Thursday, December 18, 2008

Inaugural Brouhaha

I'll admit that I am, generally speaking, a political junkie. I've been detoxing since the campaign and election season.

I was interested to read today, however, that Obama chose Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. My first reaction was - ewwwww. Honestly, I'm not a fan of organized religion. I consider myself to be a moderately spiritual person, I just don't like religions - I find them limiting, negative, and intolerant, for the most part, and I think that rather than bringing people together they generally push people apart.

I try not to pay attention to religious stuff, other than to notice that there's usually way too much of it in every day public life. It gets pretty tiresome.

So after I thought about the whole Rick Warren issue I came to several conclusions:

1. First, why is there a religious invocation at the inauguration at all? Isn't the swearing in of a new president a government/state/secular event? What ever happened to separation of church and state?

2. If we must include religion in yet another public event, it seemed at first glance that Rick Warren was not a very wise choice for Obama. His selection has stirred up quite a bit of controvery in socially progressive quarters. I'm not a big admirer of people like Warren who use their power to exclude, subjugate, or pass judgement on other people, and by choosing Warren, Obama seems to be condoning Warren's views and actions. Coming from a man who ran on a fairly socially progressive platform, this doesn't appear very logical.

3. On the other hand, Obama has a seriously big partisan mess to deal with and he also promised during the campaign to try to bring people together. Reaching out to a man with whom he claims to disagree on many social issues is a step in the direction of inclusiveness and healing across parties. Choosing Warren for this ceremony doesn't mean Obama is going to adopt his views. It is only a symbolic ceremony, after all.

In trying to mend the broken and bitter feelings left after 8 years of one-sided overzealous cliquishness, it will be impossible for Obama to make everyone happy all the time. He has a very difficult job to do aside from being president: he has to find a way to help peevish and petty politicians and other leaders and organizations come together and compromise, accept each other, and agree to at least listen to each other, even if they disagree.

He needs to help all of us understand that it's not us against them, but rather we're all Americans and we have to tolerate the vast variety of people who make up our social fabric. No one ideology or lifestyle or geographic location is superior or more acceptable or more valuable than any other.

I, and the majority of the country, have really high hopes for Obama and people want to believe in him. He has enormous expectations to live up to. Let's give the man some room to prove that he can do the things we need him to do. By choosing Warren for the inaugural invocation Obama is not purposely snubbing the social groups and issues that Warren disapproves of, but rather he is trying to reach out and smooth the waters.

Anyway, that's my rant for today. I guess I haven't completely detoxed from politics can be a tough monkey to get off your back.


alana said...

First, brouhaha is one of my most favoritest words, so kudos for that.

Secondly, I couldn’t agree more. You’ve read enough of my rants about religion to know how I feel about it, so I'll control myself for once ;) I really hope Obama is just trying to make the other side feel included with his administration.

Maybe we could start a twelve step program for us politic junkies.

CDP said...

Another political junkie! I know that I'm a political junkie because my four year old can identify Rachel Maddow on sight. She's as big as SpongeBob in our house. Great post. I'm having a hard time accepting Obama's arguments defending this decision. I will say for Warren that he's done a lot to make evangelical Christians care about AIDS and poverty and the plight of Africa. But the anti-gay hatred is hard to get past. I'm still hoping for the best.

Embee said...

Alana and CDP - I spelled brouhaha wrong...sad face. I'm trying to be very zen - feel the yin and yang nature of the world, understanding that we need balance. Obama's just trying to bring balance (please oh please oh please). But it's hard after 8 years of being drug kicking and screaming to the right not to rebound like a bungie cord all the way to the left. I tend to prefer the middle anyway. In the words of Rodney King...can't we all get along?

Tyler R. Matthews said...

I love the positive views on the subject. It is a bit of a catch 22. I just HOPE that Obama doesn't throw the LGBT communities issues down the proverbial drain. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what kind of magic he can pull off after Ding Bat Bush.

Susan Storm Smith said...

Someone asked yesterday on Twitter if Warren would become the next Billy Graham. Warren is in the emergent church establishment, which means that there are also new age themes and education that goes on. He is a proponent of all roads go to heaven. So he does follow the line with Obama in that respect. Obama and Warren are very much in sync with each other in many ways.

As always, enjoy your blog!

Suldog said...

I don't know. The country's founding documents express a belief in a higher power, so I don't see a major problem.

The separation of church and state has a lot more to do with the state not forcing religious views on the populace, or not making any religion THE state religion, than anything else. There is nothing in any code or law that specifies that someone in office has to put his religious beliefs aside. Obama expressed his belief in God, and the Christian God at that, during the campaign. It would be odd for him to backtrack on that now.

As for the choice of Warren, well, nobody is going to be everybody's cup of tea. I probably wouldn't have chosen him, either, but (as you say) it's mostly symbolic, so no use sweating it.

Embee said...

Suldog - thanks for your comments! I guess I didn't express myself well enough...I don't want Obama or anyone else to put their religious beliefs aside. I'm happy for everyone to believe whatever they want! I just don't understand combining a specifically Christian invocation with a public secular government event which is for the benefit of everyone in the country regardless of their religion. It's like singling out (once again) Christianity as the preferred religion. The founding fathers represented a plethora of religious viewpoints, not just Christianity. And Warren just seems like a divisive choice from someone who wants to smooth the waters. Anyway, as they say, this too shall pass, and I'm sure will have no serious lasting effect!

Beelzebub said...

I completely agree with your points here. I don't get why they bother with a religious invocation at all; I'm of the viewpoint that it's sort of unconstitutional.

But I do like how you're trying to see it from Obama's perspective, like he's trying to extend an olive branch to the dark side with Warren's selection. I just think he needs to consider the people who actually voted for him, too, and we don't like it.

I say scrap the whole thing or bring in Jeremiah Wright instead. At least that would it entertaining. :)