The Unwarranted Talk About Warren

Reverend Rick Warren was speaking at the 2005 Aspen Institute Ideas Festival. I had taken the afternoon off to finish the preparations on our annual dinner, which hosts the event's speakers, when my husband suddenly burst into the room, exclaiming something I had long suspected. "You know, you're not going to heaven," Stewart informed me, as shocked as if he'd just heard it announced on MSNBC.

"Yeah, I know, but how did you finally figure it out?" I asked. Stewart went on to explain that Warren had just stated that unless I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, I wouldn't be welcome across the threshold of the Pearly Gates "Who cares?" I threw up my hands, then added, with the assumption that my husband and I would end up in the same eternal destination, "Where we'll be, we'll be eating Chinese food, wearing Indian silks, and doing the hora."

Now you might conclude from that experience that I am part of the anti-Warren brigade, but in fact I adore the man. I don't, however, agree with all his views and certainly take great exception to his support of Proposition 8.

Rev. Rick Warren is a cuddly bear of a fellow, full of good cheer and a great sense of humor, even about himself. My main issue is sustainability of the earth, and protection of those animals and people who dwell here. One of the many reasons I admire Warren is that he brought this movement to the Evangelicals, where he has found many supporters among their ranks.

Before this month's spate of incendiary media attention, there were few who would deny that Warren's good deeds are numerous, that his work on AIDS relief in Africa alone merits our awe and respect. His book A Purpose Driven Life, which deals with self-motivation and helping others as part of our life's goal, has sold more than 25 million copies.

With the magnitude of the recent media attention, you'd think Warren had been chosen for a Cabinet post, rather than a small segment of a one-day affair. Someone has to conduct the invocation. Do you think it would be possible for our future president to find a famous religious leader that would publicly support same-sex marriage? And sadly, Barack Obama, if we are to believe his public statements, is also against gay marriage.

I mentioned Obama's stance to an acquaintance today, and she said, "Yeah, but he doesn't mean it." Maybe he doesn't and maybe he does, but as much as I revere Barack Obama, I know he is not infallible. He is not the caped superhero of graffiti lore (as dashing as that image may be) or even a one-size-fits-all personality who will continually please his supporters, let alone his detractors. He is willing to take the controversy of his decisions and even caution us when he says we can "disagree without being disagreeable."

The hubbub caused by Obama's selection of Warren is another example of the media whipping it up for 15 minutes of news noise. "The magic of this country is we are diverse, and noisy, and opinionated, " Obama stated at a recent press conference, "and so that's the spirit in which we have put together ... a terrific inauguration."

I think it will be a magical day, not just for our society but for the world. Just so you know, I am not giving up going to heaven, and I work on my entry speech almost daily. If The Rapture happens to arrive before I am called, and if I see Jesus in the sky above me glowing in golden light, I'm going with Him. And I don't follow just anybody.