I was reading a piece in the Wall Street Journal on “my day off,” (an interesting concept for ministers, who tend to be torn between setting work/non-work boundaries and a sense of being a doctor always “on call”) critical of Democrat Barack Obama. The criticism was that his policy content was weak or unworkable while his personal appeal was “exhilarating” and “inspiring.” The article was also critical of a Seattle Times letter-to-the-editor-writer who said he had been waiting 46 years to be inspired (John Kennedy).
I won’t comment on Obama’s policy content—or any candidate’s—that’s for you to research and discern. But as a spiritual leader, I want to speak to what I think is an obtuseness on the Journal’s part regarding inspiration: people long to be inspired. Even if the journal is right about Obama’s policy content, they clearly don’t get it. For human beings, inspiration actually tends to trump content. We are idealistic and relationship-oriented. We want to believe in something or someone that can transcend bitterness, division, status quo, and banality. Inspiration really matters. This tends to emerge especially in young people, who are less jaded. Ask most young voters about Obama, Hillary, or McCain in terms of policy and I’ll bet they’ll struggle a bit to really explain the differences. But in that visceral, human world of connection and inspiration, they will be able to tell you how they feel about the candidates—and those feelings matter.
We live in a cynical world, Cameron Crowe once wrote. Seattle needs inspiration, and I hope the Christians can see they are holding all the God-given cards in that game.