I’ve finally dug myself out from under a massive pile of bluebooks and final papers, the inspiration for a Culture11 piece that should appear shortly. I’ve got one more pressing task, with a deadline tomorrow, but I couldn’t resist commenting on the news that Barack Obama has asked Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his Inauguration. Our friend Jordan J. Ballor summarizes the reaction, especially from the secular (and gay) Left, which is none to happy about the attention being given to a vocal opponent of Proposition 8.
I have three quick thoughts, beginning with an obvious one: Rick Warren couldn’t turn down the invitation.
If they’re political, as they doubtless are, Obama’s motives for issuing the invitation are twofold. One is not to repeat the "gays in the military" mistake that Bill Clinton made early in his first term. He’s signaling to this staunch Democratic constituency that they need him more than he needs them. A smart political move; it’s not like they’re going to run to the GOP. And there’s plenty of time to make nice before he has to raise money from them again (not to mention the fact that now’s not a good time to be raising money anyway).
Second, Obama is making a symbolic appeal to evangelicals. They’ve often had to be satisfied with symbolism from Republicans. Perhaps, he’s thinking, he can satisfy them in a similar way, using "respect" and lip service to peel a few more folks away from the GOP, some of whose members would like to see them gone anyway.
I may have some more thoughts on this later, but I must return to my more pressing task.