Barack Obama, without a church since he abandoned the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's congregation of addled bigots, racists and conspiracy nuts, ought to consider starting his own. Having never been inside a church, many of his disciples regard him as the messiah.
He's ready to rock. "A light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany," he told a raucous rally of the rapt in Lebanon, N.H., back in January. "You will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama."
Another rally the other night outside Washington reflected the fervor of a 19th-century brush-arbor revival. A shopkeeper in Virginia was typical: He closed his store early, inspired by the senator's "values and integrity," to get there early because he's been busy "intending" victory for the senator. He has been "intending" since Iowa, explaining to the Weekly Standard that "intending" is the spiritual practice of "intending" something to happen. "But we don't pray or do any weird Kool-Aid drinking stuff like that."
Some of the Obama faithful think it's necessary to amend the Bible. "I cried all night," Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois told Politico, the Capitol Hill newspaper. "I'm going to be crying for the next four years. What Barack Obama has accomplished is the single most extraordinary event that has occurred in the 232 years of the nation's history ... The event is so extraordinary that ... another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance."
Relics of the new religion are highly venerated (though some Obamanuts are looking to venerate on the cheap). When he left a half-eaten waffle and a scrap of pork sausage (no Muslim here) on his plate at a diner in Pennsylvania, a waitress carefully wrapped the plate - "with his DNA on the silverware" - and put it up for auction on eBay with instructions to start the bidding at $10,000. It actually sold for 99 cents, and the winning bidder had to pay $6 postage (but got the DNA at no extra charge).
The German weekly Der Spiegel, Rolling Stone and the New Republic have featured Obama as messiah on their covers, and celebrities are racing each other to terminate skeptics with extreme piety. Eve Konstantine, a certified Georgetown guru, calls him "the collective representation of our purest hopes." Chris Matthews, the famous cable-TV shouter, isn't the only celebrity who feels something (chiggers? bedbugs?) crawling up his leg at the mere thought of Barack Obama. "This is bigger than Kennedy," Chris says. "This is the New Testament."
And not just Chris. "Does it not feel as if some special hand is guiding Obama on his journey?" asks Daily Kos, the George Soros organ that affects to give the pagan left its marching orders. A columnist in the Chicago Sun-Times reveals that the senator is "not just an ordinary human being but indeed an Advanced Soul." Deepak Chopra calls the Obama inanity "a quantum leap in American consciousness." Gary Hart, whose little cabin cruiser SS Monkey Business splashed the path across the sea that Bill Clinton later fished with such spectacular results, is clearly envious. "[Obama] is not operating on the same plane as ordinary politicians. [He is] the agent of transformation in an age of revolution."
Oprah Winfrey feels a tingle headed for the thigh hairs, too. "We're here to evolve to a higher plane," she says. "He is an evolved leader ... he has an ear for eloquence and a Tongue dipped in the Unvarnished Truth." Somebody named Mark Morford puts it together in capital letters: Barack Obama is "an Attuned Being with Powerful Luminosity and High-Vibration Integrity who will actually help usher in a New Way of Being." Halle Berry, no doubt inspired by the example of the woman who washed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair, vowed to "collect paper cups off the ground to make [Obama's] pathway clear."
Anyone who inspires such zeal among the unchurched, the irreligious and the irreverent is a phenomenon we haven't seen since Aimee Semple McPherson blazed a sawdust trail across the American firmament (or at least across a big revival tent) eight decades ago. If the senator has not quite evolved to messiah, he's got a profitable future in faith-healing. Who needs universal health care? He's wasting his time in politics.