Thursday, December 18, 2008

I understand why my BGLT friends are hurt but...

from a public speaker's point of view, the person who gives the benediction has the last word and is far more likely to be remembered than the person who gives the invocation. I know it has been a shock and a disappointment to learn that Rick Warren will give the invocation at Obama's inauguration.

Anger and calling for a reversal are very normal responses to a loss. So is sadness. But at some point it is important to look at the fact that the staunch pro-gay civil rights leader Joseph Lowery will have the last word.

I understand the outcry from the BGLT community and I support their right to holler loudly. I hope they will come to terms with their grief and, instead of continuing to feel betrayed, recognize that Lowery is in the better position. Warren is only a warm-up act, not the main event.

I see the inauguration as analogous to a worship service, in a way. The opening words are benign, mild, encouraging people to listen. There are other ceremonies involved but the climactic event is the inaugural address (or sermon) and the benediction wraps it up and sends people out fired up to go out and do something positive.

You can call it a political maneuver, and it doubtless is a payback for the support of those evangelicals who just couldn't stomach McCain/Palin. Obama has called it a bridge, an outstretched arm to those with whom he differs. That makes good sense. I'll bet Abraham Lincoln is chuckling right now: "To get rid of your enemies, make them friends" he said long ago.

I'm sorry for the pain it is causing people I love. I hope they will find hope on the other side of the pain.


Anna Banana said...

Very wise thoughts, thank you.

Dan said...

Obama says he's reaching out to people with other viewpoints -- why then doesn't he have anybody from the Ku Klux Klan participating in his inauguration? Maybe someone from the Aryan Nation, too?

Bigotry is no more acceptable against gays as it is against blacks and Jews. There is no way Rick Warren should be invited on any national stage, much less one as symbolic as this.

Obama is sending a message with this decision, but I fear that message is one of further division and hatred, not one of diversity and inclusion. I think this is a big mistake on his part, and I hope it's just that -- a mistake.

If Obama has truly decided to throw under the bus a group that supported him so strongly and ably, then he's shown himself to be nothing like his vaunted image and ideal of change. He's just another slimy politician.

Scott Wells said...

Are you kidding? The only thing that'll be remembered is that Obama threw a symbolically valuable bone to a powerful member of the Religious Right.

One who had a leadership position in Prop 8. So I think you don't understand why your BGLT friends -- or indeed, a good number of Christians who don't share Warren's views on any number of points of authority -- are hurt. And angry. And loud.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Scott. Obama's personal religious beliefs are not really gay friendly. They are socially conservative from a liberal viewpoint. He may be "building a bridge" with the religious right, but it certainly isn't a bridge to the GLBT community. I doubt that we'll be thrown a bone during his administration.

Jan S. in Portland, OR

Joel said...

For what it's worth, a lot of us conservative Jesus freaks aren't terribly happy with Warren for accepting the invitation from a pro-infanticide president-elect.

That said, I think the point being made is that, like it or lump it, Barack Obama is everyone's president. His constituency includes both Warren and Lowery, Code Pink and the Ku Klux Klan. If he chose only the farthest-left people to surround himself with, what kind of tone would that set for his presidency? If he's going to be more than one more bone of contention, he needs to represent all of us. I didn't vote for the guy, but he's going to be my president, and I kind of like that he's not going in with a vindictive attitude towards people like me.

Bill Baar said...

If you're surprised by this, you really didn't know Barack Obama well at all.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks to all for your comments. I've learned a good deal from your thoughts.