Thursday, 24 July 2008

Jesse Stickler and Barack Obama

Years ago, when I worked for the Westminster Bank in England, I met a man whose name was Jesse Stickler. Jesse was a bank inspector, which meant that he was one of that dreaded cadre of Westminster Bank employees who would descend, without notice on a branch bank to make sure that we were not cooking the books.

Jesse lived up to his name. He was a stickler.

I met him when I was a member of the Westminster Bank Christian Fellowship. The Bristol (U.K.) chapter would have occasional meetings at his home in Bitton, near Bristol.

Jesse was a dour man, a Methodist of the old school. I cannot forget the time he said “I’ve never thought that hope was a very valuable commodity”. That comment seemed to sum up his name and his character.

And now, Senator Barack Obama is campaigning for the Presidency on his slogan “the audacity of hope”. That slogan rocks for many of us.

We see it in the light of Senator John McSame, who has nothing to offer save the failed and disastrous policies of the Bush/Cheney Junta.

“The audacity of hope”. Who could fail to be moved at the fact that Senator Obama attracted a crowd of 200,000 in Berlin today?

It reminded us of those hallowed days when the United States was a beacon of hope for all of Europe. Days which Reagan/Bush/ Cheney have squandered.

“The audacity of hope”. These are words which are rooted in the Christian gospel, (‘though I sometimes wonder if Christian hope is anything more than a con-job).

“The audacity of hope”. I so much want to believe in Barack Obama’s message. But I wonder.

We were all so hopeful when William Jefferson Clinton was elected President. He did many good things, but failed the trouser zipper test.

We were all so hopeful when Tony Blair became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after 11 years of miserable Tory rule. But we ended up despising him.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair made the classical mistake of all leaders. They believed their own propaganda.

It’s more than likely that Senator Obama will make the same mistake. But I will still vote for him. Hope is to be preferred over McSame.

And tomorrow I will tell you about Jeremy, who has no hope, and with good reason.

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