Personal Beef

Facebook-land is an interesting place. Most of the time, it is fairly inane, especially with the apps that are designed to distract people from their work. There’s tons of statuses and other kinds of feeds that go on all day. Most of the time, my timeline of statuses, links, and other news seems to go largely unnoticed. However, some of my items related to Rick Warren have provoked responses from some people on my network.

I joined a Facebook discussion group No Rick Warren at Obama Inauguration and I got a response was from a good friend of mine, an evangelical Christian, who wondered what my personal beef was with Rick Warren. To his credit, he and his wife took some flack from people they knew for voting for Obama and voting against Props 4 & 8. I sent him a response saying we can agree to disagree and these were my reasons:

I’m not at ease with Warren’s gentler rhetoric about GLBT issues. He certainly showed his loved towards “sinners, not the sin” with support for Prop 8.

If Obama was insistent on getting an evangelical pastor for this invocation, couldn’t he have gotten Brian McLaren?

Thankfully, a unifying opinion on Warren is not the basis for our friendship (which would be in trouble if it were). There is room to talk about him and the issues he represents.

Given that, I don’t have a soft opinion on Warren right now. I think it’s great that Melissa Etheridge is having a dialogue with Rick Warren. She is someone who has a lot at stake with this whole Prop 8 issue, so she’s a better person than I can be right now. I’m just not there.

I haven’t been a good gay blogger by editorializing on how Rick Warren is so innapropriate for Obama’s inauguration (which is my opinion). All I’ve been doing was doing things here and there on the Facebook feed such as joining that group and posting links to a Rachel Maddow commentary and an SF Gate editorial appropriately entitled The Purpose-driven Bigot. That, and I posted a tweet on Twitter. Given that people seem to pay more attention to my Facebook feed than my blog, I was asking for it.

I’m not going to post the message in its entirety. I’m only going to give a brief summary of a message I got from someone else and try to answer it.

  1. The media coverage of Rick Warren and what he said is wrong.
  2. I’m calling someone a bigot based on inaccurate reporting.
  3. I know nothing about Rick Warren.
  4. I should read his book or attend a few services to form a fair and balanced opinion of him.

The media coverage of Rick Warren and what he said is wrong.
This guy just loves to talk and talk and talk, so he provides a lot of the ammo for the media, whether it’s kooky creationist spiels or his candy coated rhetoric on the gay issue. It’s great he does stand for some social justice issues, but he has become an accomplice to some injustices such as his 11th hour endorsement of Prop 8:

I’m calling someone a bigot based on inaccurate reporting.
This cliché is still pretty useful: If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck, it is a duck. Likewise, if is someone walks like a bigot and talks like a bigot, they are a bigot. Many conservative fundamentalist activists, such as James Dobson, have taken on a harsh, aggressive tone to their homophobia. While he is not as severe as Fred Phelps, Dobson is actively engaged in a culture war where gays are one of many enemies, but important enough to garner significant attention. The harshness of his rhetoric shows through his psychobabble. Warren’s trickier because he sugarcoats his rhetoric and he uses the language of reconciliation. Even though he comes across as more enlightened than Dobson, he holds very similar views.

I know nothing about Rick Warren.
Touché. Given that, he is a public figure with significant amount of media attention prior to this whole Obama fiasco. There have been numerous articles, blog entries, YouTube excerpts of his sermons, and even a lovely Wikipedia entry I can glean to get information about him. I can also go directly to his website and see how he and his webmaster like to portray the Rick Warren persona. Oh, I think Ricky Gervais would make a perfect Rick Warren if Hollywood ever decides to do a biopic.

I should read his book or attend a few services to form a fair and balanced opinion of him.
Those are some excellent suggestions. While it may be this person’s hope that my mind would be changed by reading Warren’s work or hearing his sermons, the opposite effect could happen. I could wind up gaining first hand, concrete evidence for Warren’s positions that I find abhorrent. In all honesty, I don’t want to spend money to get the book. If I could check it out from the public library or borrow a friend’s copy, I might consider it. There’s also the issue of time, and I’d much rather spend that time reading something else. As for the sermons, driving outside of San Diego county just to hear him speak is a terrible waste of gas and travel time. I’ve been there, done that with the mega-churches and I don’t want to go there again.

Yes, Warren is nice to gay people. Despite some unsavory opinions, he’s happy to have dinners with them and dialogue with them. This is good, but he doesn’t really feel it’s right to be gay, even in commited relationships. He is like those who first condemn gays for fucking around and not being capable of committed relationships while cutting off the means for them to cultivate meaningful, stable unions. One thing that I don’t care for is that Warren is a proponent of ex-gay ministries. He and Saddleback welcomes gays, but only on his terms. Hopefully, Melissa Etheridge and some others could get him to reconsider, but I don’t know…

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