Thursday, December 18, 2008

Other thoughts on the Warren Invocation

Rick Warren and Dr. Joseph Lowry: A balancing act.

Okay, so last night I was in a grim, grim mood.
This was in part due the raft of crappy news yesterday which was topped off by the announcement of the Evangelical Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation.

At first I was outraged. Of all the people in the world WHY someone so divisive?! It has deflated my optimism so much that I can't begin to describe.

This morning, however, I have a more mature view.
First, using the word 'optimism' to describe my joy over Obama's election is misleading. When I said 'optimism' I was feeling an expectation.
Simply put, expectation for bold change.

I was a fool. Change is never simple, and rarely successful when too bold. I set myself up.

Buddhist wisdom teaches us that 'expectation' leads most directly to suffering and disappointment.

It is a good thing now that this bubble has been shattered.
This is not to say that I have lost all my optimism, I haven't, but is now tempered with a healthy dose of practicality. And for the record I still expect BOLD change, even if it isn't realistic.

I've read some wonderfully thoughtful comments on this issue already this morning.

CNN has posted a piece that reductively focuses on the obvious anger of the left.

The official response
: "Linda Douglass, a spokeswoman for Obama, defended the choice of Warren, saying, "This is going to be the most inclusive, open, accessible inauguration in American history.The president-elect certainly disagrees with him on [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] issues," Douglass said. "But it has always been his goal to find common ground with people with whom you may disagree on some issues."

One reader commented:
"Instead of making the story about how Obama is changing history by reaching out to opponents and people he disagrees with, the story is about how gay rights advocates are outraged at an Evangelical Pastor. Obama is doing incredible things in his transition and inaguration. He is reaching out to social conservatives to show that he is their President as well. Social conservatives that left the Republican party, which had abandoned them, to vote for the inspiration of hope can now see that their pick for President is willing to listen to them. Honestly, who is surprised that gay rights advocates don't like an Evangelical Pastor. The story pegs Rick Warren as an extremist, but in fact there are literally millions and millions of Americans that agree with his beliefs."

I thought this made sense.

Andrew Sullivan has several threads on the issue.
Sullivan notes
Marc Ambinder's observation that "Obama's message is: Rick Warren is a part of Obama's America, too."

and adds, "He sure is. And that's something one understands. Which is why it seems important to me that Obama at some point offer gay couples and gay servicemembers something a little better than symbolism in the next four years. Like: a federal civil unions bill and the end to the military ban."

and here is the magic:

Thom Hartman
on the Huffington posts writes:
"Dr. Joseph Lowry, who is providing the other bookend to the inauguration with the benediction, is the other side of the balance Obama is bringing to this inauguration. Dr. Lowry has said, for example, "The same folks who are against progress for black folks are the folks who are against progress for women and gays and farmers and young people and peace activists. We have to understand it's one struggle. This is ONE AMERICA, and the sooner we learn that the more effective our world will be." And the more effective we will be at changing the hearts and minds of people like Rich Warren and his followers. This is a tremendous first step, and I congratulation Barack Obama on his wisdom, walking metaphorically in Greg Mortenson's shoes to eventually bring the enemies of America's true values of love and tolerance over to our side."

These comments and the inclusion of Dr. Lowry helped me to see a bit of their reasoning. I still wish the choice for invocation was a less devisive figure.
Obama has made his point about respectful disagreement. And I most certainly disagree.

Now we shall see what Mr. Warren has to say in January. One would hope it is in the spirit of our our shared humanity rather then some waxing jargon evoking the Lord and his "My Way or The Highway" interpetation of xtianity.

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