Rick Warren, Barack Obama, and Melissa Etheridge

Josh asked me the other day for my thoughts on President-Elect Obama inviting Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about politics since early November…it’s just not my thing. (I’m still subscribed to Nate Silver’s 538 blog, but frankly, the Coleman-Franken recount interests me as much as the opera). So even though I don’t really have a strong opinion about this…here’s a few of my thoughts…

+ I thought it was a ballsy move for Obama.
He knew those on the left would hate this choice, but he did it anyway. So good for him.

+ Had something like this happened during the campaign, Obama’s conservative critics would have called this posturing and trying to buy votes. Well, he’s already won. So you can’t play that card. (Although if he was already posturing to set himself up for re-election in 4 years, that would be quite a crafty move.)

+ I like what Larry Shallenberger wrote at the Burnside Blog, saying Rick Warren is probably exactly where he is supposed to be.

+ I’m glad Rick Warren said yes. Anybody with a lick of sense understands that by giving this invocation, Rick is not adapting the principles or morals or politics of Barack Obama. He’s not giving a vote of confidence to everything Barack Obama believes in (and vice versa). The two of them agree on much and disagree on much. We all realize that. It’s about time we stopped building walls with the bricks of disagreement, and started building bridges with the planks of agreement. You can’t have much of a conversation through a wall, but you can certainly have one on a bridge. I think that’s what Rick Warren is doing here. He’s not compromising his values. He’s engaging in the process, with held head high and an utmost respect for a president-elect he doesn’t always agree with, and he’s taking his values and beliefs with him.

UPDATE: No sooner had I posted this about building bridges than I read about the recent conversation between Rick Warren and Melissa Etheridge. (from Melissa Etheridge’s article in The Huffington Post):

I told my manager to reach out to Pastor Warren and say “In the spirit of unity I would like to talk to him.” They gave him my phone number. On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick… He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn’t want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited me to his church, I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids. He told me of his wife’s struggle with breast cancer just a year before mine.

When we met later that night, he entered the room with open arms and an open heart. We agreed to build bridges to the future.

I don’t know where this is all going, and that’s ok. I won’t fear change, I won’t fear hard questions, and I won’t fear people and things that I don’t understand. I will love and I will pray and I will submit to the Spirit of God that I believe is leading me during these few short years I have on earth. I will do this when it is easy and feels good, and I’ll do it when it is hard and doesn’t feel so good. I will continue to learn and never think I know it all. I will hold firm to my beliefs, but never assume I have all the answers, and always be willing to dialogue and engage with others. I believe this is what Jesus asked of his followers and I believe he was who he claimed to be, so that’s what I’m trying to do.

So what about you all? What are your thoughts on Warren and Obama? Respectful and honest opinions only please…