Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rick Warren, Barack Obama, Invocation

If you're coming in new due to the title, let me be clear about something, I am a friend to the GLBT community and find bans to gay marriage a violation of equal rights and responsibilities on an immaterial basis. I also do not belong to any organized religion.

Obama's choice of Rick Warren has disappointed, irritated, or outraged some on the left and I can understand the symbolism as an irritant. Rick Warren backed Prop 8 in California and Barack Obama opposed it. Now we have an Invocation given by Warren and a Benediction given by Joseph Lowery, an opponent of bans, at the Inauguration of a President who says that he believes his religion opposes gay marriage and he opposes bans. OK, hmmm.

I do not quote preachers or imams or anybody as the word of god, but some of them have my respect for their social views and Chuck Currie is one of those.
I am deeply troubled that President-elect Obama has invited Rick Warren to offer the invocation at the inauguration. Warren stands opposed to the progressive agenda and to many of the core values that Barack Obama campaigned on. The symbolism of offering such as prodigious place in history to a figure such as Warren is upsetting.
Warren is a good spokesman for the Religious Right but does not represent mainstream Christianity.

I don't know what comprises "mainstream Christianity" and I actually don't care. Once you drag god into something with an actual official governmental purpose - swearing into office is official - all kinds of problems are going to arise. I understand the GLBT's irritation, and I think I understand Obama's stance of inclusiveness. It is all hooey. If we are to take theologians seriously evidently god doesn't know what he thinks about gay marriage. Really, I don't care and the why I don't care is not hostility to religion or god, it is a matter of involving it in matters of public policy. I don't care that Warren is there and I don't care that Lowery is there because I don't think either of their views of god matters in the least to secular decisions. I know they're there because having god involved is somehow important to a whole lot of Americans. You will note that this is all about the Christian god. Does that raise further issues? Sure it does...and so?

Sometimes I reference Rev Chuck Currie, not because of his god view but because he is eloquent and well spoken on issues. I admit to not making much of his opinion of god's views, it is valuable to him and informs him but is still - in my opinion - an opinion. I'd prefer that the religious folks didn't consecrate or bless or whatever the swearing in of the President. I'm not offended, I just think it asks for a lot of problems that aren't necessary. This is one of them.

If you're going to let loose of the part I'm bringing up, I don't think you have any ground to stand on with respect to what people take out of their bible as the word of god in an Inauguration. Yes I think Warren is wrong on gay marriage, but once you accept the whole thing as a political circus you have to accept the politics of it. Trying to present a political image as inclusive means you do it and there will be fallout for doing it and if you voted for the guy with that as a part of your reasoning, then this is what you get.

If you accept the idea that churches should be able to advocate for the poor because the words are in their book, then you've accepted a lot of things with that. I don't engage in Bible bashing because I think it is silly and offensive with no point, but that book along with other Books contain a lot of words that people would rather ignore. That's OK, to ignore stuff, but to start throwing around outrage over what words do or don't get ignored isn't real honest.

I wouldn't even address this if I didn't have good friends in the GLBT that would wonder about silence. I understand symbolism, but once you accept the inherent hypocrisy involved in Invocations and Benedictions you get all the rest. I'm going to let the Inauguration go forward without anger over Warren's inclusion, in particular.


Jill said...

I'm glad you wrote this post, Chuck. I'm very angry however with the way in which the media is almost completely burying the sexism of Warren's positions. I think Obama is really playing with fire in this calculation of just how deeply he will hurt his base and supporters.

Chuck Butcher said...

thanks for stopping by. It's religion, all the rest of it is to be expected in one form or another. I don't care whose book it is that is used, there is plenty to justify most crap and that's why you don't do it in politics. It becomes the unassailable word versus public good and carries a "moral" weight that has no place in a discussion of an ordered society.

Why we in America insist on playing with this fire is beyond me. We know what the outcome will be and yet it is somehow politically important to be religious and to bring it into politics.

I didn't address the sexism inherent in Warren's world view and I didn't address a lot of other things, not because they're immaterial, but space and reader attention do demand a certain amount of narrowing of focus and Prop 8 is stirring the fire - right now.

BTW, Jill is a friend to this blog and one heck of a lot more influential.