Hinge Point

Posted in: Current Events,Spirituality by bill-o on January 24, 2009

The use of the term “hinge point of history” by Pastor Rick Warren during his Inauguration Prayer for President Barack Obama on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, has received some interesting discussion.

For example, please see:


Evidently, an exact definition of the term “hinge point” is not known. The phrase seems to bring us to images of how a door swings on its hinges, thus allowing a door to close or to open.

Regardless of the “official” definition, I think, though, that Pastor Warren’s intent was to say that history, with the inauguration of the Mr. Obama, is now making a clear turn from one era to another.

Whether Mr. Obama’s ascent to the highest office in the United States represents a new era (the Age of Obama, perhaps), I’ll leave it for others to decide. As is usually the case with such things, time will tell. As a history professor once told me, it really takes at least 25 years of time to pass before past events can be put in the proper historical perspective. It’s at that point that politics begin to pass into history.

What I can say here is that, for the spiritual seeker, the true quest in life is to find the door, the “hinge point”, between time and eternity. As the book of Ecclesiastes says, we are each born with “eternity in our hearts”. Yet, at the same time, we have been placed in a world where the eternal is somehow restricted. The desire to press through from this present world to the mysteries of the everlasting can never be completely pushed away. For this is the journey for which are spirits yearn for, cry out for. It is the spiritual call which gnaws at us and drives us forward, yet it is also the search from which we are sometimes so easily distracted.

As you consider the term “hinge point”, please consider not just politics or doors, but the spiritual journey. For it is this eternal hinge point that matters most.


  1. As a snooty, opinionated English teacher, the first thing I want to know is how “hinge point” differs from “hinge,” since the latter seems sufficient as a metaphor. Every hinge is a point, after all, or at least it is the pointedness of the hinge that makes us use it in a metaphor.

    My bigger issue is that the picture of a hinge doesn’t work for me in the context of “a hinge point in history,” since Mr. Warren doesn’t seem to have thought through whether the past is the door and the future is the wall, or vice versa. But if he means a hinge linking two plains going at right angles, then I see it as new way of saying “a turn in the road.”

    Maybe “a hinge in history” would have been better, or at least would have helped people think clearly enough to see that a hinge maybe isn’t the right metaphor no matter how it’s phrased. (“A hinge in history,” though, does seem to hit those h’s better!)

    So if “hinge point” is a future catchphrase, I think it won’t serve us well, no matter what it comes to mean!

    Baking off the English teacher thing for a moment: it interests me how most people seem to disassociate what is said with how it is said, but, for me, they are closely tied. The words and the ideas should be hungry enough to feed off of each other. (That may not be the best way to put it.) (Ironically.)

    Comment by Peter — January 24, 2009 @ 8:51 pm

  2. An interesting comment from Peter. But then, the hinge is usually connected to a door at some “point.”

    Comment by beryl singleton bissell — January 28, 2009 @ 3:04 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.