have we been rick-rolled by barack obama?
well, sort of. but not astley. warren.
barack obama's choice of rev. rick warren to give the invocation at his inauguration has created a firestorm of noisy opinion from both the left and the right. how can obama invite a man who a) compares same-sex relationships to incest and polygamy, b) believes that not only homosexuals, but jews, catholics, and non-believers are all going to hell, and c) fought vociferously to pass california's proposition 8, to play a significant part in this important event? conversely, how can a pastor who so vehemently opposes abortion rights accept an invitation from a man who vehemently supports them?
not long ago i took part in a fairly in-depth conversation with a friend who is a biblical literalist. believe it or not, i know several folks who share these same beliefs. in a world full of theater folk, liberal upper-west-siders and progressives, i am lucky to have a diverse array of friendships that enrich me, confuse me, and sometimes frustrate me to no end.
this particular conversation turned into a bit of a free-for-all: the original topic had been barack obama and his candidacy for president but, with my guidance i suppose, it shifted to gay civil rights and abortion. (we'd already covered dinosaurs, shellfish, and the great sea monsters.)
i was and remain convinced that the way to move the bar forward on gay civil equality is to engage in debate and conversation. isolation is never a good thing. in these back and forths, i am not always the best at keeping my feelings in check, and sometimes my emotions get the best of me. still, i try.
i try, i think, because there is a part of me that finds it unfathomable that in today's world there are still those "my way or the highway" people. that highway, in many of their minds, leads only to hell. (where i will be someday with my catholic, jewish, and athiest friends, actually discussing life, sans brick walls.)
i have always been a practical person. from childhood my religious and spiritual beliefs were formed more by what i saw and experienced than what i was "taught." i was born with a healthy dose of skepticism, but also a sincere desire and willingness to learn and grow and believe.
i still believe, in my heart, that the only way to reach those people who judge my "behavior" and "lifestyle" (whether they do so in public or in private) – the only way to convince them that i am not a threat to them, their beliefs, their marriage, or their children – is to live openly and honestly among them in the real world. after all, they are as much a part of it as i am. i disagree with them as strongly as they with me.
so let rev. warren speak. let him be an example of how we on the left are willing to engage those we disagree with. i may not be welcome in warren's church, but he is welcome in mine.
we can live with people like warren. work with them, argue with them, and even pray with them. and truly, is it not rev. warren's followers who should be in an uproar about his agreeing to speak for a president who claims to be a "fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian americans?" (and yes, obama said "fierce.")
and who knows? if we're nice, maybe we'll get more water and donuts.