The Rick Warren Bru-ha-ha

December 20, 2008

I am of two minds on the Rick Warren matter.

My first reaction is to say, “Look, I don’t like the guy either. I don’t agree with his theology. I don’t agree with his politics. But it isn’t like he was chosen to be the minister-in-chief or something. He is giving an invocation. I know it has a lot of symbolic meaning, but it doesn’t have any practical consequences in and of itself. It is a gesture of the president elect to say, ‘I am not a president only to progressives or to liberals, but a president to the whole country.’ And, there are big parts of the country that can identify with Rev. Rick Warren. And, as conservative evangelical pastors go, he is one of the less offensive ones who has at least made some overtures toward changing the tone of the rhetoric. My hope is that it is a gesture that will soften the hearts of those who would tend to be more opposed to Obama and his policies. It will not solve many problems, but it is a gesture of unity, which people are always talking about. You know, one country, working out our differences and that sort of thing. By saying all of this, I don’t mean to say that I don’t understand why people don’t like it. Heck, I don’t like it either. But I see it as a strategic move that may help in the long run with things that matter more than who gives the invocation at the inauguration.” (It is of course another matter whether there should be invocations and benedictions at inaugurations anyway.)

That said, it occurred to me how often discrimination against women or the GLBTQ community can often be chalked up to theology, while few people will stand for discrimination against ethnic minorities chalked up to theology. I try to imagine if someone gave the invocation that said that they still supported slavery based on theology. Or that women should obey thier husbands based on theology (heck, Warren may agree with the second of those statements). What would it mean to have someone give the invocation as a gesture of unity and goodwill who was known to support legalized discrimination against women – that they should get paid less, that rape should be less of a crime, that they should not have inheritance rights? Hmm. No matter how symbolic or strategic that would be, I would be feeling really unhappy about this. So then I started rethinking what I said above.

And now I just don’t know. The thing is, so many of these difficult issues are totally intrackable. “We” dig in our heals. “They” dig in their heels. We write on our blogs about why we are right. We affirm each other at our churches about why we are right. We are smug. We know whose side God is on. And where does this get us? What is the way forward toward better understanding each other, finding common ground to work on together, even, dare I say it, finding areas where compromise makes sense. I am not talking about any particular issue, but rather all of these very intense social and political issues that are so close to our hearts – all of our hearts – and where it seems so difficult to move forward.

I’m guessing having Rick Warren give the invocation at the inauguration isn’t the answer. But I wish we could come up with a better one that just insisting on how right and just we are and getting offended and indignant. Not that I am somehow immune to this. I do it to. But there must be a better way…

A Festival of Non-Information

October 6, 2008

This is how Shark-Fu at Feministing described the vice-presidential debates and it was one of the best characterizations that I have heard of it. That anyone takes these seriously as somehow saying something about the candidates or their policies, is, in and of itself, annoying and depressing. Unless you consider the strategic and selective repetition of various sound bites and partial truths to be “saying something.” I know, I know. Get more excited about democracy, Elizabeth! But it is hard. And I am tired. I think we as a country are tired.

And I feel really very badly for people whose retirement accounts are plummeting right now. Everyone else’s will have time to recover, but not those who are retiring soon. Not to mention those who have lost houses. I wish there was more I could do in the short term other than feel bad for those folks and wish it would be different.

I am sure there are many more pressing things that should be said (like the Rev. Bill Sinkford meeting with the oppressive and ridiculous President of Iran, Ahmadinejad and then making this public as if it was a super-good thing). But sometimes I feel like I have run out of things to say. I know, I know. Speak truth to power. And I am not giving up. But just taking a break for a while.

On a happy note, some of our dear friends welcomed a new baby to the world this week – Ms. Josephine Katherine. So welcome Josephine!!!! We are so happy you arrived safe and sound, and that you are part of our world. We can’t wait to meet you!

On that happy note, off to class.

Peace, E