The One?

This photo has been circulating around the Internet for a long time and it always struck me as poignant, disturbing, breathtaking, eerie, and important on multiple levels. I haven’t been able to determine the original source, but I always meant to post it.


3 responses to “The One?

  1. Two possibilities:

    1. These people are laying hands on him while they pray FOR him to be blessed and strengthened by God.
    2. They are laying hands on him because they think HE has some kind of spiritual power or aura.

    Until I hear otherwise, I’m guessing it’s #1. Praying for people in this fashion is common practice in many churches and religious traditions.

    While I am not an Obama fan, and I am not voting for him, I don’t see what would necessarily be “disturbing” about people praying for him.

  2. I believe this is a group of ministers praying with/for Barack Obama. It might have been in Philadelphia in March at the time Obama gave the speech on race following the Wright video controversy. I’m not 100% on that though.

    If that’s the case, does it still disturb you? Why?

  3. divisionstreet

    This photo has appeared in many contexts as it has bounced around the Web, and I think it’s been viral because it’s so powerful on so many levels, beyond whatever its original context of time and place. It says so many things – or could say so many things. When I look at it, I see poignant, if that’s the word, first in that I see a man whom so many have invested their hopes, and particularly a man who represents so much about the progress of civil rights and African Americans – most of the others in the photo are older and they are blessing “the one” who has emerged as the result of their work. I also see “disturbing” because the photo seen another way, and as presented in some contexts, feeds into the messianic quality of the Obama campaign and the parallel feelings of many of his followers. It is “eerie” because, while agnostic, it’s hard not get caught up in a certain metaphysical vibe looking at a photo like this, and finally “important” because it has an aesthetic quality of historicity that somehow captures so many levels of thinking about Obama’s campaign and who he is in one captured moment.

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