Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve - To Hope and Forgive

As many prepare
To celebrate on Christmas
Let's try to calm down.

We may hate Warren
But Obama may have reasons
To expose his views.

Firedog Lake's claiming
Obama's for Creationism
For picking Warren.

But Obama said
He would try to unite us;
Why are we surprised?

It's only a prayer
It's not a cabinet post
We have to forgive.


OK, that's as much haiku as I can make out of this issue. I am feeling as if, no matter the outrage that this choice has inspired, that we're losing sight of the forest for the trees. Obama is not pro-creationist just because he has Warren speak. He is not anti-gay either; and I'm sure he does not espouse the same attitudes as Warren about gay marriage.

And we have to remember that Warren's own supporters are giving him a hard time for accepting the offer as well. There is anger on both sides.

Perhaps Obama knew just what he was doing. E.J. Dionne discussed the issue in his column today.

"Although I support gay marriage, I think that liberals should welcome Obama's success in causing so much consternation on the right. On balance, inviting Warren opens more doors than it closes.

Warren has some decisions to make, too. He would do well to apologize for comparing gays to pedophiles, and also for comments...deriding mainline Protestants for not caring much 'about redemption, the cross, repentance.'

...And liberals need to understand what it means to build a durable majority. Doing so requires not just easy gestures but hard ones. Here's a prayer that by calling in his friend, Obama took a risk worth taking
."


As someone elected on a platform of hope and change, it is inevitable that Obama will disappoint many people on every side of every issue. No one can be all things to all people. In Obama's defense, he has never claimed to be anywhere near as left-wing as many of his own supporters (to say nothing of the right) have expected him to be.

Obama is a practical and shrewd politician. He is cerebral and does not govern by his "gut" the way George W. Bush loved to do. Being cerebral means contemplating many sides of issues and listening to other voices besides those that agree with his views. Isn't this what we wanted? Isn't this what we asked for after eight long years of ideological lock-step?

This is a man who believes "the perfect is the enemy of the good." He will no doubt compromise in order to find a "win-win" solution that at least accomplishes some of what he wants, while accommodating other factions who may not want the same goals at all. Not all of us will agree with some of these decisions. But we can only hope he does not go as far as Bill Clinton in this regard. We can only wait and see how it plays out when he actually becomes president.

I have never seen supporters of a candidate so quickly turn on him over one single choice that he has made before even becoming president. You can bet the Republicans wouldn't turn on their candidate so quickly. I know symbols are important. But he also chose a pro-gay-rights pastor to give the benediction. Why isn't that symbol also important?

I'm not saying that Obama shouldn't be criticized, and he does need to come out and reiterate that he disagrees vehemently with some of Warren's repugnant views.

And certainly in the coming months as he actually starts to make policy, I will hold his feet to the fire as much as anyone. But he isn't even president yet!

I was watching Keith Olbermann's end-of-year wrap-up the other night and he was showing the cheering crowds in Chicago when they announced Barack Obama had won the election. It made me sad to think that all those happy faces so soon had become cynical and disillusioned.

It also made me remember something Mr. Spock once said in one of my favorite Star Trek episodes:
"After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true."

The reason for this is, reality can never live up to our expectations. But to quote another great philosopher, Mick Jagger, remember:

"You can't always get what you want...but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."

In the spirit of the Christmas season, whether you are religious or not, let's try a little forgiveness. President-Elect Obama is going to need all of our help and support to get through the utter mess the Republicans have left this country. There will be time enough to criticize in 2009. Let's give it a rest right now and enjoy some holiday peace and hope.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.

17 comments:

DCup said...

Yes, Maui, I agree with you. A deep breath and a pause might help us all right now.

Tom Harper said...

That's a good point you make about the Right being angry at Warren for accepting Obama's invitation. Another blogger was saying that the rightwing fury at Warren might cause the wingnuts to become even more divided than they already are.

D.K. Raed said...

I agree with all you said. I don't know if we're in the minority or majority. I keep seeing so much hate directed towards a man who has not even taken office yet.

I think Obama saw an opportunity to reach out to the evangies. If Warren does not deliver a unifying invocation, then it is their own vileness that will be exposed. We know what Warren stands for, but does the rest of america?

As far as Obama being for creationism -- no way. He has selected real bonafide scientists to be on his team, not the phony dinosaur-riding jesus freaks.

Happy Holidays to the whole Maui Family, incl Diva & Baxter!

Fran said...

Obama would not be inclusive with the KKK for instance, Warren is a different version of hatred and divisiveness.
For heaven's sake, can't they appoint a committee to vet a minister who does not have so much baggage???

This should be one of the easier tasks.

Treating the gay community like 2nd class citizens is not change.

Find a more diverse and acceptable minister.

Christopher said...

Obama is wrong for inviting the antigay, anti-choice and pro-assassination Rick Warren to such a high profile event.

Obama fucked up -- period.

There are thousands of pro-gay religious figures he could've asked to perform the invocation.

I am not willing to forgive and forget. The days of politicians courting the time, energy, creativity and money of the LGBT community, only to throw us under the bus once they get into office, is over.

Unless Obama uninvites Rick Warren -- and I don't think he will because Obama is a tone deaf, pig headed, calculating, politician, then I will hold Obama at arms length for the remainder of his 4 years in office. Yeah, he's better than McCain and blah, blah, blah, but not by much.

In any event, Mauigirl, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours. Be safe, eat well, and stay warm.

Mauigirl said...

DCup, exactly. A deep breath and a pause - that's all I'm asking.

Tom, good point - this may make the right wing even less effective if they start squabbling among themselves.

D.K., thanks, I hope most people will give Obama the benefit of the doubt even if they don't agree with his choice.

Fran, I know what you mean - it would have been very easy to find someone harmless to give the invocation. But it wasn't a matter of vetting. I think this was Obama's choice for the reasons he has stated. My biggest concern is that Obama isn't seeing the comparison of Warren's attitudes with the KKK. I think he's being insensitive to the situation. I am hoping he will come to realize this.

Christopher, yes, it was the wrong choice. And I hope he realizes that. And no, I'm not saying forgive and forget - just forgive. Forgetting would mean not holding him to his promises. And that we must do.

I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday and enjoy time together with those you love.

Fran said...

Two things~

1- Try to see this choice through the eyes of a person who is denied over 1000 plus rights, including the ability to legally marry in the 21st century. The choice is a real slap in the face, coming from a civil rights champion. It's still not too late for Obama to change to a non offensive minister for the invocation.
Lots of people interpret the bible differently-- I am a big picture person. Do unto others, and Love one another are prevailing themes. Oh & that "judge not" clause. Find a minister that gets it.

2- Just wanted to wish you & yours a happy & healthy holiday season. We all have that spark of love & compassion & the ability to be positive influences in the world. Light a candle for hope & light & love!

Mauigirl said...

Fran, I absolutely do see it that way. I am not in any way trying to minimize the harm he has done by this choice.

I totally agree with the big picture of love and non-judgment that you are talking about. In fact, last night I went to church with my mother - to the church I was brought up in, the very non-judgmental liberal branch of the United Church of Christ. And all I could think was, why on earth didn't he pick someone from this church instead of Warren?

All I am saying is perhaps we need to be less judgmental of Obama ourselves until we see what he actually does. Warren? Terrible choice. Wish he hadn't done it. But he did and I don't think he will go back on it because that would make him seem like an idiot. So let's just see what happens after he is president.

And a happy and healthy holiday to you and yours, Fran! Let's hope 2009 is a better year for all of us!

FranIAm said...

I am not going to say much other than I am still having a HUGE problem with this.

I do not feel vitriolic about it, but it still feels so wrong.

Honestly, it is a bad way to build bridges - when you consider the harm someone like Warren does, looking affable but preaching hate.

I am a deeply committed Christian, although not at all evangelical, which should not come as shocking news to anyone who knows me, whether they like me or agree with me or not.

I am hugely in support of bridge building and reconciliation.

If that were the case Obama could have chosen from many other evangelicals who might get on my nerves but not offend me.

I guess I did not keep it short after all. This is Christmas, it is about peace. Warren does not seem to be about peace.

FranIAm said...

OK, I had to come back because after leaving here I went to An Inch At A Time the blog of a lesbian Espicopal priest, Susan Russell.

I was reading her Christmas sermon, which was not about Obama, but included this line, which seemed apropos.

It is a quote from St. Augustine of Hippo and says “Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.”

Anonymous said...

Dear Friends,

I wandered on to this site looking for things to do in Maui...guess I wandered, but let me say this...the anger, intolerance, incivility, and moral relativism (held to absolutely) is sad to see in these comments. Hardly what Christ ever desired and certainly what he came to redeem us from so many Christmas days ago. Could it be your anger and disappointment is with God himself? As a Christmas treat for yourself let me recommend some serious thinking for you if you would want to truly stretch your mind and open your heart...The Reason For God, by Tim Keller. It is a New York Times bestseller and he perhaps understands more than most what is going on in our polarized left/right world.

Merry Christmas

Mauigirl said...

FranIam, I love the quotation about Hope having two daughters - anger and courage. I think that is very a propos to this situation.

Anonymous, thanks for your comment. I'll check out the book you recommend to see what it's about.

libhom said...

Warren and his ministry work very hard to promote discrimination and violence against women and lgbt people. Putting Warren in the inauguration will give them more power and prestige while helping them raise more money.

This is really dangerous. People need to wake up.

Spartacus said...

Mauigirl... as much as I hate walking the fence on this, I feel like I'm being forced into it. Like some of your readers here, I am really disappointed in Obama's choice of Pastor Warren to give the invocation, but you're right, he's not the President yet. I will reserve judgment until such time that he's had an opportunity to effect change.

Besides equal rights and privileges to ALL Americans, I would like to see him come through on his promise to end the Iraq War. I'd like to see him change his position on Afghanistan. I'd like to see him reverse many of George Bush's Executive orders on the environment. Again, I agree. He's got much on his plate and he deserves an opportunity to do his thing.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday.

Mauigirl said...

Libhom, I'm hoping that Obama may be learning a lesson from this uproar, that there is a difference between "opposing opinions" about issues and just plain right and wrong. I put this in the same category as his comments about people clinging to guns and religion. He didn't realize the impact it would have. Some of this may just be due to inexperience. Considering how little experience Obama has actually had I think he's done an excellent job of the transition and 90% of his campaign. This is one of those things he may be wishing he hadn't done once the dust settles. I'm hoping so anyway.

Spartacus, I agree - I would like to see the reversal of a lot of things Bush did very shortly after Obama takes office, and many other things that he has promised, particularly in the area of civil rights for all. Then we all may feel better. Let's hope he doesn't back down from some of his promises once the rubber hits the road.

Frogette said...

MauiGirl - I think you're right. We need to let him at least get into office before we start sticking pins in him. Politicians make mistakes. Clinton made them. Let's wait to see what Obama does next.

Mauigirl said...

Thanks Frogette. I hope we are not disappointed by his actions once he is president. Because I really like having hope for a change.