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President Obama Reads Psalm 46 at 9/11 Ceremony

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#21 paganyid



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Posted 18 September 2011 - 08:08 PM

The Bible is not only a religious book, it also contains some of the finest examples of literature achieved by humans, and the tehillim are certainly examples of that. Should we ignore every single piece of human achievement with religious origins?

I don't think the psalms are beautiful unless you take them at face value. I really don't see it.
Certainly he doesn't take the psalm at face value. I think many people see it as a political move co-opting tools that are sacred to some, but not to him.

#22 daniel.nazar



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Posted 06 November 2011 - 02:14 PM

I see an actor running a public relations campaign, reading an excerpt from a book selected to appeal to the majority of the listening audience. Those listening are not likely to be apathetic souls in the strictest sense, so it follows that these people also have some measure of faith and hence are religious to some extent. Then it only becomes logical to read from the Bible in this case.

Furthermore, he read this passage instead of others for its symbolic value, clearly. However symbols are up to interpretation so make what you will of it.

EDIT: I'm sorry, but I can't resist. Too tantalizing. I looove symbolism. Bear in mind I am not religious. Here's my interpretation, but it's just my opinion of course. I will transcribe the video in full first:

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the Earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea! Though its waters roar and be troubled! Though the mountains shake with its swelling! There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God -- the holy place of the Tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her. She shall not be moved. God shall help her - just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved: He uttered his voice - the Earth melted. The Lord of Hosts is with us! The God of Jacob is our refuge! Come behold the works of the Lord, who has made desolations in the Earth! He makes wars cease to the ends of the Earth! He breaks the bough and cuts the spear in two! He burns the chariot in fire! Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the Earth. The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."

Powerful imagery! I feel my heart warm just to read it! But in the dynamic and all-too-powerful vision this inspires, I must slowly step away and dismiss myself from my vibrant and overactive fantasy.

Mountains typically symbolize structure, something fixed/stable, yet so does the shoreline (which is flat), so the height and immensity of mountains is likewise suggestive of majesty and power. The sea (the waters) symbolizes chaos, destruction, uncertainty, ebb and flow, change. The river is a line of people, the streams their descendants. Making glad the city of God means to make the Earth a better place, once the entire Earth becomes this city (maybe that's taking it a bit too far here, but I think it still works). That God is in the midst of her suggests that all the people of this city all have solidarity in their faith. The break of dawn suggests a previous time of the darkest night, and God's help takes the form of anything that furthers the already-stated objective in the previous two sentences. The nations are raging now. The God of Jacob part is obvious, as opposed to Esau. Desolations in the Earth -- well there's plenty of that all around the world right now too. No wonder he's reading this passage, since it follows so pleasantly: Once this city of God is established, there won't be any need for war anymore (presumably because of solidarity). Since this is so, it describes a blissful utopic future in which the implements of war are broken down since they are no longer needed. Be still because this force in the world is going to succeed. The rest is pep talk - we're gonna win!

Just my theory though y'know though so I could be wrong

#23 Thadius



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Posted 06 November 2011 - 04:05 PM


It was not about giving a religious message. It was about comfort, and for 90% of this nation, comfort comes from some god. Even the passage Bush read had an element of comfort from God. (Actually, as Bush was reading the passage I was wondering about the way times change, in that now this country has one less thing in common which makes it somewhat harder to write consolation letters.)

Personally I agree with you on that he was trying to bring comfort and consolation to the American people. Many Americans are Christian, which is why you see a Christian church on the corner of every street in every city and town in the U.S. I sometimes wish there was a shul in the small town I live in, so I didn't have to drive almost 2 hours to reach the nearest shul. Christians take comfort in the bible just as we do.

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