Phyllis Tickle tried to pay close attention to the prayers at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, which isn't surprising since she has written a whole shelf of books on rites of public and private prayer.
The problem was that she didn't hear much in the way of traditional prayer, in terms of clergy offering words of praise and petition to God. Instead, the prayers sounded like lectures or mini-sermons aimed at the masses on the National Mall.
"Did I think the official prayers were disasters? No," said Tickle, author of, among many relevant works, "Prayer Is a Place: America's Religious Landscape Observed."
"I just thought that they lacked the majesty of a psalm before the throne of God, substituting instead ... the mundane and plebian commentary of a human being to other human beings about an established lists of errors and of desirable aims, with a little advice to God thrown in. ... I'm not sure why preachers think they have to do that."
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