There’s a wee small part of me that is feeling sorry for Rick Warren.
He’s such a bumbling twit.
I mean first he does his duty as he sees it and comes out for Prop. 8. This pisses off large numbers of people and destroys his image as Mr. Arms of Jesus. Committed to this image, he can’t hardline it and insist he’s doing God’s work so you guys go and pollute yourselves. So he insists he was misquoted. That doesn’t work, because The Flying Spaghetti Monster has given us YouTube and we can actually see he said the exact opposite of what he just said he said.
I’m not trying to generate sympathy for the guy. He doesn’t need any. He’s got fans galore. Plus he earns more money than God from his The Purpose Driven® Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (note the ®). And given how many people’s lives his naïve fundamentalist Christianity has messed up I’m not really inclined to give this sucker an even break, especially after he rolls out the red carpet for his Ugandan buddy and fellow pastor, Martin Ssempa, of condom-burning fame. That alone would earn him title of douche-nozzle extraordinaire. But he did, remember, finally distance himself from Ssempa. The question now is whether he can undo the harm he accomplished in his African mission. (See below for link.)
Watching him try to justify himself after the inauguration snafu and now watching him try to come across as a simple country preacher doing his best to do God’s work and backtracking on Uganda, I am persuaded the guy is sincere. Not the wiley sleazebag many consider him to be. Just not very savvy. He’s not a Jerry Falwell or a Pat Robertson (the truly pernicious) or a snake oil salesman like Jimmy Swaggert or Jim Bakker. He’s a little boy who loves knowing that Daddy in the Sky is taking care of him. You just have to do exactly and only what Daddy tells you to do.
But what do we do about the fact that the human race has not agreed on exactly what that might be?
The more unkind bible-thumpers have an easier time of it. They, like the pope, tell you this is the way it is, and die like a dog if you don’t believe me. But Warren, like other American right wing fundies who have gotten political, needs to soften the blow of truth to keep his numbers. And regain the mike again and again to insist his remarks have been taken out of context.
I went to an interesting talk at the Jesuit Center (the event had nothing to do with the Jesuits) on campus the other day by a Ph. D. in sociology who had just completed her dissertation on the parallels between this group of fundamentalists who want you to open the door to Jesus and not the door to your refrigerator (What would Jesus eat? Could Jesus have walked on water if he had been 300 lbs. overweight?) and the Exodus people (Jesus will cure your homosexuality). There are two big questions these people deal with. One is whether you have to actually lose weight or your homosexuality before God will love you. Warren is among those who believe you don’t. You come to God as a sinner.
But that leads to the second question: Are some sins worse than others? You have to say yes if you want to point fingers at others and legislate sinners' behavior, since you obviously cannot outlaw the really bad sins and pick the right sermon topics without consensus on what they are. But the only people seriously interested in these questions are the literalists, and they know the Bible also tells you God, not you, judges these things.
So this kind of puts you up a tree, doesn't it.
Someday Rick Warren may come to understand how offensive it is to have others define you as a lesser being. And then join together to pass legislation to make sure you lesser beings don’t try to pass yourselves off as equals because no matter what I say I really do think your sin is worse than my sin.
For now, he remains clueless.
Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster people are on to this guy. Max Blumenthal’s got it on the Daily Beast, and even NPR covered the story recently of his backtracking.
But the real hero of the story is Rachel Maddow. She has been following Rick Warren’s bumbling inconsistencies for some time. Currently she is trying to do what I’m trying to do – give credit where credit is due, and at the same time not be suckered into thinking all Warren’s past follies should be overlooked. The guy may be a pussy cat, but that pussy has a lion’s claws, and whether he uses them aggressively or affectionately, they still draw blood.
If you aren’t familiar with the reign of terror legislation in Uganda, by the way, please have a look. Although the latest news is that, like Rick Warren, the Ugandans and Senators Inhofe and Grassley (and you thought maybe there was no connection between fighting America's culture wars in Africa and health care reform?) are back-pedaling now too, it's worth seeing what transpired before world attention to this vicious homophobia forced them into retreat. The history of the story is sobering.
Did I tell you that Rachel Maddow RULES!!!?