Washington D.C. – Sometimes (during a government shutdown, for instance) it seems like our elected officials are in a bubble, totally disconnected from the concerns of the voters who put them in office. But the people have at least one voice on Capitol Hill: Barry C. Black, the Senate chaplain.
Black, who is currently working for free we might add, openly voices his disapproval for the partisan gridlock plaguing Washington and keeping the fed in shutdown mode every morning during prayer.
“We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness and our pride,” he said one morning last week. “Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.”
Indeed, every day since the shutdown, Black, the Senate chaplain for more than 10 years, turns what is normally a religious blessing into a harsh scolding session.
“Remove from them that stubborn pride which imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism,” he said during one message. “Forgive them the blunders they have committed.”
Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, regarded as one of the most stubborn and vitriolic voices on the Hill, seemed to really respond to the messages this week.
“Following the suggestion in the prayer of Admiral Black,” said Reid, described by the NY Times as “genuinely contrite” after the service, “I think we’ve all here in the Senate kind of lost the aura of Robert Byrd,” a reference to the Senate legend who always strove for compromise.
Apart from official Senate business, 65-year-old Black is still very opinionated about the political climate in Washington right now. Though he describes himself as “liberal on some and conservative on others,” he has long left his politics intentionally vague, describing his views as developed from a “biblical perspective.”
Leaving the “blame game” aside, Black seemed to feel that all of our politicians are responsible for the disservice the shutdown is causing us.
“I see us playing a very dangerous game,” he said after one ceremony. “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.”
[Image: Wikimedia Commons]