Monday, April 09, 2012

Rick Warren's Babbling (UPDATE)

Here I thought we were through with him. Apparently not.
WARREN: Well, certainly the Bible says we are to care about the poor. There’s over 2,000 versus in the Bible about the poor. And God says that those who care about the poor, God will care about them and God will bless them. But there’s a fundamental question on the meaning of “fairness.” Does fairness mean everybody makes the same amount of money? Or does fairness mean everybody gets the opportunity to make the same amount of money? I do not believe in wealth redistribution, I believe in wealth creation…
WARREN: The only way to get people out of poverty is J-O-B-S. Create jobs. To create wealth, not to subsidize wealth. When you subsidize people, you create the dependency. You — you rob them of dignity. There are a lot of negative things that happen to us. Rather, we should be focusing on wealth creation and job creation, in my opinion…
My most-read post of all time concerns some not-very-nice comments Rick Warren's wife made about people living with HIV/AIDS. For a few minutes, he was a person of some public interest several years ago. I even wrote a few posts about him, especially when I was complaining that Pres. Obama asked him to give the opening prayer at his inauguration.

In all fairness, there are a few lines in the interview with which I agree. I think it is more than fair to say that there are some habits of consumption and competition for social prestige that are in need of criticism; I've made many similar points myself, and would be lying if I denied it. Buried in a context, however, that has Warren spewing partisan talking points rather than well-thought-out ethical positions, including the chestnut regarding "dependence", one can only call crap by its name.

In an interview on or around Easter, this is far worse. The Church is not about endorsing this or that partisan platform, social or economic ideology, or even placing blame for our current troubles. I am not even that impressed with Warren's fake magnanimity in which he insists our current economic woes lie at the feet of "multiple administrations", a failure of moral courage so huge one is almost tempted to laugh at any attempt he seems to make to offer a view on a way out.

I should be clear. I am not denying Warren's credentials as a pastor, as a Christian, or anything of that sort. What I am saying is his words show someone unwilling to begin with the Gospel in his thinking about matters of social, economic, and political ethics. Revealing someone quite willing to spout the rather shallow, hollow babble from one political ideology and party, Warren's words in this interview leave me wondering if he has actually thought about the relationship between the crucified and risen Jesus and our current historical moment, always with the first thought on the Gospel.

UPDATE: Some might call it fate. Some might call it karma. Me? I call it the Holy Spirit smacking Rick Warren around for running his mouth.
Sometimes, I think we should hang the phrase, "much as overlooked critics once warned" in blinding pink neon down one side of the Washington Monument. "Overlooked critics" said Iraq would be a mess. "Overlooked critics" said massive tax cuts for the wealthy would balloon the deficit. "Overlooked critics" said engaging in "welfare reform" based on fanciful theories about "dependency," and fairy tales about young bucks buying steaks and welfare queens with their Cadillacs, and measuring the whole thing by how many people you can trim from government assistance, was asking for the whole problem to come cascading down through the levels of government, from national to local, from Washington to the states to the cities and towns, until it simply buried the people at the very bottom of society. Sometimes, I think we'd actually do better not to "overlook" some critics.
The referenced Times piece can be found by clicking these words.

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