I Don't Get It

There are a lot things in this life I just don’t get.  I don’t get mosquitos. I don’t get why there is no play-off system in college football. I don’t get why America re-elected (OK elected, he didn’t really win the first time) George W. Bush in 2004 after Dubya lied to us about Weapons of Mass Destructions, chipped away at the constitution, made America a torturing regime, spied on our own citizens, and was obviously the worst – president – ever (OK, except possibly for James Buchanan and Herbert Hoover).  So Barack Obama’s selection of Rick Warren, pastor of the Evenagelical Saddleback megachurch and author of the mega-best selling The Purpose Driven Life to give the invocation at the inauguration leaves me, like so many others, completely and utterly dumbfounded.  I am in a total and utter static-driven maze of I don’t get it.

I hope there is a rabbit to be pulled out the hat.  I hope there has been some serious back room, Chicago politics type negotiations and serious heart to heart faith sharing that has had a Demascus Road effect Warren and that he will pray for acceptance of gay and lesbian people in our society on inauguration day.  But I am not holding my breath.  That’s why I don’t get it.

I hear Marvin Gaye singing “What’s Goin’ On” in the background.  Here’s Why I don’t get it in Rick Warren’s own words.

From The Nation, 2005:

He spoke of the tyranny of activist judges,” who obstruct the will of the majority, he evinces no understanding of minority rights or the judiciary’s role in enforcing them. Explaining his views about homosexuality and gay rights, he notes, “I don’t think that homosexuality is the worst sin,” and, “By the way, my wife and I had dinner at a gay couple’s home two weeks ago. So I’m not [a] homophobic guy, okay?”

Warren’s desire to avoid discussions of issues like abortion, stem cell research and gay rights seems genuine, and is obviously wise. His success derives in part from his focus on crusades that unite people–the alleviation of global poverty and disease. But his faith (like that of others) is inherently divisive. At the end of the day, God is a divider, not a uniter: Non-Christians, however devout, go to hell, along with nonbelievers, whom Warren regards, quite conventionally, as overcome by existential angst and essentially amoral. Without God, “life would have no purpose or meaning,” he asserts. “There would be no right or wrong.”

it is unrealistic to expect people who believe that salvation requires embracing Christ to accept secular laws and practices that defy what they consider His teachings. From their perspective, your liberty may be the least of what’s at stake. People who respect your right to go to hell may have little regard for laws that tempt their children to go with you.

And here’ s Pastor Warren not getting gay on Larry King Live:

KING: All right, but if you desire another man and you’re a man and you’re an adult, who are you harming if the two of you agree and it’s your life?


KING: It’s not Rick Warren’s life or Larry King’s life. It’s their life.

WARREN: Well, again, I would just say I think to me the issue is, is it natural? Is it the natural thing? I mean here’s an interesting thing I have to ask. How can you believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution and homosexuality at the same time? Now think about this.

If Darwin was right, which is survival of the fittest then homosexuality would be a recessive gene because it doesn’t reproduce and you would think that over thousands of years that homosexuality would work itself out of the gene pool.

KING: So, we take the reverse. The creator then approves of it.

WARREN: Well, I believe…

KING: Darwin’s wrong. The creator is right. Gays are right.

WARREN: Yes well, of course, I believe that God created one man for one woman for life. A lot of the problems — as a pastor I’ve notice that when God gives certain rules they’re really for our benefit. They’re not because God’s capricious or just “I think that I’m going to make your life miserable.”

Perhaps, most importantly at this moment in history, here’s Warren on Prop 8:

“If you believe what the Bible says about marriage,” he declared on his website, “you need to support Proposition 8.”

That is, you need to be against equal marriage rights for all people (to be clear, if you believe the Bible, says Warren, you need to be against gay marriage).

Warren’s Saddleback Church has, according to ex-members who have been through it, a ministry that tries to “cure” people of their gayness.  Here’s a comment from Andrew Sullivan’s Atlantic blog Daily Dish:

Most people probably don’t know this, but Warren’s Saddleback Church has a Friday night program called Celebrate Recovery. …There is also a group for those who struggle with “same sex attraction”, the discourse of which is directly borrowed from the ex-gay movement. I know this, of course, because I was involved with the group in Spring of 2007.

I agree with Andrew Sullivan – “I fought against the Christianism of Bush for this?”

We are at a moment in our national history that is allowing us to name our issues, name our reality, own our pain, own our history.  We can talk for the moment about race, if we choose to seize it. We can talk, for the moment about sexuality if we choose to seize it. We can talk, for the moment about equality and the promise of America, if we choose to seize it.  We can talk, for the moment about the false promise of unchecked capitalism and the philosophy of greed, if we choose to seize it.  OR we can remain silent once again, retreat into political expediency and over compromise, and miss the moment.

Barack Obama has created a moment in time that allows a political ripeness.  Seasons like this come along to infrequently to waste on the rotten fruit of the gospel of hate and exclusion.  That’s why I don’t get the selection of Rick Warren.

The selection of Rick Warren creates a creeping distrust in me. I’ve encountered his kind up close.  Those who speak of Christ and pretend to good works, but hold out salvation as if Jesus Christ was their own personal invention, a gift they made in their own garage workshop to give as they see fit to whoever meets their own personal standard of righteousness.  They dress it up in nice language, clothing hate and discrimination in the words of love.  In many ways, they are worse than the Phelps crowd. At least you know where the Phelps folks stand and as hurtful as they are, they don’t prentend to be anythin less or anything different.

My hope was that Obama would use the inauguration to make a bold speech to America along the lines of his speech on race last February. Instead it looks like he’s actually supporting some of the worst of the last 8 years.  What’s Goin’ On? I don’t get it.  Disappointed isn’t nearly a strong enough word.

This past fall our church held a prayer service in support of gay rights on the town square here in Southlake, TX.  We had no idea what the reaction would be.  The event itself was rather uneventful, but media coverage of the event, spurred this response.

This ad ran in about 12 local weekly papers on the same day.  Granted, as President of the United States, Barack Obama has more to lose it could be argued than a small UU congregation in Texas for standing up for gay rights, but I want him to anyway.   I want a President who has more courage than I do, not less.  I want a President who has less fear than I do, not more.  I want a President who would rather be on the side of justice than on the side of winning re-election.  But what do I know? I don’t get much.

One thought on “I Don't Get It

  1. I just came across your blog through Facebook, and I am really pleased to have found this take on Obama’s choice of Warren.

    Jubilation does not begin to describe what I felt with Obama’s election – finally change and hope and someone to inspire this country to be the amazing nation it thinks it already is. I admit that I have not followed each cabinet pick as closely as I analyzed each pre-election statement, but I’ll bounce back from this case of political fatigue.

    Your post was the first time I have really sat down with the whole Rick Warren issue. Before I just let the NPR reports pass in one ear and out the other – offering a brief prayer that Obama really does have the rabbit to pull from a hat and that there is a deep, sensible logic at the root of the choice. Thanks for credited background on Warren’s position. Part of me wondered if these reactions were based on fear rather than facts, but I can see that Warren’s detestable positions are truly his and ones that he discusses freely.

    I cannot throw up my hands and believe that we have been signed up for another four years of divisive, wolfish culture wars wrapped in a blue sheep’s clothing. I think a strategy used by one of the wisest women I have ever know, my teacher at the healing artists’ school in which I am enrolled. Whenever she encounters people and forces that are contrary to her vision of harmony and compassion, she finds ways to fold them into the mix of her life. By incorporating their energy into her life, she works to incorporate her own energy into theirs.

    It seems a dangerous, high stakes game for Obama to try to do this at something as high profile as the inauguration, but maybe we can try to believe that it is alchemy, not political opportunism at work. Maybe?

    Blessings and thanks for this,

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