Barack Obama, Rick Warren and Dan Dennett for Thinking Parents

18 12 2008

Lynn at Bore Me to Tears is writing about Saddleback’s Rick Warren being tapped to do the official praying for America at Obama’s inauguration.

I found rival TED videos I’m watching and trying to connect this morning, first by author-pastor Rick Warren and then by philosopher and cognitive scientist Dan Dennett, refuting Warren’s best-selling book about humans and our “purpose” for being who we are, starting about 15 minutes into his talk and going great guns from there:

The key to our [human] domination of the planet is culture, and the key to culture is religion.

Bringing purpose to their lives is a wonderful goal and I give [Rick Warren] an A-plus on this . . .a fantastic achievement. . How does he do it?

. . .It’s been going on for thousands of years and he’s just the latest brilliant practitioner of it. . .Every time you read it or say it, you make another copy in your brain!

[Philosopher Dan Dennett calls for religion — all religion — to be taught in schools, so we can understand its nature as a natural phenomenon.] More about Dennett here.

Whose truth are we gonna listen to?

[Warren says] “Surrendered people follow God’s word even if it doesn’t make sense.”

. . .You don’t like my interpretation? Don’t listen, don’t listen, that’s the Devil speaking!

Dennett’s last line is particularly good imo: “I wish this meme would go extinct!”

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20 responses

18 12 2008
JJ

Sam writes about when it’s personal . . .

18 12 2008
JJ

Being a southerner born and bred and therefore well-versed in church speak as politics, the Power of Story in religion was the first thing I really paid attention to about Obama — back in the primary season even before he gave his big race speech that won me over, after the Rev. Wright feeding frenzy.

It is why I was wary, why I was relatively late to the party.

I remember concluding that Intelligence was using Religion to communicate with the masses but now I wonder anew, who is using who?

Politics as gospel makes me no less uneasy than prayer in school. Is this really what we have to look “forward” to — with all our supposed enlightenment and hard-fought economic and policy progress, is this going forward at all, spiritually, scientifically OR socially? It feels really backward to me . . .

18 12 2008
boremetotears

[Warren says] “Surrendered people follow God’s word even if it doesn’t make sense.”

I used to say, “Show me a Saddleback Christian and I’ll show you someone that’s capable of anything.” In fairness, some go just for the music, donuts, business contacts – and don’t take it seriously; others, however, are taking these messages to heart – and becoming monsters.

I also used to think of him as a “gateway drug” to the harder stuff. He teaches contempt for one’s own reason and conscience, but refuses to satisfy the [palate] with graphic, lurid descriptions of Hellfire and End Days scenarios (long-story-short: it turns off Sunday-morning seekers). For this reason, some people become frustrated, and actually leave his church in search of it elsewhere. He strips away the conscience, whets the appetite, primes people for God Knows What – then sends them out into our communities.

18 12 2008
JJ

Situational psychology then — Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment. Saddleback must be a vinegar barrel, maybe like the military mindset of breaking down inductees’ individual personality and judgment, the better to mold an efficient, reliable cadre of precision devotees to follow the institutional imperative en masse, rather than seek and question and deviate all over the place, all while oxymoronically claiming the higher purpose is to train them to be true to themselves, watch out for each other and be vigilant defenders of freedom.

18 12 2008
JJ

Or maybe Richard Florida would appeal to Obama more than Zimbardo? Even leaving religion out of it, he makes the same point about the dangers of mindless hierarchy defending status quo power structures and traditions, as bad business, bad government and bad for society —

“At the top is the need for leaders to foster an environment where members feel secure and confident to be creative. Florida’s argument is that it takes creativity to solve complex problems facing society or a business. The more people supplying creative suggestions, the better the solutions are likely to be.

Perhaps that’s intuitive, but just as intuitive is the traditional “chain of command” model in which the person at the top sets the direction and the people below do what they’re told.

The way to foster creativity … is to encourage everyone to have a voice, to feel comfortable offering their own quirky opinions, even the weirdoes, the nerds and those in the minority.

They’ll be encouraged as long as what he calls the “squelchers” are kept in check. These are the naysayers, the guardians of the status quo.

18 12 2008
sam

Thanks, JJ, for the link. Also thanks for helping talk sense about the issue, whether or not it does any good in the end.

18 12 2008
COD

I continually reassured my conservative friends that Obama would lead from the center, but this is a little too center for me.

18 12 2008
JJ

Sam, in the end, has anything really ever helped anything BESIDES talking sense about it? 🙂

Chris, I was thinking like you all morning. Then I heard an MSNBC segment with Warren, promoting Dateline tomorrow night, and then Obama answering liberal criticism by saying that he’s still a fierce supporter of gays and lesbians, and of issues like abortion rights, but that he wants a noisy mix of voices and views who don’t agree participating in the inauguration, and that civil rights lion Joseph Lowery for example, will also be speaking. He’s giving the benediction I think.

[EDIT to ADD — just read this at HuffPost: “One progressive pastor I spoke with on Wednesday, who was critical of the Warren selection, said she would have been fine had the two pastors merely switched spots in the program.” I don’t see how it’s better to close with Warren and be sent into the new administration with his charge upon us all; if it has to be one or the other, isn’t the announced order better, so Lowery can do that?]

Here is a five-minute video of HIM in Selma, Alabama, just to round out our collection. 🙂

His money line is, “we need more folks in this country who are GOOD-crazy!”

OTOH, black civil rights don’t always translate into gay civil rights, right?

So I dunno, still trying to fathom what all this really means, dare we hope that Obama’s as far-thinking and deviously smart about layers of story as I credit him with being, and so he’s put Warren in the invocation role to demonstrate that he belongs only there, behind a pulpit, and NOT in policy decisions or ballot initiatives? —

18 12 2008
JJ

Huff Poster reports that tomorrow night on Dateline, Pastor Rick will say:

I don’t hate gays, I gave them water and doughnuts!”

18 12 2008
JJ

Reportedly Whoopi on the View this morning, impatient with Warren’s invite to pray for the inaugural being given too much significance by all sides, said: “We did not put him in office to pick a preacher!”

*****************

And Whoopi has a point if you consider what I just saw in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s News Blog — when it comes to science policy at least, perhaps we’re finally escaping magic god power games at the federal level?

December 18, 2008
Obama Chooses Harvard Academic as Science Adviser

Washington — John P. Holdren, director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, is the likely choice as White House science adviser in the Obama administration, according to a report posted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Mr. Holdren, a professor of environmental policy, canceled a planned staff meeting today at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and instead flew to Chicago to meet with Obama transition officials and prepare for the announcement, the association’s ScienceInsider blog said, without identifying its sources.

President-elect Barack Obama, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is expected to announce his choice of Mr. Holdren as science adviser during his weekly radio address on Saturday, ScienceInsider reported.

Mr. Obama already has nominated the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu as energy secretary and named Carol M. Browner, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, to a new position in charge of coordinating energy issues.
—Paul Basken
Posted on Thursday December 18, 2008

19 12 2008
JJ

Wired link to his science advisers.

19 12 2008
JJ

Rick Warren is no moderate. He’s just as intolerant as the old pastor-politician-celebrities except cleaned up to look more presentable (and apparently as Lynn reports and he confirmed justifying himself, bearing doughnuts.) This thought reminded me of something Favorite Daughter had written, and she just helped me find it:

. . .he looked to me like intolerance looked in the 1950s –- someone had scrubbed it down and given it a presentable shirt, and cleaned up the foam around its mouth, but all the bile was still bubbling and teeming just below that surface, and you could see it if you looked directly in its eyes.

19 12 2008
JJ

Andrew Sullivan dishes out a thought!

Here’s an idea. A reader notes that one of the other Americans honored at Obama’s inaugural will be Itzhak Perlman, the great musician and violinist. Rick Warren compared one of Perlman’s daughters to someone practicing incest or pedophilia, and argued forcefully that her marriage be nullified.

Perlman, for his part, made a moving commercial against Proposition 8 in defense of his daughter’s marriage, dignity and humanity.

Would it not be appropriate for Obama to invite Perlman’s daughter and her wife to share the podium with her father? If the inaugural is to be inclusive, wouldn’t it be a good gesture – and an olive branch to the gay community – to invite a lesbian married couple to the stage?

19 12 2008
JJ

I found a new mom blogger through her comment at Dana’s, hosting a polite discussion of same-sex marriage mostly from the POV of what was ideal for children, making the case that society ought not legalize any form of secular marriage unless there’s sufficient study findings to convince the majority it was as good for kids as the traditional “ideal” has proven to be, so that we wouldn’t be “experimenting” with children’s welfare.

Whereupon I made the following comment:

Fascinating to see this reasoning worked out in such detail, thanks much (here via Dana’s blog.)

New input prompts new questions of course. 🙂

If the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize divorce and remarriage as reality (much less as ideal) while the government does, necessitating a system of secular laws and rulings to protect the rights of each person in such families — including children, of course — why wouldn’t legal same-sex marriage work the same way with the same secular (but not Catholic, e.g.) status?

And while we’re focusing on what’s best for children regardless of what adults might want or need, I’m wondering if anyone’s thought about the rights of gay children themselves? — even as the fruit of “ideal” traditional marriage where it’s seen as unhealthy deviance [or outright sin, I should have added].

(How could an “ideal” marriage even spawn such not-ideal children??)

And since married heterosexuals are known to give birth to homosexual children, shouldn’t godly folks and good citizens have primary concern for gay children’s special needs and equal rights at least, even if we don’t care so much once they become adults?

23 12 2008
JJ

John Cloud in Time magazine:

Obama reminds me a little bit of Richard Russell Jr., the longtime Senator from Georgia who — as historian Robert Caro has noted — cultivated a reputation as a thoughtful, tolerant politician even as he defended inequality and segregation for decades. . . . Russell said, “I’m as interested in the Negro people of my state as anyone in the Senate. I love them.”

. . . People seemed to feel that once [Obama] had won, he would find a way — in his contemplative style — to help convince Americans that gay people really do deserve basic equality. Instead, he has found a way to insult gay people deeply.

27 12 2008
writestuff444

Number one son, themcp writes about this topic, of intolerance and distrust on both sides of political and religious ideological lines. I posted my thoughts on the subject at writestuff444, but the gist is in agreement with Christopher..everyone needs to think about the powerful people who want us to disagree, we common folk, just trying to get by with a little help from our friends. Perhaps that’s the message for the New Year. Creating happy networks, of respect and tolerance where we can find common ground amongst our diverse ideas of how the world should be run.

3 01 2009
JJ

Dale’s take at Meming of Life is pretty sanguine.

13 01 2009
JJ

Al Sharpton goes public, big surprise: 🙂

Over the weekend, Al Sharpton spit some hot fire at the organized faiths that worked to pass California’s anti-gay initiative, Proposition 8, castigating them for going to the mat to overturn gay marriage in the Golden State while turning a blind eye to the needs of their communities.

There is something immoral and sick about using all of that power to not end brutality and poverty, but to break into people’s bedrooms and claim that God sent you,” Sharpton said bluntly.

He made the remarks as the keynote speaker of the Human Rights Ecumenical Service, which took place Sunday at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta.

“It amazes me,” he said, “when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being [relegated] into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners.”

14 01 2009
writestuff444

You tell em’ Al!! Even during the civil rights movement and all the protests that occurred there, white or black churches did very little all those years ago to work against racial injustice or poverty. It was northern churches that led the way, just like in abolition. California always seems like such a bipolar state! Unlike our steady little Indiana..who did surprise the rest of the country by electing Obama, but not me. I always knew we had this kind of centrist calmness at our core. Midwestern pragmatism at it’s best.

14 01 2009
JJ

NYT reports the first female head of a denomination — a liberal one — will deliver the sermon for the national prayer service:

“We really emphasize the responsibility as well as the freedom of individuals within the church to study Scripture to prayerfully pursue their own spiritual journey,” Ms. Watkins said. “That means we end up being incredibly diverse politically, theologically and socially.

“Coming out of that context, the kind of message I want to reflect on is the deeper unity we have as a human family,” she said of the sermon she planned to deliver at the National Cathedral.

Also the famous gay bishop and his partner are included:

Bishop Robinson said he might address the prayer to “the God of our many understandings,” language that he said he learned from the 12-step program he attended for his alcohol addiction.

Bishop Robinson said that his partner of more than 20 years, Mark Andrew, would accept the Obama team’s invitation to join him in attending several inaugural events. The two had a civil union ceremony last summer in a New Hampshire church.

Evan Wolfson, executive director of the gay rights group Freedom to Marry, said the choice of Bishop Robinson to deliver the invocation at an inaugural event was “a very powerful statement.” But, Mr. Wolfson added, “at the end of the day, policy is more important than who stands at the inauguration.”

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