Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Does this mean we have to be nice to Rick Warren?

More like this please:

The Rev. Rick Warren, the conservative evangelical minister who will deliver the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration, has extended an olive branch to Bishop V. Gene Robinson.

Robinson, an openly gay Episcopal bishop, had reacted angrily to the selection of Warren, who opposes gay marriage, calling it a "slap in the face." But then Robinson was selected this week to give the invocation at the inaugural opening ceremony at the Sunday afternoon concert on the Mall.

Today, Warren issued a statement praising Obama for selecting Robinson, saying the president-elect "has again demonstrated his genuine commitment to bringing all Americans of goodwill together in search of common ground. I applaud his desire to be the president of every citizen."
I know left blogistan (and probably right, as well) were upset (if only mildly) that Obama had dinner with George Will and Bill Kristol and David Brooks and sundry others, last night. Rachel Maddow was still fuming tonight with +Gene Bishop over Obama's selection of Rick Warren.

But this is something we haven't seen in a public official in so long, we've forgotten what it looks like: the strength of confidence, of belief in people and in ideas, the deep faith that is sure inviting diversity does not diminish the group, but enhances it.

The argument against Rick Warren even giving the invocation always came down to: in the name of tolerance, we must be intolerant of the intolerant. The Christian teaching, of course, is just the opposite. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you. What credit is it to you to be kind to those who are kind to you? I tell you, love your enemies.

I needn't tell you who said that last line. And no, Obama is not "loving his enemies" by meeting with them, or inviting them to be with him. But neither is he practicing acceptable intolerance by refusing to tolerate those who will not tolerate all of us. And every once in awhile, that kind of practice even has a visibly good effect.

Score one for those who light candles, and don't just curse the darkness.

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