« Writing | Main | Upgrading to Movable Type 4 »

Two views on Rick Warren


David Quigg of HuffPost has (imo) a pretty sensible discussion of the Rick Warren matter. His "what would Obama do" conceit for the column made me roll my eyes a little, but digging past that, there's some good stuff there. Discussion of Obama's pragmatism, of making allies, of the question of how feasible it is to "bridge some of our fundamental differences," of Saul Alinsky's book Rules for Radicals and Obama's own book The Audacity of Hope. There's some good nuance, and some difficult questions, but the piece ends by noting that Rick Warren is really not the central issue; if we want marriage equality, we've got better things to do than get distracted by the Rick Warren issue. I'm inclined to agree.

But then again, an unsigned opinion piece in the Chicago Sun-Times takes the opposite tack; it essentially says that Warren is bad in a variety of ways, not just on the same-sex marriage issue, and we shouldn't be cutting anyone any slack here.

I guess my overall feeling about this thing is that Obama has been saying all along that he wants to work with conservatives as well as liberals. He can either follow through on that--which will inevitably mean annoying some of us liberals at least some of the time--or he can reject it, bringing down criticism to the effect that he's engaged in politics-as-usual.

I suspect that I'm not the only liberal who loves the idea of reaching across party lines to work together but also wants the results to end up being liberal results. Let's all work together, to accomplish my goals!

Anyway. There are lots of difficult questions around the Rick Warren thing, and seeing Milk recently has only made me even more ambivalent about what the right path is. But I do agree with Quigg that we have more important things to focus on than Warren. But perhaps, as a nonbeliever, I'm naively underestimating the symbolic and metaphorical power of the inaugural invocation.


I'll repeat here what I've been on about elsewhere, that for Barack Obama to win any significant political points for pissing off the liberals, the liberals can't just shrug and say whatever. If this is a cynical move to burnish his post-partisan cred, the more those of us who are outraged express our outrage, the better for him. And if it's just that Barack Obama doesn't get that Rick Warren uses his pulpit to argue for political positions that I find outrageous, then the more those of us who are outraged express our outrage, the better for him and for all of us.

Also—I suspect that I'm not the only liberal who loves the idea of reaching across party lines to work together but also wants the results to end up being liberal results—exactly! And if I can elaborate… people are different, one to another, and that's what makes the world interesting and fun, but it also means that people disagree with one another, and that any bipartisanship, compromise, coalition-building, whatever, is going to have to take into account that (f'r'ex) either gay marriage is going to be legal, or it is going to be illegal, and that somebody is going to get a policy they don't want. We can either attack Iran (to pick another of the pastor's positions) or not attack them, and I think it would be nice to be clear which policy Our Incoming President prefers.


Just got a chance to look at your past week's worth of entries, and discovered that you wrote about Warren last week; I'd have linked to that in the entry here if I'd seen it earlier. Sorry about that.

Re the final line of your comment here: on the same-sex marriage issue, we do know what policy Obama prefers, more or less: (1) civil unions, not marriage; but (2) if already in place (as in CA), marriage shouldn't be taken away. (Which kinda sounds like States' Rights to me, but may be more nuanced than that.) So we know that he differs from Warren on this point, sorta kinda. On the other hand, we've also seen that Obama wasn't willing to expend significant political capital on forcefully opposing Prop 8 (I don't blame him; it could have cost him the election), and my impression is that his approach to eliminating DADT will be a slow and careful one. So I sorta feel like we know where Obama stands on queer issues--he's in favor of gay rights, but not so much in favor of them that he'll let that support get in the way of his pragmatic approach to achieving various other goals. And from a practical standpoint, I think that may be a useful and effective approach for the long term.

(Then again, I'm speaking as someone who felt outraged and betrayed by the promises to the gay community that Bill Clinton broke (or so it seemed to me at the time); ever since, this has been an area that I've been particularly cynical about wrt politicians. Perhaps more cynical than is really called for.)

I didn't mean to sound snarky about you not linking to me, I was just claiming the (fallacious) authority that my argument predated your observation.

As for whether Barack Obama's approach will be useful and effective... I don't have much confidence in it, but (it seems to me) one thing that will increase its usefulness and effectiveness is for folks like me (at least in the sense that I am a heterosexual married suburban homeowner raising kids and working at a job) to complain about that approach as being insufficient. Which my gut tells me it is, anyway, although of course Barack Obama's gut seems to know much more about politics than mine.


Post a comment