In the film, Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood plays a man who is as racist and hate-filled as they come. He hates the Priest; he really hates his Hmong neighbors. He flings every possible epithet there is during the course of the film - it's really difficult to empathize with his character, except to see how his neighbors continue to include him and through that process of inclusion he is changed.
In The Big Book Of Alcoholics Anonymous, there's a phrase that says "we are people who normally would not mix." But through the process of recovery and the inclusive nature of AA, we find ourselves embracing people with whom we disagree on other issues - and they become close friends.
President Obama ran a campaign of inclusion - he embraces people with whom he disagrees, because he knows at the deepest level that only through intense dialogue can people be touched. Asking Rick Warren to give the Invocation is just such a moment - perhaps, with enough dialogue and exposure to various people he despises, Rick Warren can be changed and his heart can be opened. Even if just a little, it's a step in the right direction.
I don't like Warren, nor his message of hate - I disagree with him on so many levels - but I would be a fool to close the door on dialogue. I've got friends who hate homosexuality, and voted for Prop 8. We disagreed. We discussed. We are still friends, and I am sorry for THEIR closed-mindedness. It is their loss to exclude people. I find my life is made richer by the inclusion of people who are completely different than I am.
President Obama inherited a nation that is in deep trouble, courtesy of an administration that was filled with haters and people who excluded so many. But he is practicing a principle that we in AA must embrace and live by, which is to recognize we are all in the same boat and unless we put aside our differences and find a way to work together, we'll all sink in the same boat.
I would like to think that this sort of attitude and behavior can have a positive effect on people like Pastor Warren. Apparently, Clint Eastwood thinks so too and showed it in Gran Torino.