I’ve been paying attention to the left’s reaction to Barack Obama’s choice of Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration in 3 weeks. For example:
William Fisher, Huffington Post: Rick Warren: What Was Obama Thinking?
But symbolism is important, and it’s especially important for this particular inauguration. Regardless of how he may try to nuance it, Rick Warren is part of the constituency that was courted and won over by George W. Bush. And it was the enthusiastic support of this constituency that played such a major role in W’s journey to the White House. We can dialogue with them from now till The Rapture, but many of their ideas will still be anathema to most of those who elected Barack Obama.
Mike Madden, Salon.com: How the hell did Rick Warren get inauguration tickets?
For more than two years, cozying up to Rick Warren has been one of Barack Obama’s favorite ways of showing evangelical Christians that he might not be so scary, after all — and for just as long, palling around with Obama every once in a while has been Warren’s way of trying to show more secular-minded people that he’s not so bad, either.
But I’m more persuaded that it was a good choice. For example:
David Weinberger on NPR: I’m A Lefty And I Like Obama’s Pick Of Rick Warren
But he’s getting us to do what seems impossible: to listen to what’s best in what the other side is saying, because then you hear the shared values, and the other side isn’t another side at all. That means you put Rick Warren up on the stage with you, because he disagrees with you. Yet he’s there celebrating the moment when a person becomes a president of all the people. To progressives, Rick Warren is a symbol of views they disagree with. To the rest of the country, Rick Warren is a symbol of “the purpose driven life” that he has written about, a life lived for something larger than yourself … a value liberals completely share.
Andrew Sullivan in the Atlantic: Taking Yes For An Answer
If I cannot pray with Rick Warren, I realize, then I am not worthy of being called a Christian. And if I cannot engage him, then I am not worthy of being called a writer. And if we cannot work with Obama to bridge these divides, none of us will be worthy of the great moral cause that this civil rights movement truly is.
The bitterness endures; the hurt doesn’t go away; the pain is real. But that is when we need to engage the most, to overcome our feelings to engage in the larger project, to understand that not all our opponents are driven by hate, even though that may be how their words impact us. To turn away from such dialogue is to fail ourselves, to fail our gay brothers and sisters in red state America, and to miss the possibility of the Obama moment.
It can be hard to take yes for an answer. But yes is what Obama is saying. And we should not let our pride or our pain get in the way