A few immedate thoughts on the inauguration:
President Obama's speech: I didn't think this was his most memorable, but no one delivers a speech like Obama. The highlight for me came when he explicitly referred to scripture, and said "The time has come to set aside childish things." This was the first of two points in the speech where Obama shifted into the cadences of Martin Luther King. He then shifted out, as if to remind us and himself whose shoulders he stands on, but also to suggest he's another person and this is another time.
Rick Warren's prayer: I was especially interested to see whether Warren would speak as "we," as if all Americans share his evangelical views, or as "I," especially given the criticisms he's received of late. I thought he handled this issue deftly and honestly. Most of the prayer was addressed to the sovereign God, but he introduced the conclusion by saying "I ask in the name of the one who changed my life"-- not presuming to speak for everyone, but also acknowleding where his hope comes from.
Elizabeth Alexander's poem: For a literary poet to write a public poem is an almost impossible task. I didn't think the poem was a great poem, but I thought it had some lovely passages, and I thought the coordinating motif of language as the place where we encounter one another was a nice choice. There were a few clunker lines, but I liked the early line saying something to the effect that we have
"each one of our ancestors on our tongue."
John Lowery's benediction: Like Bill, I thought Lowery stole the show (and his humorous rhyming couplets were a pleasing jolt from the seriousness of Alexander's poem). He verged on irreverence and political incorrectness (if "yellow will just be mellow ...etc"), but added a nice note of warmth and humor-- just the thing a ceremony like this needs.