Saturday, December 20, 2008

Andrew Sullivan on Rick Warren

Andrew Sullivan has some additional thoughts about the controversy over Rick Warren's role at the Inauguration from the perspective of Christian gay man. He writes in "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.

Read the rest at the The Daily Dish at The Atlantic. Sullivan also shared this post from one of his readers:

All the interpretations of the Warren pick I've read are that he's practicing business as usual, triangulation, appeasing the far-right religious nutters, bashing the gays, and on and on. As a 54-year-old woman, I was fortunate to be born into an era in which the great strides in gender equality were already won by the hard work of our mothers and grandmothers. Yet, I've endured crude misogyny, and have learned that I'm probably not in a small minority.

I run my own successful design business, but spent many early years in work situations where I was the only woman in an all-male shop. The one lesson I learned right off the bat is that equality and acceptance in one's day-to-day life can only be won on the individual level. We all need laws to insure our rights when they are threatened, but one cannot change a closed or bigoted mind by writing an article, or passing laws, or protesting in outrage, or marginalizing the haters, or calling them names, or turning one's back in outrage. The only way to change a mind is to change a heart, and the only way to do that is to open oneself to the other person and slowly slowly allow them to learn that you are not "other," you are not frightening, you are not immoral.

You are just like them. I'm not saying it changes every mind, but every mind that has been changed, has been changed at the personal level by getting to know an individual from the group they fear or despise.

I suspect Barack Obama is exquisitely aware of this from his own life of otherness and assimilation. Has anyone considered that perhaps he chose Rick Warren, not as a maneuver for his own political gain, but rather as a way of keeping Warren close and engaged in order to change HIS heart, therefore changing his mind. Imagine the influence of a Rick Warren telling his followers that he wrong about gays, that they are really OK and just like them? It's an amazing thought, and perhaps improbable, but who would know unless it's tried? I think this is where Obama is coming from, and I, for one, am eager to see just how it will all play out in the ensuing years.
The Daily Dish

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