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Senate chaplain stands out as the only voice of reason as lawmakers bicker into week 3 of shutdown

Amid years of debate over our nation’s most controversial healthcare reform coming to a precipice, amid the shutdown of our government and amid massive character assassination committed across both sides of the aisle, nearly all of us have developed opinions on a subject that will never see the inside of a chamber room. Despite every American being affected by these decisions in one way or another, whether it be fiscally or morally, we’re left feeling like we don’t have much say in what happens at the end of the day.

Maybe that’s just me, but I doubt I’m alone.

Sure, we elect those who vow to represent our wills to the best of our abilities, whether it be by researching the candidates individually or unapologetically clicking the “Check All” box in the voter’s booth. At the end of the day, though, it seems rare when our will is represented to the degree that’s promised — according to a recent Gallup poll, a meager eighteen percent of Americans are satisfied with the job our government is doing.

Ah, and then there was a savior. An indomitable, rhetorical pit-bull. An absolutely fearless evangelical messenger emblazoned with the Spirit and tucked neatly into a well-trimmed suit and a characteristically pastel bow tie.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black, a Seventh-day Adventist, has had both the immense burden and the immense pleasure of opening up the Senate floor each day with Christian invocation tailored to the needs of the bureaucrats. Since the shutdown, his prayer can be more accurately described as a brash critique of both liberals and conservatives, unapologetic both in nature and longevity.

Each and every day, Black has free rein to address the issues of the U.S. government in whatever manner he sees fit. The truly amazing thing about it, though, is Black’s refusal to hold one party more accountable than the other in the shutdown, as evidence by his wide-reaching criticisms across both the red and the blue.

“Remove from them that stubborn pride which imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism,” he said, according to the New York Times. “Forgive them the blunders they have committed.”

He’s been a breath of much-needed fresh air for the Senate — most notably for being a bipartisan voice in an unbelievably polarized bureaucracy. Black’s time spent serving in the Navy has also influenced his no-nonsense, marked approach to the pastoral. USA Today describes his prayers as “sharply worded” and reports Black himself as being optimistic that his words aren’t falling on deaf ears.

Maybe, just maybe, the words of a spiritual, moralistic public servant are just what our lawmakers need, especially in this critical hour. He seems to be representing our general sentiments in a way that our government simply hasn’t been able to mirror — if only for a few moments of prayer each morning.

“Lord … It’s time for our lawmakers to say enough is enough,” he begged. “Forgive us, reform us and make us whole.”

Senior staff columnist Cara Smith is a communications junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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