President Obama gave a forceful, brave inaugural address [“We must act,” front page, Jan. 22] that outlined his vision for moving the United States forward, covering subjects ranging from stricter gun-safety laws to marriage equality and economic equality. One hopes that the GOP will learn to work cooperatively for the good of the country and yield to progress, which is what we voted for.

However, judging from the absence at the inaugural ceremony of former president George W. Bush, 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney and many other GOP leaders and lawmakers, it is clear that bitter partisanship continues to be valued more than patriotism and striving for “a more perfect union.”

The inauguration celebrated the winners — those conscious, civic-minded leaders and citizens who desire to help this country grow stronger and wiser. Sadly, it also exposed the losers and their true colors, which are not even close to red, white and blue.

Stephanie LaMonaca, Sacramento

The purpose of an invocation or benediction is to call upon God to bless the proceedings at hand. However one might interpret the meaning of a blessing, these occasions are not meant to be sermons. A person called to invoke God’s blessing, then, ought to keep opinions out of it.

Yet what we heard at President Obama’s inauguration were sermons. The concluding benediction at the inaugural luncheon, given by a Greek Orthodox priest, who referred to his humility at this “greatest honor of my life,” betrayed his own words by invoking “the father, the son and the holy spirit” at the end of his “message.”

A public invocation or benediction ought to use universal language for the deity so as not to exclude anyone present. May I suggest that invoking “the Eternal” would probably be maximally inclusive and offend no one.

Jonathan H. Gerard, Easton, Pa.

The writer is rabbi emeritus at Temple Covenant of Peace.

In his Jan. 21 op-ed column [“The liberation of a second term”], E.J. Dionne Jr. said that President Obama “wanted to be the agent of a United States of America in which the word ‘united’ would become an accurate description of our polity.” The problem is that, for all of his rhetoric about civil discourse and compromise, this president has evidenced little of either. He has hurled strong and sarcastic invectives at his opposition, and he has never materially compromised any substantive element of his liberal agenda (though perhaps he has simply deferred action on some parts of it).

I have worked with people like this. They are all for unity, commonality and togetherness, as long as it’s on their terms.

Mr. Obama is perhaps the most liberal man to have held the presidency, and he is clearly sold on his liberal cause, imagining now that somehow an election victory of a few percentage points constitutes a mandate.

I don’t deny him his ideology. Were I in his place, I’m sure I, too, would appear to be very much an ideologue. I respect people who will stick to their convictions, even if I disagree with them on just about everything. But let us abandon this fanciful notion that President Obama is all about bringing the nation together. His aggressive efforts to bring to full fruition the liberal goals of the past century serve only to deepen the division in our nation.

John Supp, Mechanicsville