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 yet...it can be a tough monkey to get off your back.