Thursday, December 18, 2008

Purpose-Driven Obama

Sometimes the cultural choices made by political figures can be as revealing as their alliances for getting things done. The down sides of cabinet picks like Hillary Clinton, Jim Jones, Ken Salazar, and retained Robert Gates were obvious to all, but Obama is taking the most heat for the invocation beginning his inauguration, which will be led by the author of The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren of the Saddleback (Mega-)Church. The minute I heard the pick (and before griping emerged), I knew Warren was likely to be shot by both sides - conservative evangelists consider him a liberal poseur for the evangelical movement, while liberals don't like his stances against abortion and gay marriage.

I've seen Warren's videos for Purpose-Driven Life, and I find him nerdy with a disarming high-pitched laugh, but not filled with the Calvinist venom of many of his brethren. I could live with the invocation, albeit with annoyance, just as I lived with Obama saying conclusively that he doesn't believe in gay marriage. Maybe Obama felt he had to pay penance for the ramblings of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Still, you're judged by the company you keep, and in this case, maybe Obama feels his position is strong enough so that he does not have to throw doggie bones to the progressives. Michael Albert of Z magazine gave us three alternatives to understanding the directions Obama might take after winning the election. Obama's actual trajectory was more conservative than the worst of Albert's predictions. I won't join any protests against Warren, and I hope he gives a good invocation. But I am looking to 2009 with more skepticism every day.


Ruth said...

This choice will make my family very happy - at least 2 brothers, one sister and some newphews and nieces.

Does someone in the administration have to keep bone piles on a strange multi-armed scale, like Kali or Durga, to be sure one arm doesn't start flailing and beating on the rest? I find it all very tiresome, and while I disagree with Obama on gay marriage, my own gay nephew is fine with civil unions.

I could never be a politician. We watched Andy Griffith the other night when Sam Jones (Ken Berry) runs for city council, and all his friends help him get elected. Then at the victory party they start sidelining him to ask for favors. He humpfs out to the porch for air and questions why he ran in the first place. Wish I could remember what Andy said to him in all his wisdom.

Loring Wirbel said...

Thus be it ever - spoils are the universal name of the game. But you're right, the whole whine at Warren scenario seems as useful as the boycott of Cinemark theaters that show Milk - like it's ultimately counter-productive.

Don said...

Maybe it's one of those "see, I'm not as bad as Limbaugh says I am" for the nervous gun-buying republicans?

Loring Wirbel said...

Don, he was really reaching out to evangelicals in the late summer, though it always seemed like a hopeless cause. If he was determined to pick an evangelical in order to outwit the talk-radio wackos, Rick Warren was his best choice. But someone pointed out to me that the web site of the Saddleback Church says that gays and lesbians are welcome to services but cannot become members, and that Warren called for the assassination of Ahmadenijad, so maybe he isn't as nice a Bible-thumper as I thought.