Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rick and Kay Warren at Saddleback

A friend of mine recently mentioned Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, as an interesting change from old style right-wing Christian leaders such as Sally Kern. I hadn't heard of him before, but this is the guy who sponsored the forum where Barack Obama and John McCain both spoke recently.

This morning I accidentally heard the last few seconds of this public radio program:

Rick and Kay Warren at Saddleback [Speaking of Faith-- from American Public Media]

What I heard was Rick Warren saying something like, if you're asking why God isn't stepping in to fix serious problems in the world, God is asking the same thing about you. And Warren said that in order to work on these problems, his church was willing to work with believers, agnostics, atheists, gays...

Yup, that sounds different than Sally Kern all right.

I don't know if I'll have time to go back and listen to the entire show. But I did poke around on the Speaking of Faith website page about this particular broadcast.

I'm sorry to say that in many ways, Saddleback Church sounds like a typical, authoritarian evangelical church, in ways that creep me out a little bit. They say "you were made for God's pleasure." I don't know what I think about God. But I do think that any God(dess?) worth believing in would create beings for their own pleasure, and take pleasure in those beings being themselves.

I don't know what position they take on the role of women, but I'm wary. Kay Warren does seem to play a prominent role in the enterprise. (The pastor's wife seems to play a well-publicized role in many evangelical churches.) She has recently published a book, Dangerous Surrender. This may be about her view of Christian discipleship in general, but the title reminds me of all those books trying to convince us that wives should submit to their husbands and men should be the ones who take leadership roles in church and society.

Nevertheless, the Warrens and their church do seem to represent an interesting shift away from the right-wing evangelical politics of the past.

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