Following Obama’s speech last night, I found myself wondering what today’s political “analysts” might say just after Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount. At the time I was watching Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos commenting, so …
Charlie: Well, that was Jesus Christ, making what one of the most important and I’m certain most watched speeches of his career up to now. Whatd’d you make of his speech, George?
George: Very solid, Charlie. Christ looked good, he sounded good, he hit the points he needed to hit. And the speech was very well received; from the beginning to the end of his talk I’m showing about twenty minutes total worth of applause.
Charlie: Twenty minutes, you say?
George: Yes, twenty.
Charlie: That is a lot.
George: It is.
Charlie: This is a man who really knows how to work a crowd, isn’t it, George?
George: It’s one of his great strengths, Charlie. You can just tell that Christ is in his comfort zone when he’s talking before a sizable crowd—
Charlie: And this was a sizable crowd!
George: It was, Charlie. It was a throng, really.
Charlie: I, too, George, found the crowd to be what I can only call throngish.
George: It’s a speech about which there’s been considerable anticipation, Charlie. There’s been a big build-up to it; everyone’s been guessing about what it will contain. What programs would he introduce? What solutions would he propose? What would he say to the average man and woman that would resonate with them, inspire them, restore their waning trust in their leaders?
Charlie: Waning? Is that a word?
George: Yes, it’s a word, Charlie. What Christ needed to do with this speech was—
Charlie: Do you mean “waxing”?
George: I’m sorry?
Charlie: Waxing. Did you mean “waxing” instead of “waning”?
George: No, Charlie—I meant waning. People’s trust in their leaders have been waning. It means reducing. Getting less. Shrinking.
Charlie: Is that right? I could have sworn that’s what “waxing” meant.
George: “Waxing” means the opposite of that, Charlie. It means growing, getting bigger, enlarging.
Charlie: So do you think that after tonight’s speech Christs’ popularity will wax, George?
George: It’s possible. It was a powerful speech, and delivered in that inimitable Christ style. But I did note a few things contained within the speech that I think might Christ considerable trouble a little further down the road.
Charlie: You took notes?
George: Yes, Charlie, I took notes. I actually wrote down a few of the things about his speech tonight that I think could later hurt Christ.
Charlie: What sort of things did you write down?
George: Well, Charlie, a lot of Christ’s speech catered directly to the economically disadvantaged and generally oppressed.
Charlie: To the Democratic base, you mean.
George: But not just the Democrats, Charlie: to all people, Democratic and Republican, who have found themselves unmoored by these difficult times we’re in.
George: People are lost right now, and they’re looking for a leader to rally around, a galvanizing public figure who really gets them. And Christ certainly knows how to present himself as one of the people. The humble garb. The simple sandals. The long hair. The beard. Everything about the man says “unpretentious.”
George: But it’s this appeal to the commonest of the common man that in the end might undo Christ, Charlie.
Charlie: How do you mean, George?
George: Well, even though I’m not sure he meant it that way, a lot of what Christ said in his speech just might be taken by some as truly radical. Revolutionary, even.
Charlie: Really? But it all sounded so kind of soothing, you know? Comforting. I didn’t hear anything particularly revolutionary.
George: But I think that might be the very genius of the speech, Charlie. If you really listen to what Christ said, there’s a lot there that the established power elite—the heads of financial institutions, the power brokers in government, the titans of the manufacturing sector, anyone who has a vested interest in the status quo—might not only offensive, but outright challenging.
George: Just listen to what he said: the meek shall inherit the earth; those who hunger for righteousness will be filled; the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit. I think there’s a lot in those seemingly calming words that some could hear as incendiary, Charlie. Don’t forget that a significant proportion of Christ’s audience—his core constituency, if you will—are people who feel that they’re just about out of options. Many of them feel powerless to positively effect their own lives. They have no insurance, no health care; many of them have lost their homes, or are out of work. And here’s Christ, talking about how people who are now at the bottom of the social food-chain can end up at the very top of it. Some might understand his words as comforting assurances about their next life. Others might hear him calling for a radical uprising in this one.
Charlie: But you don’t think that anyone will take too much offense to Christ’s message, do you, George?
George: I don’t. I mean, I certainly hope not. But time will tell.
Follow-up to this post: The Opposition Response to Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.