Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Viewing Rick Warren at the 30,000 Foot Level

I heard Sophia Nelson's viewpoint on Rick Warren last night on NPR and found it refreshing. It's how I felt before I spent too much time listening to Rick Warren's callous words about gay people. But in the end she's right. Obama's right. Nelson, by the way, has been a republican strategist for quite a while. If more republicans were like her, I might be a republican. 

Check out what she had to say about the ugly song that's all the rage within the republican party right now. Here is what she had to say about Warren: 
Political Intersection: The choice of Rick Warren is shrewd and bold, and exactly what the nation needs to see modeled in our leaders. Not just "tolerance" of other's views (I so hate that word)--but acceptance and respect of each other's differences and ideologies and why we see the world so differently at times. This is what I like most in Obama--he likes people--he likes to engage them--he is a thinker--he is unafraid to reach beyond the pail of what is "supposed to be" acceptable or politically correct.

To my friends on the right I say give this young President a chance--he may surprise you. To my friends on the left I say, open your hearts and listen, just as you wish to be listened to by others. Stop the name calling, the attacks on Pastor Warren and instead see if you can sit with him, engage him, pray with him and at least agree to disagree agreeably. Find out the genesis of why he feels as he does about Gay Americans--and make sure he hears from your side with civility and passion just the same.

It is time for this nation to heal because this nation is headed for very hard economic times. You may have to feed your Gay neighbor, or borrow some milk from the right wing evangelicals down the street. The black brother will have to help his white brother, and the Hispanic brother may have to employ his black brother. The point is, we need to come together not just in word but in deed. This is a good way to start that process at a 30,000 ft level.
I also recently re-read a Rolling Stone interview from a while back where Obama talked about gay marriage and that too, was refreshing. He said that for many, gay marriage is a culture shock (see Joseph Lowery, who's giving the benediction, talk about this) and it's not something that can be shoved down people's throats.

There is a learning curve and there are steps to take.

For those of us who have an intuitive sense of what constitutes a civil right or who are more accepting, or who live and work around a lot of gay people, people who oppose gay marriage can be hard to handle because when they speak their mind, it often comes out as hate. As they're pushed, they become more forceful in spewing hate. They have no other way of handling it because they don't know any better. For now.

But if more people can be included in the process, if there can be a meeting of the minds from both ends of the spectrum, perhaps, one day even Rick Warren might see things differently. He might be sitting on Oprah's couch explaining how God sent him his epiphany. Who knows?
Here's that passage from RS:
In Dreams From My Father, you recount the bigotry your parents faced because of interracial marriage, which was illegal then. What is the difference between that and the current bans on gay marriage?
Well, I'm always careful not to draw easy equivalents between groups, because then you start getting into a contest about victimization or who has been discriminated against more. What I'll say is that I am a strong believer in civil unions that would provide all the federal rights under federal law that a marriage contract would provide to people. I think that the country is still working through the idea of same-sex marriage and its entanglement, historically, with religious beliefs.

My sense is that a consensus has already established itself that when it comes to hospital visitation, the ability to pass on benefits like Social Security, that people shouldn't be discriminated against, everyone should be treated equally. I think that is a starting point — that consensus is what will grow over time. If you want to use the analogy of the civil rights movement, Dr. King and others didn't lead with assaults on anti-miscegenation laws. They focused on voting rights and civil rights. Once those rights were secured, the culture shifts.