Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black, like other Americans, does not much like this government impasse. He’s fed up with lawmakers’ inability to reach agreement on the vote to approve a budget, to raise the debt ceiling, and to keep our government operational.
But while many citizens feel helpless to force the hand of our elected officials, Reverend Black knows he has their ear. And this week, he’s been using his pulpit to drive home his point to the U.S. Senate during the morning invocation.
“Save us from the madness,” he implored God last week, as he opened the Senate session with an official prayer. “We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness and our pride. Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.”
In his ten years of service, Reverend Black, the first black and the first Seventh-Day Adventist to serve the Senate as its chaplain, has often let his personal opinions shape his morning invocation. But in the current political crisis he’s been particularly vocal, scolding the Senate during the prayer. “Remove from them,” he prays for the Senators, “that stubborn pride which imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism. Forgive them the blunders they have committed.”
Jeremy W. Peters, reporting in the New York Times, interviewed Reverend Black in his office. Peters recounted another day’s prayer:
“Unless you empower our lawmakers,” he prayed another day, “they can comprehend their duty but not perform it.”
The House of Representatives has its own chaplain; but Reverend Black has garnered so much attention with his heartfelt criticisms that the House invited him to give the invocation at their Friday session, as well.
Black reflected on the current crisis in a conversation with the NYTimes:
“I see us playing a very dangerous game,” Mr. Black said as he sat in his office the other day. “It’s like the showdown at the O.K. Corral. Who’s going to blink first? So I can’t help but have some of this spill over into my prayer. Because you’re hoping that something will get through and that cooler heads will prevail.”
Can I hear an “Amen”?