Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Swearing on a Stack of Bibles

The Wall Street Journal has a very nice interactive article about the Bibles used by the various presidents when they have been sworn in, including information about which verses the Presidents chose to have the Bible opened to, if any. It's an interesting trivia tidbit, and gives surprising insights into each man. Some were not especially religious, not using a Bible or prayer book, or, if they did, having it closed. Others appear to have known their Bibles well. Some chose to have more than one Bible, which seemed a little odd to me, but there was usually some symbolism to be observed in that choice. Barak Obama has asked to use the Bible President Lincoln used, which is being brought over from the Smithsonian for him.

Check it out:
'I Do Solemnly Swear..."

So let's play pretend, as my kids used to say. If you were elected president, what document would you choose to use for swearing in? If you would use a holy book, what verse, if any, would you choose to lay your hand on?

I think that if I were a person who did not practice a religion, I might choose to lay my hand on a copy of the U.S. Constitution. I think that would be more meaningful to me than using nothing at all, though there are several presidents who did not swear on anything.

Since I am a practicing Christian, I would use a Bible. I think I would use the nice Revised Standard Version Bible my husband got for me the first year that we were married, special because it was a gift from him, even though I have since changed to using a more recent translation. I think I would have it open to Micah 6:8: "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

What would you do at your pretend inauguration?


Rose said...

I would probably use the Bible given to me by my godparents for my confirmation, a King James Version. But I certainly would have to think about the verse for awhile. The article about the presidents was very interesting;I liked Nixon's choice of verses actually.

I am so pleased that Obama has chosen the Lincoln Bible for his inauguration. Of course, it could be because Lincoln was also from Illinois, but I think he is thinking of all the symbolism behind this choice. Lincoln was faced with healing a divided nation; Obama has a very difficult task ahead of him as well.

Joyce said...

It's kind of interesting that Nixon, raised as a Quaker and inheriting the Viet Nam War, chose a passage about peace. I liked Ford's, too, which was kind of a plea for guidance, since he was thrust into the presidency by such strange events.

I'm reading Team of Rivals, about Lincoln, and I know Obama has read it also. I'm becoming a bit of a Lincoln idolizer through reading that book. I'll bet that happened to Obama, too.

grant said...

Please see my post about this topic

Joyce said...

Hey, great post, Grant! Glad this one gave you the inspiration!

ruchi aka arduous said...

Being sworn in on the US Constitution is a really nice idea. I think I'd get sworn in on the Bill of Rights. That's my favorite American document.

It's interesting foreshadowing the verse that Hoover used "Where there is no vision, the people perish." I don't know the context of the verse, but it is true that Hoover didn't have any vision after the stock market crash of 1929, and as a result the people did perish.

Joyce said...

Ruchi, I noticed that one too.

I should say, Hoover is a relative of mine, and it's always hard to hear people bash on him, because he was a wonderful person, of many accomplishments, and by no means hard-hearted toward the poor. He did stick to an economic philosophy that he thought would work, and it didn't. That was a big mistake.

I just always feel compelled to stand up for him, at least on the issue of character :)