The (g)odless Inaugural Prayer
In the RNS interview, Evers-Williams sheds some light on why she may have been so obtuse in her word choices about the deity (or lack thereof):
I have never been shy in mentioning my relationship with what I call God, a Spirit, and there certainly have been times over the years that I have called on him — or her, if you wish — in public. I deeply believe that there is a Supreme Being that sees us through.
That’s very similar, in fact, to Obama’s spiritual line of thinking, as he explained in a 2004 interview with Cathleen Falsani:
I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there’s an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.
Ah, the “collective” that Obama referred to in his inaugural address: "Preserving our individual freedom requires collective action."
The vague spirituality (and the nod to collectivism) is reminiscent of the '60s counterculture and their rejection of organized religion. It brings to mind Norman Greenbaum’s hippie folk anthem "Spirit in the Sky." Greenbaum, a practicing Jew at the time he wrote the song, said cowboy movies inspired him to write it, explaining that: “even though I'm a bad guy, I want to redeem myself and go to heaven. I just chose the spirit in the sky. The part about Jesus was just a natural part when I put it all together.” He has also said, “It wasn’t like a Christian song of praise it was just a simple song. I had to use Christianity because I had to use something. But more important it wasn’t the Jesus part, it was the spirit in the sky.”
Never been a sinner I never sinned
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that when I die
He's gonna set me up with
The spirit in the sky
Oh set me up with the spirit in the sky
That's where I'm gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
I'm gonna go to the place that's the best
Go to the place that's the best