This is the guy who is opposed to abortion rights, stem cell research, women's rights, gay marriage and yes, he voted for California's Prop 8. This is the self righteous dude who was quoted in Salon as saying he would never vote for an atheist, for the following reason:
"An atheist says, 'I don't need God,'" Warren said. "They're saying, 'I'm totally self-sufficient in myself,' and nobody's self-sufficient enough to be president -- it's too big a job."Saying one doesn't need a god is not the same as saying one is totally self-sufficient. Who is totally self-sufficient? Nobody. We all rely upon family and community in order to survive. Is Warren saying that an atheist president would not select a cabinet and make myriad appointments because she thinks she can do it all herself? Or is Warren making a more sinister accusation -- that no one can become president unless they believe in an acceptable mythology. You know, the kind that posits there is some kind of huge power hovering over the head of state. One that must be prayed to or called upon to bless every decision. How ridiculous!
For the non-believer, this world with all its denizens -- plant, animal, human -- is more than enough to spend a life time contemplating. We don't need to invent higher beings before which we feel compelled to prostrate ourselves in submission. Personally, when I need inspiration, I turn to the arts. A painting, a piece of music, a great work of dramatic literature, a poem -- these works created by humans are enough to keep me going through the tough times and the absurd times.
But unfortunately, works of art aren't enough for a lot of people. (They somehow refuse to acknowledge that their religious books were made by humans, not gods.) They must have their belief systems that involve commandments, prayers and invocations. So why do politicians include invocations to gods in official ceremonies? What is the purpose? An invocation may be defined as a prayer that calls upon some imaginary being to do a favor, to offer protection or to actually enter the person doing the calling. This is opposite of an evocation which calls upon the spirit to actually manifest itself in a particular place. Both modes sound like a lot of humbug to me, or to be polite -- involve a lot of imagination on the part of the people doing the invoking and the evoking.
Also on Obama's inauguration agenda is a benediction to be delivered by Rev. Joe Lowry, a religionist of the leftist persuasion. A benediction is, as the Latin root hints at, an invocation asking for beneficial results. It is usually at the end of a ceremony. It is in actuality a call for good luck. I do agree we need some of that, but I am skeptical that one can command good luck to appear.
So we see that the Obama inauguration must be viewed as an act of political theatre, with the religionists at the beginning and the end appearing as symbols of Obama's wish that we all -- fundies and lefties -- get along and respect each other. Too bad Rick Warren has no respect for atheists like me. There is only one thing to do, and that is to click on the mute button when the religionists start their braying, er praying and try not to get too embarassed by all the head-bowing and holier than thou posturing.
Don't get me started on the absurdity of taking an oath of office by placing one's hand on an ancient book filled with primitive attempts to understand the natural world. One day, it may be possible that people can promise to tell the truth and to serve in office with honor and distinction -- and that will be enough. You made your promise on the record and if you break it, no bolt from Zeus will strike you, but your reputation may be lost for good.
Does this rant mean I am thoroughly disgusted with Obama? No, it simply means that I recognize that the godless are still society's lepers. The symbolic bookends of Warren and Lowry are a display of inclusiveness -- of people who believe in some sort of god or higher being. Those of us who don't believe will just have to shut up and put up as usual.