I guess the Obama people must feel like they got what they wanted out of the Rick Warren invocation, but from my vantage point it was a wooden and erratic address. Outside of the parts where he was quoting Scripture, it was hard to even understand his point half the time. When he started rambling about how God was "compassionate and merciful to everyone... and you are loving to everyone" it didn't even seem like it was written or thought out at all, despite the fact that he read the whole thing without making eye contact with the crowd. He looked hurried and rattled, and I have to think that the mass outcry against his appearance had to play a part in that. Either that or he's a star on a small stage who didn't translate to the step up in class.
For comparison's sake, check out the amazing work of the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who spoke of justice and charity and aid for the least among us. I'd say it was no contest.
And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.
And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.
Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little, angelic Sasha and Malia.
We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.
Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right.
Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.
The point that those who Digby refers to as the Religion Industrial Complex want to avoid is that there's no need to reinvent the liberal relationship to faith. It already exists in the application of many religious teachings, in the notions of peace and justice and equality and tolerance, and in the common effort seen in the civil rights and the global peace movements. The religious right has hijacked these principles for the purposes of authoritarian extremism, and what is sometimes depicted as the "religious left" would rather accommodate those extremist views. It's a false choice.
And it didn't hurt to here a little nod to non-believers up on that platform today. For a second I actually thought I lived in a country where church and state were separate. Not bad.