Thursday, December 18, 2008

Political Theater At Its Crassest

Obama has asked Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his (His?) inauguration in January, and if I'm reading the reports correctly, Rick Warren has agreed to this. Without any other information but what I already know, this lowers my opinion of both men.

Rick Warren, as most of you probably know, is ostensibly an evangelical pastor of a very large megachurch in Southern California, and author of The Purpose Driven Life, a well-reputed and oft-studied (at least at evangelical churches) book based on Christian principles. Most recently, he was the host of the Saddleback Debate Forum, at which John McCain and Barack Obama were both asked the same set of questions, separate from each other, and put on the spot for direct answers.

Anywho, Rick Warren is, to his credit, outspoken against both gay marriage and abortion. The former actually surprises me a little, as it seems that opposition to gay marriage is the first to suffer from defenestration when erstwhile evangelicals want to "cross the aisle", so to speak (Ted Haggard, call your office). But my one major complaint about Pastor Warren, up until now, is that he has given the appearance that he enjoys (and seeks) the limelight just a little bit too much. This latest incident only strengthens that assessment. And Barack Hussein Obama, as we all know, is about as far-left on abortion as one can be without actually performing them in front of an audience at birthdays and bar-mitzvahs free of charge. His stance on gay marriage is a bit more "nuanced", as the left likes to describe inconsistent and electorally-motivated stances. But nevertheless, it's safe to say that the Big Gay Homo Community has a sympathetic ear in our president-elect.

What do they have in common? Well, Pastor Warren is very much a "bleeding heart evangelical" -- which may not be a bad thing, really -- in the sense that he prioritizes certain issues that orthodox conservatives tend not to: HIV/AIDS in Africa (as opposed to the bathhouses of San Francisco), the environment, the poor, etc. All of these things we are called as Christians to support, so I can't fault him for that (I think I could write a whole post on this, and perhaps I will). So I think each man perceives a kindred spirit in the other, but perhaps for erroneous reasons.

But again, it is yet another manifestation of the Obama Temptation to be okay with this. Because, again, it all boils down to support for the man, as opposed to support for the office. Rick Warren is in no way obligated to perform the invocation for Obama. But by agreeing to do so, he effectively affixes his imprimatur to the Obama Presidency, as if to say "Hey, Evangelical Christians, it's okay to like this guy".

And, please forgive me, Lord, if I am wrong, but I can't help but believe that this is the exact reason for Obama's choice. He says "hey, Bible-thumping fundies, I picked your #1 celebrity to do my inauguration, so you can trust me!" And many, many gullible dupes, who go to church every Sunday and vote Republican only because their gut (and maybe pastor) tells them to, but lack the skills for critical self-reflection and investigation of the actual issues, will internalize that message, and Obama will have his loyal "bipartisan" army.

Maybe I'm wrong. I am, quite literally, praying that I am. Maybe Pastor Warren had a great heart-to-heart with Obama, and Obama has now seen the light on abortion. Maybe this is a shot across the bow, Obama declaring that his true sympathies now lay (lie? I never get that right) on the right sight of the aisle with regard to genuinely moral issues. If that were the case, as I've said before, it would devastate the two-party system, because it would probably flip a supermajority of the Right's base of "values voters" (ooh, another whole post -- the ramifications and subsequent axial tilt/paradigm shift of such a split!). Alternately, maybe Rick Warren views this as an opportunity to sermonize and rebuke from "the belly of the beast", so to speak. Maybe he will give a rousing, revivalist invocation that will sear the souls of all who hear it, and enrage everyone on the left for decades to come. Either one of those would be an excellent outcome.

But my gut tells me that it's two powerful men seeking to exploit each other. Please, God, let my gut be wrong.

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Anonymous Marty said...

I don't know why I once had hope for this Warren guy.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Regarding the call in certain Christian precincts to get behind Obama and give him a chance, cuz maybe he's not so bad: as I've mentioned before, one of the most admirable things about many Christians, as well as one of the most frustrating and foolish things, is their willingness, nay, at times eagerness, to suspend judgment.

3:12 PM  

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