Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Of Eschatons and Advents and Tempests in Tea-pots



Not that anyone will listen, but really, is this so unreasonable a stance?

What we have to do is create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable, and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans. So Rick Warren has been invited to speak, Dr. Joseph Lowery -- who has deeply contrasting views to Rick Warren about a whole host of issues -- is also speaking.
And the answer is, of course: yes! Yes it damned well is !!!!

Because, you know, it's all about power. Or politics. Two conditions that often appear alike.

I don't like an invocation anyway, but is this really equivalent to a major government appointment? Has Obama elevated Rick Warren to a Cabinet level position? Is there a position of "America's Pastor," and does giving the invocation at an inauguration indicate election to the office? Quick, name the pastor who gave the invocation in 2005. In 2001. In 1997. And Googling is cheating.

The whole thing puts me in mind of something I learned from the German E&R church, although many other denominations (most of which are also the result of mergers of formerly distinct and disparate churches) claim it: "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; in all things, charity." It's that last that's the clincher: all things, and in them, charity. Probably it seems more applicable to a religious setting than a secular one, but if you think that, you haven't been involved in a church lately (or maybe it's the reason you're no longer involved!).

So I ask again: why is Obama so wrong? Because those we disagree with must be crushed under our heels, their women driven before us wailing and lamenting, their ideas shamed and vilified? You will say to me: "What if Obama had chosen a White Supremacist, or even a Black Racist, to offer the prayer?" And I would say: well, that would be an interesting choice, wouldn't it? But Rick Warren's raison d'etre is not about hating gays. It's not exactly what he's known for, is it? I think he's wrong on most things. I dislike him for his theology more than for his stance on social and civil rights issues. And I have a problem with an invocation, period.

But the continuing clamor about this selection for this tiny, tiny portion of a ceremony where most people won't even remember the Inaugural speech the next morning....well, that I just don't get.

Except as an expression of power politics. And if you haven't figured it out by now, Obama doesn't seem to play that game. He seems to believe in politics as jiu-jitsu. Whether that works or not, remains to be seen.

Update: This is what leaves me shaking my head:

That aside, I'm with Steve Benen: Whatever short term political benefit this gives Obama is transitory at best, and it's easily outweighed by the downside: It gives an enormous platform, and the appearance of moderation, to someone whose views are radically out of step with Obama's -- things that can only help Warren when he opposes Obama's agenda on social issues for the rest of his presidency.
Yeah, because Warren's mega-church, his best-selling book, and the fact that the media always gives credence to pastors with big incomes and big congregations (so long as they're white and not members of a denomination, which is why so few had heard of Jeremiah Wright before Obama came along, despite the size of his church*) mean nothing, and who gave the invocation at Obama's inauguration will mean everything!

Good grief.


*I do know of some black pastors of large non-denominational churches with high public profiles; but somehow, they never get close to being a candidate for "America's Pastor." Frankly, it seems that should spark a bit more interest, if not outrage, than it does. Oh, well.

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