A Meditation About Knees

Watching the president wave "the Bible like a mace or a product on the Home Shopping Network" as he stood in front of St. John's Episcopal Church on Monday, June 1, after law enforcement officers used tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets to clear away peaceful protestors, made Randall Balmer, John Phillips Professor in Religion at Dartmouth, imagine if, instead, "the president had seized the moment to speak calmly and contritely about the persistence of racism in American society? What if he had addressed the underlying, systemic causes of poverty and inequality that have created a permanent underclass in the United States? What if he had used the occasion, standing in front of a church, to repent of his own role in stoking racial and ethnic tensions? What if the president had dropped to his knees in prayer for healing and reconciliation?" "That silent gesture," Professor Balmer suggests in his op-ed in Sunday's Valley News, "would have been the most eloquent statement he could have made in this time of suffering."