Posts Tagged ‘Rick Warren’

The Purpose-Driven Inauguration

January 3, 2009

I was not at all surprised that Barack Obama picked Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. Not that I called it, but hey, I did write that “he’s headed towards being the next Billy Graham, only without the anti-Semitism.” I was surprised at the outraged reaction of many of my fellow liberals, including those who are generally thoughtful and reasonable—see for example Dahlia Lithwick (whose writing I love) et al. of Slate‘s “XX Factor.”1 We liberals loved Obama’s inclusive bipartisan rhetoric, but many of us are apparently appalled to find that he actually meant it.

Now I understand not much liking Rick Warren. I wouldn’t go to his church. His book left me cold.2 I am annoyed about Proposition 8. But (AFAICT) Warren is very much not Pat Robertson and James Dobson. Maybe I’m deluding myself, but he really does seems to represent what’s good about evangelical Christianity. And there is much that is, or can be, good about evangelical Christianity. The fact that so many of us liberals don’t seem to understand that saddens me. Anathemizing anyone who disagrees with you just isn’t good policy. Warren and the many evangelicals he represents don’t demonize us; we shouldn’t demonize them.

The Bush administration and its many admirers lived in an echo chamber that drowned out anything they didn’t want to hear. We shouldn’t make that mistake.

[But if you’d prefer to think of Obama as Machiavellian than broad-minded, see this.]

 

1. Christopher Hitchens, on the other hand, objects to Warren for more considered self-consistent reasons: he objects to anyone religious.

2. True, I had a hard time getting past the font.

The Purpose-Driven Pastor

August 18, 2008

I failed to mention the other night that the real winner of Rick Warren’s “Civil Forum” was Rick Warren. He came across as articulate and intelligent, as a devout man of God, and as a genial regular guy you’d want to be your pal. Evangelicals already knew who he was and (as far as I know) held him in pretty high regard; but I should think this exposure will also score him major points with the rest of us. His affect is nothing like that of the vile televangelists that so sully evangelical Christianity’s reputation.

Since he apparently is on good terms with both candidates, I would imagine he’s headed towards being the next Billy Graham, only without the anti-Semitism.

Mind you, this is only based on my superficial observations on Saturday. I know little about him beyond that. I started reading one of his books once, but didn’t get very far; I didn’t find it all that interesting, and pretentious type weenie me had troubles with the dreadful font1

1Actually, it’s a fine display font, which is what it was intended to be. It’s dreadful only when abused as a text font.

The Purpose-Driven Candidates

August 16, 2008

Just watched (more or less) Rick Warren’s forum with Barack Obama and John McCain, and I thought I’d get my impressions down quickly before I’m polluted by pundits.

Though it pains and surprises me to say it, I thought McCain won the evening. He was both genial and decisive, in that folksy way of his. He seemed much more comfortable than Obama, who seemed unsure just how much to pander to Warren’s crowd—McCain had no doubts there. Obama suffered from the curse of the intellectual liberal, wanting to eschew easy and popular but fundamentally silly soundbites, and trying to give reasonably nuanced answers. Alas, the American People do not seem particularly interested in nuance.

And nuance not something with which McCain is noticably burdened. Asked whether they believed in Evil and what they would do about it (multiple choice, something like “understand it, contain it, defeat it”), Obama rambled for a bit, while McCain answered “defeat it” without having to think. Then he said something about going to the gates of hell to capture Osama bin Laden. Seriously. Not a terribly realistic or useful answer, but I fear it’s what people like to hear.

I also remain annoyed with Obama for being against same-sex marriage. Mere political posturing? Don’t know, I think he’s been pretty consistent about it. Interestingly, he and McCain’s stated positions on that tonight were pretty similar—they’re both against it personally, both think it should be left to the states, both oppose a constitutional amendment (with McCain adding a proviso about whether states should have to recognize marriages from other states)—although again I think McCain sounded decisive and Obama waffly.

The pandering question is sort of an interesting one—the setting was obviously evangelical, but I presume this had a much wider audience watching on TV (e.g. me). How did all the God talk go over in America’s living rooms? Probably pretty well, actually.