Thursday, January 22, 2009

More thoughts on Rick Warren

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.

22 comments:

Frederick said...

Wow. Clint Eatwood's character was hard to relate to? Really? Maybe it's a guy thing.

Kvatch said...

I would like to think that this sort of attitude and behavior can have a positive effect on people like Pastor Warren.

Time will tell, but I sorta doubt it.

How cynical am i? ;-)

Annie said...

Beautifully said, Jood.

Dianne said...

Does including Warren mean there can't/shouldn't be protests against him?

Obama more than many people knows the struggle of people denied their rights and it was through - in part - protest and shining a harsh light on the opressors that things changed to the degree that allowed him to become President.

As a person in a position of power with huge resources to affect how other people vote Warren should not be let off the hook for a moment. He should not be seen as worthy of a seat at the table without having earned it. A hate monger calls himself a man of God, forms a church and writes a book and that allows him a place of honor?

I think there is a huge difference between having your life enriched by people who are different and tolerating and thereby allowing discrimination.

And I still ask the same question - if Warren spoke the words he speaks about any other group of people would it be so easy to include him?

And if he were not clever enough to wrap himself in the cloak of God and prayer would it be so necessary to include him?

Doesn't smell like progress to me. I would hate for gay to be the new black.

Bubs said...

I think Obama was, maybe, right on Warren. And so are the people who are outraged by that choice, and who protest it. I have decided to suspend my disbelief for a while, at least a few months, and give Obama credit for doing what he said he intended to do, as you said in your post.

Spartacus said...

Jood... I'm quite torn by the Pastor Warren issue. On the one hand, I can totally see your point on keeping a dialogue open with people with whom you disagree, especially if in all other aspects of life, these people are your friends. They may as well be family members, too, for that matter. In short, these are people who care for you, the care for which you return in kind.

However, Pastor Warren's situation is different. It bears greater scrutiny for the fact he has a large congregation and, therefore, a pulpit/soapbox upon which to spread his anti-homosexual views far and wide. Compounding this matter is the fact that he didn't just say "homosexuality is a sin" -- a view that I find detestable in itself -- but he was quite vile in expressing them, equating homosexuality with pedophilia; which, as far as I know, he has not apologized. That is a point I can't let go and why Obama's selection of this religious leader was so scurrilous.

It's one thing to hold views against gay marriage and, in the larger sphere, gay rights. It's quite another to mock and revile the gay community in a manner so un-Christian as to be a sin itself. And the latter camp is where I place Pastor Warren. He should not have been chosen.

eProf2 said...

It may be a cliche, but if it works for Obama that's great: Hold your friends close and your enemies closer.

Nice post Jood!

Randal Graves said...

I have to second Dianne on this one. Don't worry, boss, we still love ya. :)

Pagan Sphinx said...

I only have time to read the two long comments and to applaud Spartacus and Dianne for writing them. Well said! :-)

It's good to see you blogging again, Diva Jood!

Mary Ellen said...

I'm sorry, but having Rick Warren make that invocation prayer was a slap in the face to the LGBT community. When the uproar hit after Obama made his choice, Obama picked the openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson to give an opening prayer at the Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial. This was to be shown live on an HBO broadcast for those who could not attend. This gave the gay community something to hope for, but I thought he was just throwing them a bone to shut them up. It turned out that Rev. Gene Robinson's prayer was cut out of the filming and they received a ton of angry calls from the gay community. Well, it turned out that HBO had nothing to do with cutting him out of the broadcast. HBO made this statement:

HBO said via email, "The producer of the concert has said that the Presidential Inaugural Committee made the decision to keep the invocation as part of the pre-show."

I don't think Obama is as concerned about the gay community as he is about his Evangelical base. It will be interesting to see what he does for the gay community besides making a bunch of empty promises or giving just enough to quiet their anger. Actions speak louder than words. So far, he's batting zero with the LGBT issues.

WeezieLou said...

i'm with mary ellen. yes, inclusion and dialogue are vital after the fractiousness and division of the Village Idiot - so, sit down with warren, talk with him, make a speech at an evangelical convention (esp like the inag speech) - but inviting him to that signif a role at the inag?? bad, bad form. wrong msg. hate is hate is hate is hate. and hate voiced politely is even worse. (not that i have strong feelings about this).

Fran said...

This is not hollywood & this is not a Clint Eastwood film. Real people are really being discriminated against.
I make this comparison~ Did Obama invite the KKK to be a part of the inauguration ceremony to be inclusive?

No

Rightfully so , they are hatemongers who would do harm- physical or psychological due to race discrimination. They are not a part of the solution.

Warren, as Sparticus said so well, has engaged in false accusations- because pedophiles are statistically heterosexual men, doing vile crimes against children. For him as an alleged "man of faith", and his actions to promote prop 8, official legal denial of civil rights, make him out of step, and more of a different variety of KKK mentality than someone who will champion civil rights, and non discriminatory philosophies.

Furthermore, his invocation words contradict how he lives his life -the hate, misinformation & discrimination he actively promotes.

I still contend if it were YOUR civil rights being denied, he would be offensive.

an average patriot said...

Hi Diva
He should have satisfied both sides of the spectrum between Warren and the closing! Obama wishes to reach out to all of us and he will. It is up to all of us to accept his hand!

FranIAm said...

Late to the party but nonetheless...

I found that when it was all over, in my eyes Warren seemed so pathetically small in between Robinson and Lowery.

Their broad inclusion and wisdom showed and his words felt tinny and far too infused with Jesus... and you know I am a follower of Jesus, Jood.

So I don't think it turned out to be such a bad idea at all.

One last and I think important point...I read this somewhere else and I wish I could recall where and who said it, but when Warren did his invocation Bush was still president... Perhaps the last gasp of the desperate?

Who knows.

Stella said...

Warren was the weak link in an otherwise wonderful inauguration. I agree with Everything Fran I Am said. He's definitely a hatemonger, which made him look all the weaker in the context of an event of hope, change, and inclusion.

Sewmouse said...

Who gives the invocation/benediction/poem/song at the inauguration is a petty thing compared to issues like Gay Marriage and other issues that affect 1000's of people on a daily basis. That 5 minutes of religious posturing is over - and won't happen again.

When you have teenagers, you learn to Pick Your Battles. This one shouldn't even have been a battle. Had no-one complained, he would have done his schtick and been summarily forgotten.

Rev. Warren may have a pulpit, but WE have the internet. The guy is a pompous blowhard, much like my brother SPTLM. By acknowledging his agenda we give it far more importance than it should ever receive. Let him fade into the background noise like Rev. Phelps (who's only "congregation" is his immediate family)

Stella said...

Who has seen this video? Conservatives also have the internet. I'm with MaryEllen, WeezieLou, and Fran ("This isn't a Clint Eastwood movie.")

Pursey Tuttweiler said...

I do not agree in this type of inclusiveness. The most monumental change in our country's history in my lifetime was sullied by the voice of a crackpot hate monger. I know, I am violating the principle of AA and the harmonious feelings of people like you Diva, who believe in inclusiveness, but I feel strongly about not including those who spread hatred and want to "cure" homosexuals. Pastor Rick will not let homosexuals join his church. I love Barack Obama, and I know that evangelicals voted for him and he wanted to show his gratitude, by a pastor with a reputation for inclusiveness would have been a better choice than a man who has hatred in his heart for a large part of our society. Towards the end he pulled the some of my best friends are gay bullshit, but really, he was just pandering. His prayer sounded like the huckster he is and I cannot accept him.

Spadoman said...

I only want to comment on the first paragraph of this post. The character, Walter Kowalsky, played by Clint Eastwood in the movie "Gran Torino" may have acted like a racist. On the face of it, this was the way it was seen, but I felt differently. Walter was confused, and so was the matriarch of the family next door. Viwed as hate was misunderstanding of another culture. Confusion about the changing social and ethnic landscape of a neighborhood that had been so stable as 'blue collar' for so many years.

As the movie played out, Eastwood showed that the man was fully capable of open mindedness, also a trait of AA by the way, and learned about his new environment with acceptance. He didn't have to change his own make up to defend the younger Hmong girl when he witnessed her being wronged. Hatred and racism would have a person ignore that situation.

Fear is the reason. Fear of the unknown. Fear of change, and the constant barrage of his mind haunting him and keeping him from living since Korea. Reliving his sins every day and suffering through the pain of it.

On the meaty subject matter, I'll say the Serenity Prayer. I didn't say it, and I can't control what he said and who asked him to speak. I won't try to change it as my wisdom tells me I can't.

Peace to all.

By the way, nice to see you here, Jood. And you keep such great company. Hi Clutch, Fran. And Sewmouse, it's been so long.

Frederick said...

That's a very good observation, Spadoman...goes hand in hand with this; Conservatives’ Bizarre Readings of Gran Torino.

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