Wednesday, January 21, 2009

NEW DAY... That Means US, too!

Bishop Gene Robinson...Lexington, KY native
As a Unitarian Christian, Rick Warren's prayer itself did not offend me! I fully agree that the choice of Warren to give the Invocation was troubling. I support those whose anger is righteous, and I take my clue from Bishop Gene Robinson, who has mingled grace and understanding with clarity and outspoken rage. But the prayer itself was just fine.

Two magic words words made it so: I, my. He said this, "I humbly pray in the name of the one that changed my life..." Warren did not try to impose his notion of Christianity upon those listening, and he made what I will be gracious enough to say was a legitimate attempt to be at least as inclusive as his own authentic beliefs would allow him to be.. including the shema, translating the name of Jesus, and mentioning several times "all people."

I watched the Inauguration at the home of a colleague.. no, not a UU minister.. a Baptist minister! Baptists (liberal), Catholics, an Episcopalian rector, and a Unitarian watched it together, and, guess what? Each and every one of them was more irked by Warren's prayer than I was. "We knew he would make it exclusively Christian!" They were barely listening because they were prepared to be disgusted. We all laughed about the fact that I was the only one who found it even marginally acceptable.

I admit that I listened closely and that I cheered inwardly for him to do the right thing. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, not because I am any less exhausted and furious at those who will not allow GLBT people their full rights, but because I think he is key to some new ways of crossing bridges and changing hearts. The fact that he agreed to pray for this otherwise liberal love-fest was impressive. And I want to celebrate him for what he did not say.

He didn't call Jesus "Christ." He didn't say "saved me," he said, "changed my life." He didn't say sinners, Hell, wrath, born again, salvation, resurrection, or use any of the language that makes me feel excluded.

I heard that some GLBT folk who were there turned their backs on Warren. While I understand this gesture, I want to turn toward, not away from those who disagree with me, so that we can meet somewhere, and so that their hearts can be touched and softened. I want to take to heart Rev. Lowery's words: we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

I get a little weary of our liberal/ UU/ "progressive" self righteousness. If all we do is attack and cry foul, we shall never make progress. It's a new day! That means us, too.