Monday, January 19, 2009
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.
Posted by vikkitikkitavi at 12:53 PM