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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rick Warren: Part Deux

Well, I went back the the Saddleback Web Page and, to my amazement, tons of stuff have been taken down. Like, what they believe about homosexuality, marriage, abortion, etc.

Even one of the videos which always popped up when you googled his name is gone.

There may be lots of reasons for this, and not all of them are good or noble, but I'm willing to entertain the notion that bigotry and prejudice never hold up well under the harsh glare of public scrutiny.

It may also be true that there is a method in what appears to be the madness of Obama's selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration.

I'm thinking he and his advisers are thinking, "Hey, you thought Jeremiah Wright was bad. Take a look at this good ole White boy."

Eating crow is never tasty. Eating the LGBT equivalent to 'Jim Crow' segregation has to go down sideways. Denying civil rights is, well, denying civil rights. And, it is undeniable that LGBT people are being denied our civil right to marriage. Why else would you need to change the constitution?

Pastor Warren has, apparently, recently met with Melissa Ethridge which left the poor woman gushing and hopeful. She wrote about it at Huffington Post entitled "The Choice is Ours Now." (Hat tip to David of Montreal for sending it to me.)

Here's how she ends her essay:

"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.

Brothers and sisters the choice is ours now. We have the world's attention. We have the capability to create change, awesome change in this world, but before we change minds we must change hearts. Sure, there are plenty of hateful people who will always hold on to their bigotry like a child to a blanket.

But there are also good people out there, Christian and otherwise that are beginning to listen. They don't hate us, they fear change. Maybe in our anger, as we consider marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands. Maybe instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world.

Maybe if they get to know us, they wont fear us.

I know, call me a dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.

I will be attending the inauguration with my family, and with hope in my heart. I know we are headed in the direction of marriage equality and equal protection for all families."

Okay, Melissa, you are a dreamer. Nothing wrong with that. If we cease to dream, we live without hope and life without hope is, well, life as we have known it for the past eight years.

And, goodness knows, we could all do a lot more to help bring hope into the world - to be vehicles of hope in action.

The global pandemic of HIV/AIDS is one good example. Melissa's right: a much better protest than an angry vigil around his house would be for 'the great homosexual unwashed' to show up at one of his ministries and volunteer to work.

And no, I don't think Rick Warren has experienced a personal transformation.

I'm betting that he still wants that for you, however. I have not doubt, that he is already thinking the same hopeful thoughts about Melissa as she is thinking about him.

(It's fascinating to me but while many evangelical (and non evangelical) heterosexual, white men of privilege find themselves repulsed by gay men of any color, they are positively fascinated by lesbians. I guess it's the old thing of wanting most what you can not have.)

Even so, I think Rick Warren is at least beginning to change the way he is perceived publicly. Or, at least, wanting to change his public persona.

If he can do that, well, it might not exactly be a chink in the old Evangelical armor, but it might move him to find other ways of thinking and being.

Clearly, he wants to be on "Team Obama."

It will be interesting to see how much of his social-religious capital he's willing to spend for his time in the political spotlight.

It will be even more interesting to see what sitting at the table with LGBT people, breaking bread with us, getting to know our families, understanding the normality of our lives, will do to soften his heart.

It just might change his mind. Eventually.

Okay, I don't trust him completely. I trust that creating a climate of change can, actually, change things.

There used to be a popular song by Destiny's Child which went, "Free your mind and the rest will follow." That may be true, but I think it was Vaclav Havel who said that "the transformation of the world begins with the transformation of the human heart."

One human heart at a time. Rick Warren's heart is a good enough place to start.

This nation is dedicated to the idea of a 'more perfect union'.

Not perfect.

'More perfect.'

We are perfected in the doing. One day at a time. One person at a time. One human heart at a time.

Let's do it.


PseudoPiskie said...

And editing out the controversial parts of a website indicates a change of heart? What would happen if a gay or lesbian couple decided to attend his church and hold hands while there?

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, while you are on this wonderful letter writing project, you may want to put the Vatican on your mailing list. Check this out:

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

PseudoPiskie - change takes time. In five or six years . . . well, who knows what might happen?

Whiteycat - Okay, I confess, I'm a dreamer, too, but I'm not THAT much of a dreamer. I think I'll just wait for God and Bennie to sort it all out on the other side.

Bill said...

Well, only time will tell, but even ex-slaver John Newton had a change of heart.

"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see."

Amazing Grace indeed, if this is truly the case.

PseudoPiskie said...

Hee. I wrote the comment before you finished the post. It was much sorter.

Keeping opponents together is important. Jim Simons+ in Ligonier, PA may disagree with much of what you and I believe the Bible says but he and others in Pittsburgh are staying in the house providing hope for the future. While I suspect that Ethridge is a bit naive and Warren is charismatic, I believe Obama's choice of him and the subsequent publicity has cast a spotlight into the dark places of Warren's house providing hope for the future. Maybe someday a future pope will also see the light.

I'm hopeful too but I'm not holding my breath.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Yup, Piskie, my finger slipped and I hit 'publish' before I had finished. Never good to do this while you're trying to drink coffee.

I'm not holding my breath, either, but you and I have both been around long enough to know that it's because change - real change - is about taking baby steps to the door.

Unknown said...

Thank you for a different way to view this!

Suzer said...

You can count me among the dreamers. Throughout this controversy, I have held fast to the fact that, while I'm not crazy about Rick Warren for several reasons (including is dreadful and watered-down theology), there is room for a change of heart in him as well as in us. I think a protest of his church or, even worse, his home, is entirely uncalled for. I'm afraid the whole issue of him speaking at the inauguration has been blown out of proportion. And quite a few folks seem to be angry at ME that I'm not as angry at Warren or Obama as they are. Go figure.

If we leave room for God's transformative Grace, perhaps in 5 or 10 years, we may see some change among evangelicals like Warren. Perhaps we won't, but if we don't begin extending the invitation, we will never know. Change takes time. People hate to be told to wait, but I'm afraid that God doesn't work on our timetable, and changing hearts and minds toward Love is not always as easy as it would seem. Years of Untruth must be undone before some folks will be able to see the boundlessness of God's Love.

That said, I am not sure that Warren or the vast majority of conservative evangelicals will ever believe, as I do, that committed homosexual relationships are not the sin that is spoken of in the Bible, but I do hold out the hope that they may come to realize that our country separates church and state for a reason. I am hopeful that some conservative Christians may eventually agree, at the very least, that affording equal civil rights in no way diminishes their religious belief. I may be naive, but I do suspect that change is coming in my lifetime.

James said...

The bible says, "can a leopard change its spots?"

Like David Duke, Warren hasn't changed his spots at all - he's re-inventing himself for publicity to further his political cause.

All one has to do is listen to him say, "I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE Gays" to see the hypocrisy. George Wallace said he didn't dislike [Black people] either.

Bill said...

Let me play Devil’s Advocate.
If you’re going to quote the Bible, in all fairness, you have to give the whole quote and not just the part that makes your point.
The expression “a leopard cannot change its spots” comes from a Greek proverb that appears in the Bible (Jeremiah 13:23):
The King James Version has it as: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.
And of course, the perfect quote for Advent:
"For nothing shall be impossible for God." Luke 1:37

Jim said...


I actually knew Gov. Wallace. He did not dislike blacks -- that was true.

Late in his life, I think he did realize that he had been wrong and he was more than a bit embarrassed about that.


The Most Honored Julan Smithee said...

En Vogue NOT Destiny's Child. You're off by about half a decade. Funky Divas, the disc Free Your Mind is from, came out 6 years before DC's first disc.

Hearing folks talk like En Vogue is old school makes me laugh. I remember when Bette Midler was considered The New Diva (to replace Cher, who'd replaced Streisand, who'd replaced Diana Ross, who'd replaced Judy freakin' Garland). And I had friends who thought NOBODY had ever replaced Judy.

DC replaced En Vogue to an extent, but you really ought to know your history.

Kay & Sarah said...

Words are cheap (including removing offending words from a website). I'll be watching Rick Warren's actions. I'll be really convinced when I see him perform a wedding ceremony for a gay or lesbian couple!!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Julian - mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima nissan stanza.

Jim said...

Mr. Jefferson believed, and I do too, that the marketplace of ideas will eventually show really bad ideas for what they are if the light of day is shined on them. Perhaps the crud that was taken down by Mr. Warren's web administrators shows that process at work. I rather doubt that he or his followers have changed their spots, but perhaps they have figured out their ideas are indefensible.


VTcrone said...

Here's the latest from Rachel Maddow's Show about the good pastor (12/23).

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

YIKES! Our girl Rachel takes no prisoners. Go, Rachel!

Okay, everybody, copy and past VT Crone's link to Rachel's site and tell me what you think: Will this controversy go away? Will Mr. Obama rescind the invitation to Pastor Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration?