Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Friday, December 19, 2008

Warren at the Inauguration

When I first heard that Pastor Rick Warren will issue the invocation at Obama's inauguration, I felt the slap that many of those in my LGBT community felt. However, I didn't respond right away. I didn't sign the petition demanding Obama withdraw that choice. Instead, I chose to delay my reaction until I'd had time to cool off and give it some thought. I'm glad I did, because Rev. Joseph Lowery is giving the benediction. Here's where my thoughts took me:

From the Mirriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

"Invocation: a prayer of entreaty (as at the beginning of a service of worship)."

"Benediction: the invocation of a blessing ; especially
: the short blessing with which public worship is concluded."

So Pastor Rick, the gay-hater, will offer a prayer of entreaty at the beginning, and Dr. Lowery, the civil-rights icon, will offer the blessing on this administration.

Frankly, I think there's more power in blessing than in entreaty, so these folks were set in the right order.

I am also impressed with the courage that this choice demonstrates. I believe Mr. Obama knew what he was doing, and the reaction he would get, by choosing Warren. The LGBT community gave him significant support during the election, and I like to think we made a difference. I think Obama thinks we did, too.

Yet he is making a conscious choice to risk offending us, by welcoming the "other half" of America to his inauguration.

Contrast this to his predecessor, who never gave so much as a nod to those he doesn't like.

It seems to me that many in my community are calling for a simple changing of sides. We've been marginalized for the last eight years by the presidential administration, and now we want to marginalize the other side while getting some progress on our own issues. We want business as usual, just switching roles.

Obama is sending a clear signal that he wants to change the game. He is actually going beyond words to actions that show he is serious when he talks of uniting, rather than dividing. That he does see one America.

And the truth is, he needs both sides to have a truly successful administration. The crises this nation faces are a lot more serious than ENDA and marriage equality. Obama has reached out to the other side, and shown a willingness to listen to them.

I don't have to like it. I don't have to listen. If I were going to the Inauguration, I could stand and turn my back when Mr. Warren takes the microphone. I would seriously consider doing so, and I support anyone who does. But my situation is far different from that of the President of the United States.

And thank God, it looks like we're finally going to get an adult in the White House.


David Carrel said...

Great post Seda. I was quite shocked when I read that Rick Warren was going to be there. And I think it is like you said; Obama's intention was not to slap your community in the face at all. He wants to work together, which I applaud. I was impressed when he invited some Republicans to be on his staff (I think that happened) and I hope that he continues to get the right minds for all the right positions so that the country can get to where it should and can be.

Anonymous said...

I'm completely with ya on this one Seda. It definitely hurts a little bit, but we all know he's serious about uniting America. I'm for that. Thanks for putting this in words.

Chairm said...

Is it not a tad overkill to claim that Warren is "a gay hater"?

On what, precisely, did you base that name-calling, his support for Proposition 8?

Seda said...

Thanks, David & AJ. I just hope I'm right. Sounds like the right-wing is looking at it as an empty political gesture, and some are even angry at Warren for accepting, so, I don't know...

Perhaps so. Certainly it is excessively judgmental to imply that that is what he is. He may well hate gays at this time - he has equated homosexuality with incest, bestiality, and child abuse, and, when pressed on it, he affirmed that that was his intention. But I would like to grant him the ability to change his mind, or even the possibility of misunderstanding. I can't see into his heart. Maybe soon his nephew will come out to him, or something, and he'll actually get to know some of us. He's just human, just like us, with all the capacity to love and destroy we all have.

David Carrel said...

Yeah, us Christians are a little feisty. haha. We always get mad at something.
I kind of agree with Chairm about Warren being a gay hater. I really hope that I don't come across as a gay hater because I do not approve of the actions of gays. Contrary to most Christian's actions, I know, but we are called to love and to hate no one.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'll post as anonymous, since I don't have a blogger account.

Agreed, gay hater is over the top, which means, Seda, you've done exactly what I've heard so many in the gay and lesbian community deride--folks like me (believing in Christ, believing in sin) using inflammatory, hateful,hurtful language when talking about our differences. Why does Rick Warren's belief about gays totally negate anything else he believes, does, says?

I imagine there are topics on which you and Lowery would not agree--should those differences have kept him from accepting Obama's invitation?

Seda said...

I hear ya, David. Hence my next post. Merry Christmas to you!

I'll refer you also to my comment following Chairm's, and also to my next post. And also ask, is it okay, then, that Christians who believe in sin use "inflammatory, hateful,hurtful language" when talking about us? Please feel free to read and comment there, too.

Chairm said...

To be fair, you have said nothing that would justify your calling him a hater, Seda. Nor accusing him of hating "at this time". It is not about what may or may not be in his heart -- unknowing to you -- but it is about what he has said -- known to you. He did not express hatred.

As a Christian pastor, Warren has *morally equated* behaviors that are prohibited in the sexual ethics of Scripture.

Maybe Scripture is wrong, by your lights. But Warren is not wrong for having accurately represented Scripture.

See Gagnon, for one example of the extensive backup to the moral comparisons.

[I tried to add the URL to Gagnon, but it would not take. If you can advise me how to add it, I'll do so.]

I think it is highly presumptious to say that 1) Warren does not know same-sex attracted people and 2) if only he did he would suddenly agree with your opinion and disagree with Scripture.

From what I understand of Warren, he probably has been directly involved with AIDS/HIV carework (and related activities), as have I and my family and neighbours in our parish. We gained very intense relationships, not just with the afflicted but also with their friends and families. Christians are good people, on the whole, and we do not stand idle when vulnerable people suffer. Often it is a faith that shakes us to act. Sometimes we are moved by other forces. But not out of hatred, Seda.

I do not know why some people imagine that those who disagree with gay identity politics are completely ignorant of gay people, but it is a myth, and increasingly so.

Your comment is not generous; it is narrow-minded. I can empathize with your emotinal reaction to Warren's remarks -- and to Scripture for that matter -- however, namecalling, even in the backhanded way you just did in that comment, usually provides more heat than light.

Warren is a centralist on the very issues that you and I have discussed regarding protection equality for vulnerable families.

It is a shame that you'd take the default position that he is a hater. I think this reflects the negative peer pressure of identity politics exactly where agreement would otherwise be discovered.

Like I said, you might disagree with the sexual ethics that are clearly embedded in Scripture, or at the very least you may feel unfairly treated in these sexual ethics, but beyond revelation these ethics are based on sound principles that are accessible even to the irreligious amongst us.

Seda said...

To be fair, Chairm, I expressed my regret and admitted my error for doing so, not only in my previous comment to this post but also on a second post titled “Questions of Sex and Gender.” Nor is accusing the same as speculating. Warren’s equation of homosexuality with child abuse may not indicate hate, but neither does it indicate a lack thereof. As you say and I said, I can’t see into his heart. And if you want to see my views on Christians and Christianity, I recommend you peruse my archives. I have labeled posts on the subject. Look for the link to “Christians” under the “Labels” header in my sidebar.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our