The Rick Warren Choice

Similar to many on the left (whatever "left" means), I was initially shocked to hear that Barack selected Rick Warren to preside over the invocation. But unlike many, I didn't follow that surprise with an explosive response (I know, very unlike me). Over the course of two years, there have been countless times when I wanted to pounce on Obama, but almost every time, whatever decision he made or course he charted, I ended up thinking and ultimately understanding. He's a man of immense intelligence and forethought. Knowing this, I decided to let this one play out.

But I have come to a conclusion that's been rare in my living room tv/internet/paper interactions with our president-elect. My issue with the Rick Warren selection doesn't necessarily have to do with Warren's views on homosexuality and other social issues which I clearly disagree with (similar to Obama). Why I'm disappointed with this selection is Obama's move to assuage the conservative right instead of selecting a religious figure with less "mass appeal", but one with major accomplishments in the community and with people in need. I will admit, I don't know much about Warren's work in the Church, but I do know that he falls into that camp of celebrity evangelical leaders that I have grown to disdain.

For some reason that I still don't quite comprehend, I attended not one, but two Jesuit Universities. Over the course of four years, despite not following any organized religion myself, I was incredibly influenced by some of the religious leaders at these schools. Yes, I always questioned, but at times, when I let my guard down, I was opened to a world that I'd been uncomfortable with my entire life. I grew to realize that the majority of folks who live their lives through religion due so for the right reasons. They are not interested in fame or glorification, but rather seek to help those less fortunate, provide hope to the hopeless and bring people together in a common cause.

And this is exactly why I'm disappointed with the Warren choice. Yes, he's brought together what I can only surmise are millions of people. But he's needed to do so in the limelight in a more aggressive and showy way than Cardinals or even the Pope. Similar to Falwell and the fools you see on Sunday Morning tv, there's something that comes across as incredibly fraudulent about these people. I'm certain that some, perhaps even Warren, are genuine in their work, but there are thousands leading quieter yet more influential and compassionate roles in the Church. And it's these people that I wish Barack had turned to.