Monday, January 19, 2009

Come on up

Okay, folks, here's the thing about Rick Warren, and shit like that.

I've been mulling this over for a while, and here's my conclusion: it's brilliant.

I know, I've read all the hateful stuff, and believe me, I find him plenty abhorrent. On top of that, I think the whole fallacy behind his mega-seller "The Purpose-Driven Life" is just hooey. The first sentence of the book is, "It's not about you." Now, while I applaud any effort to push Americans into being less selfish, I think it's wrong to tell people that the way out of their self-centered hell is to live for God. I think everyone would be better off if they acknowledged that there is no God, and to learn that to think about others, and to put others before yourself sometimes, and to act charitably, and yes, even to work toward a government that "spreads the wealth around" are things you ultimately do for yourself. Undoubtably there is a moral imperative at work, in that society cannot advance if we don't all care about the collective good, but also, look, if doing all those things I just listed made me feel bad, or even indifferent, I'm not sure I'd bother either. But they don't. They make me feel great about myself, and I don't mean in an "I'm so fucking cool" way, I mean that when I do something good for someone other than myself, it makes me feel good to think about it. Like when you find the perfect present for someone, and you can't stop thinking about giving it to them. It's a great feeling. I mean, there's nothing better, right?

And goddammit man, but Spooney's smile is hard-wired into my pleasure center. Sometimes I manage to express to Spooney how I feel about him in a way that makes his whole face light up like he's a little kid. In that moment, he looks at me like he's never had a bad day, like he's never lost someone he loves, like he's never been betrayed or disappointed or made to feel small. I live for that. I wish I could do it every day. And holy fucking shit, readers, I want that for everybody.

The trouble with living to serve God, is that people tend to start to believe that they have a personal relationship with the Almighty, and in the absence of actual tangible input from Him, which is, let us just remind ourselves, impossible, they start to attribute their own motivations and prejudices to God, and believe that their own ignorant douchehat opinions are shared by a being capable of creating the entire universe from fuck all. The next thing you know, they're on television proclaiming that God wanted 1500 citizens to drown in their living rooms because of the way some people like to configure their sexual organs.

So why then is picking Warren brilliant?

Because, to denounce him is counter-productive. This guy is very very very fucking popular with a lot of genuinely decent people, no matter what I think of him. Why not let those people know that they have a voice? Why not let them know that they have a place at the table? If Obama comes into the White House liberal guns blazing and no room for compromise, he'll get one or two things done off the bat, but then he'll find himself cock-blocked and vilified until the end of his term, or terms, if he even gets another one. He's got to draw the other side toward the middle, and to do that he must step toward the middle himself, or he's got no chance to stay relevant. Is it what I would do? No. But then, I'm not president. I'm an asshole who presumes to tell people that god does not exist. I do not have my finger on the pulse of America.

And it's not like Obama didn't tell us that he was going to do this. I think he mentioned more than once that he was pretty interested in bringing the divergent sides of this country together. No red states or blue states but United States, remember? And what we're working toward is something better than what we have now, okay? Can we all just agree that to make things better must sometimes be enough?

And if you think back to when Bush first ran, what was one of the reasons why so many centrists felt comfortable voting for him? Because he promised to govern from the center, and to draw both sides toward that point. Did he do that? No. Did he ever have any intention of doing that, 9/11 or no? No. You don't pick Dick Cheney as your veep if you have any intention of doing that, obviously. So he lied to us. Deliberately. And it's one of the things I hate most about him. Do you want people on the right to feel about Obama the way we all feel about Bush? Do you want Obama's climate change initiative to stall in Congress? Do you want his health care plan to die in committee? Do you want him be blamed for this economic mess the way Carter was blamed for Nixon's?

Or do you want to get shit done?

I'll admit that I've been feeling pretty hopeless recently. My own economic troubles have seemed to mirror the nation's, and I feel like the time I have left on this earth to do what needs to be done is slipping away, fast. Even the thought of an Obama presidency hasn't buoyed my spirits much.

But then, I was watching the concert on the mall in D.C. yesterday, and you know that I am a stone cold sucker for elevated rhetoric. And when Bruce Springsteen sang "The Rising," and the choir behind him was singing the words "a dream of life," and the camera zoomed in over their heads to the stone visage of my beloved martyr Lincoln, who believed more than anyone ever has, or could ever hope to, that our dreams for this nation shall not perish from the earth...well dear readers, I am only slightly ashamed to admit that tears streamed down my face and that everything changed in an instant.

I've still lost much, I've still been betrayed and disrespected and made to feel as if I were the one in the wrong. But maybe I'm starting now to get the hope thing. Just a little bit.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Holy jeebus woman, I just fell deeper in love with you after reading this post.

SkylersDad said...

I wish for prosperity for you Vikki, and for the feeling of good to wash over you soon. You have done good on this planet, just look at the amount of people you have touched electronically out here.

Jess said...

I'm so glad Spooney found you, Vikki.

I'm either pre-menstrual or that was one hell of a moving post. And I'm not pre-menstrual.

Some Guy said...

More of your usual awesomeness.

I read a post elsewhere today that was pretty much the opposite of yours. It was pretty angry and justifiably so. The thing is I could relate to both yours and his.

On the one hand, I'm fucking pissed that he elevated Warren in any way given the hateful things he's said. I'm not sure I'm as ready as you to call it brilliant. But I also so badly want to feel good about my government. I want to be optimistic for a change. The last eight years have taken their toll as we all know. I believe that Obama knows in his heart what is right in terms of gay marriage and Prop 8. The question is whether he has the balls to stand up and say politically dangerous things to try and change people's minds and show them that treating people fairly and equally is in the best interest of everyone.

And of course all that stuff you said about religion and doing nice things for people and love were all dead-on as usual.

Doc said...

"I do not have my finger on the pulse of America."

Well where do you put your finger?

Great post, as always, and it's good to hear you've got a little hope. I hear it's catching.


Dad E said...

This is really good Vikki! I think Bush has left many of us thinking that having hope was our only thing available for us. Now is a new day and I think Obama can inspire a can-do attitude that used to be there. But uniting the country will always be the key. Its what we need the most. I am anxious to see how this Rick Warren thing plays out. Its a bold move.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Dr.MVM: Thanks!

SkyDad: I can't believe the king of double entendres would even say such a thing.

Jess: You're just a big softie, is all, and I've never gotten props from an ex-wife before. That's pretty fucking cool.

SomeG: I remember the anger. I remember it very well from 1992. It was a huge part of what destroyed Clinton's ability to be effective prior to the explosion of the adultery scandal. Look, I'm not saying that people shouldn't protest and push for their agendas, I'm just saying that if you take every conciliatory move your president makes as a personal act of treason, then you really shouldn't follow politics, because you don't understand politics.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Doc: My fingers are usually in my ears. Its a necessary survival tactic when you grow up around Republicans.

DadE: I agree that it is bold. We'll see if it ends up being worth it.

SFNative said...

This post is superb. I really can't say enough.

You give me hope for the people I've ended up living next to and, by extension, the country as a whole.

Thanks so much for your insight.

I wrote "the country as a hole" back there.

It's not a typo. It's a thinko.

CiscoKid said...

That's the great thing about this new administration, it fills us with hope, no matter what happens tomorrow, one or four years from now, it is that hope that collectively will make things better. "Hopefully"

mary catherine said...

oh vikki. brils as usual--but even more so than usual :) i also felt like the rick warren pick was weirdly brilliant for all the reasons you said. he's doing what he said IN THE LIGHT OF DAY and giving everyone a voice in this feast of symbolic moments. it was important.

and what a lovely thing for spooney :) YOU are lovely.

(and thanks for the art props last post :)

Spooney said...

Ah, made me get weepy at work. I love you.

...and I'm glad that the ex-wife approves :)

RandyLuvsPaiste said...

I can't stop fartin' around with obamiconme.

vikkitikkitavi said...

SFNat: Thanks, and hey, if I could stand Indiana for 13 years, you can stand it for a few.

vikkitikkitavi said...

CiscoK: You just reminded me that the actual meaning of the word "hopeful" is "full of things that inspire hope."

MC: I like that phrase: feast of symbolic moments. That's certainly what they strive for. Sometimes, they succeed.

Spooney, weepy? And I missed it. Damn.

Randy: Farting around? UR doin it rong.

Johnny Yen said...

Regarding Rick Warren-- I think Obama listened to Michael Corleone (who learned from his father) "He taught me to keep my friends close and my enemies closer."

I had a doctor's appointment, so had to miss the swearing in, but taped it. As I watched the tape, Obama and Biden walked Bush to the helicopter. The cynic in me said that they were watching to make sure he actually got his ass out of town.

Anonymous said...

I was underwhelmed by Warren's invocation, to say the least. Didn't he realize he was supposed to bring his A game? Or was that his A game?

Dad E said...

Finally we found something Bush did well. Leaving!

vikkitikkitavi said...

JY: I read that as the helicopter flew over the crowd, some started singing, loud enough to be heard by reporters, "na na na nah, na na na nah, hey hey hey, goodbye."

Kirby: I'm afraid that was A. He is not an especially strong speaker. His success is mostly in his book and the merchandising of his book.

DadE: Is it wrong that I wanted him to bump his head on the helicopter one more time?

Grant Miller said...

You use the term "genuinely decent" far too loosely.

bubbles said...

What a wonderful day we had today. It was wonderful, and I agree with you that his choice was a smart move.

I have hope. I was really worried at a couple of moments during the election, but I have hope.

Your relationship with Spooney is a beautiful thing. That also gives me hope (at least momentarily). So thanks for that.

David said...

My oldest daughter, a staunch Republican, was there on the Mall today. Talk about hope...

vikkitikkitavi said...

Grant: Hey, that's my mom you're talking about.

Bubbles: And on top of it all, Warren managed to be totally forgettable. Whee.

David: You raised a Republican? How very "Family Ties" of you.

SFNative said...

I've been here 11 already.

I figured the desire to hurt myself would subside after a while. I've actually moved up to wanting to hack off limbs.