Rick, My Alma Frater

Rick Warren and I went to the same seminary, so I guess that makes us alma fratris. Indeed, watching his inaugural prayer was not unlike visiting friends from my evangelical past, friends I still consider family. His demeanor and oratorical style were pure Southern California mega-pastor–though I recognize his pronunciation of “Malia and…SASHA!” was hilarious, it was a totally typical way for one of these guys to pray. Though a lot of people, especially here in demure Britain, probably found Warren a bit odd–and his theology off-putting–millions of Americans saw one of their own up there. A master stroke for Obama. (Lisa Miller in Newsweek provides the best analysis of the speech I’ve found).

If Obama can hold on to his own “progressive” convictions yet remain in a fruitful though tensive relation with the likes of Warren, then he has a chance to create some of the unity he promises. But if he vacilates either in his convictions or in his outreach efforts to conservatives, then he will be thrown to the wolves. From my perspective, a good, post-Warren step for Obama in demonstrating his commitment to “progressive” convictions would be to take some significant stand for gay rights. This can be a typically-Obama, moderating, coalition-building stand–but we need some evidence that he plans to fulfil his promise to “fight hard” as president for the 1,100 rights currently denied gay couples.



  1. 1
    xie Says:

    I think it was unfortunate that Obama’s people asked that the prayer of the gay bishop, Gene Robinson, not be televised on HBO. Definitely sends the wrong message.

  2. 2

    Yeah, what was up with that? I really wanted to see what he said.

  3. 3
    elcaballo Says:

    Here’s the text of Robinson’s prayer: http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/faith_and_politics/gene_robinsons_prayer_for_pres.html.

    My favorite parts are:

    Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah. [This should be shouted from the rooftops!]

    Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger. [Charity/love not just tolerance!]

  4. 4
    qualifiedcondition Says:

    I was in a plaza with about 3,000 other people when Warren’s prayer was, well, prayed and I think all 3,000 people laughed when he said “Sashaahhh.”
    For the last week, when I am faced with an uncomfortable silence I find myself whispering “Sashahhh.”
    When you see him at the alumni pot luck could you suggest that all evangamentalists ministers need to have an outsider friend to give input on rhetorical style, cadance, etc. before they go outside and talk to people who haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid. That fucker may have gotten my civil rights, but I want my nervous headspace back for Monty Python quotations.

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