Becky Says...

December 2008

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On Rick Warren - December 29

My first reaction the other day when I heard that Rick Warren had been asked to give the Invocation at President-elect Obama's inauguration was quite frankly relief that it wasn't going to be any member of the Billy Graham hierarchy, specifically that it wasn't Franklin Graham.

Truth is, I don't know a whole lot about Rick Warren. I've learned a whole lot more about him in the past few days, but I'd never heard of him until the weekend earlier this year when he hosted Obama and McCain.

So. We have a lot of people angry, hurt, confused, pick-a-negative, over this choice. And, upfront, I don't like it either.

Then we have people saying things about bridge-building and places at the table.

And I find myself confused. In the days since the announcement, we've heard statements made by Rick Warren, and we've heard him back away from some of those very statements, without actually saying something clear, like "I used to think X, now I think Y."

As to bridge-building, which I think is a fine and noble thing, even if I'm not always good at it: how do you build a bridge to somewhere that keeps shifting? How do you find the other shore when it doesn't want to be found? And for that matter, how do you get those on the opposite shore to agree that a bridge even needs building?

And the comment about a place at the table is one I took to mean something that apparently those using it in the context of the Warren invitation do not. From what I've come to understand, they mean it in terms of having discussions, looking for common ground. I, on the other hand, almost always think of it as a place at the Lord's table, at which all are welcome. And I wonder if Rick Warren would agree.

Definitely confused.

But one thing I know. Barack Obama is a brilliant, compassionate man. I'm fairly sure he has a very good reason for making this choice. Maybe he has hopes for this being an eye-opener for Rick Warren. Maybe he is just trying to let those on the Religious Right know he intends to remember they're part of the fabric of America.

Do I wish he had picked someone else? Yes. I wish he had picked some otherwise unknown military chaplain, or some hospital chaplain, or someone otherwise not a lightening rod for any cause. But again, I think he has a good, if not necessarily obvious to me, reason.

What I really wish is that we'd quit having Invocations and Benedictions at public, non-church-sponsored functions. I think if the occasion isn't specifically religious, we need to keep religion out of it. But that isn't going to happen anytime soon, and definitely not before January 20.

So I guess we'll have to wait and see what Rick Warren does, and remember that his chair at the common-ground table is just that...a chair, not a throne.

Text © copyright 2000-2008 Becky