Talk About Diversity
The politicos are all in an uproar today over Obama's selection of Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback Community Church) to lead the invocation at his inauguration. It would appear that folks think Warren shouldn't receive this "honor" because his socially conservative views on abortion, same-sex marriage, et.al. are DIFFERENT than those of the President-Elect. Apparently, I and other gays & lesbians are supposed to feel "spritually assualted" by this selection. If you've read this blog at all, you know how I feel about same-sex marriage, and I think abortion is a very difficult and complex issue. But I've also read some of Rick Warren's book, and he does have some good things to say - our differences on some issues notwithstanding.
Paint me red and call me a barn (I don't know that this quirky saying fits, but I think it's cute and wish to use it anyway), but in my younger days it was OK to be friends and have discussions with folks and agree to disagree. In fact, when I look back on any growth I have experienced in my life - intellectually or spiritually - it was from an outgrowth of wrestling with conflicting/DIFFERENT ideas. Rarely did I experience any growth or gain any sort of empathy with an opposing viewpoint by sitting around and listening only to those folks who agree with me.
Perhaps the selection of Warren is a political move on Obama's part to garner some support from the conservative right, but looking at his cabinet picks thus far, I don't think so. I think he understands that in order to make the best decisions for this country, he needs to surround himself with competent, experienced people, many of whom will not be afraid to disagree with him. I'm glad he isn't surrounding himself with "yes" men and women, but with those who are capable of standing up to the leader of the free world and saying "no, here's another perspective." And I think he plans to listen to them. At the end of the day, he may not agree with them, but he will hear them out.
I have some dear friends and family who don't agree with me on every subject, and they won't be surprised to learn that I don't always agree with them. That doesn't stop debate, and intellectual/spiritual discourse. Our failure to agree does not lessen my respect and/or love for them. Our discussions keep me grounded, my perspectives balanced, and my sensitivity to other perspectives open and thoughtful.
I don't agree with Rick Warren on a lot of issues. In fact, there are some that we downright would never come to agreement on. But I respect his convictions, I think he offers much good in what he says, and backs that up with a great deal of integrity (my understanding is he takes no profits from the sale of his book). I think God is big enough to love us both in spite of our differences. And I don't feel "spiritually assaulted" by his offering a prayer on behalf of our country at this momentous occasion. And maybe, just maybe, that is why the President-Elect selected him - as a lesson to us all that part of the "Change" he hopes to bring us is a renewed commitment to allow everyone in this country to be different without being damned.