I had my first brush with Barack Obama four years ago, during my first months of seminary. He was beginning a book tour in his neighborhood bookstore, 57th Street Books. At the time, he was, if not quite unknown, not too far removed from “local author” status, either. As I stood in line, I met others who lived in the neighborhood and were braving a rainy morning to meet the former law professor. Maybe inevitably, given our reasons for being there, we talked about our hopes and dreams for our neighborhood, and for our country.
The world changes so quickly.
On Saturday, the "skinny kid with a funny name" returned to Hyde Park, this time not for a book signing as a local author but as a President headlining a get-out-the-vote rally of thirty-five thousand people. My wife and I stood in line for an hour or so before joining the throngs on the Midway. Undergrads studying Latin textbooks stood behind us, while several older women gathered in front of us, campaign buttons pinned proudly to their overcoats. A family I knew from the U of C Laboratory Schools walked by, and we waved to each other.
A few days later, I awoke before dawn and walked across the street to vote as a resident of Chicago’s 4th Ward for the third and probably last time. I don’t know where I’ll be for the next election, but I’m sure I’ll miss the neighbors.
+ + +
(Election week bonus link! LSTC alum Paul Bailie ('08) posted an article this month in the Journal of Lutheran Ethics about political issues and preaching. Click here to read what he had to say.)