Professor Fouad Ajami writes in today's Wall Street Journal ($) of the crowds that have been greeting Barak Obama in his presidential campaign; his imagery is reminiscent of messianic stories told in the gospels and epistles:
... Hitherto, crowds have not been a prominent feature of American politics. We associate them with the temper of Third World societies. We think of places like Argentina and Egypt and Iran, of multitudes brought together by their zeal for a Peron or a Nasser or a Khomeini. In these kinds of societies, the crowd comes forth to affirm its faith in a redeemer: a man who would set the world right. ... [¶¶]
My boyhood, and the Arab political culture I have been chronicling for well over three decades, are anchored in the Arab world. And the tragedy of Arab political culture has been the unending expectation of the crowd -- the street, we call it -- in the redeemer who will put an end to the decline, who will restore faded splendor and greatness. When I came into my own, in the late 1950s and '60s, those hopes were invested in the Egyptian Gamal Abdul Nasser. He faltered, and broke the hearts of generations of Arabs. But the faith in the Awaited One lives on, and it would forever circle the Arab world looking for the next redeemer.
I don't share Ajami's view of American political crowds; the lenses of his life experience likely are creating too much distortion on this subject, I suspect.
But his take on the Middle Eastern 'street' makes for an interesting perspective on the New Testament tales of the crowds who wanted to make Jesus king.