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Thursday Dec 23 2008

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Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in California is pictured in September 2008. Barack Obama on Thursday defended his choice of the conservative evangelical pastor to deliver a religious invocation at his January 20 presidential inauguration ceremony.
(AFP/File/Stan Honda)
(AFP/File/Stan Honda)

A Nod To God

by Kelly Thomas

I once had a military assignment requiring me to give the invocation at graduation ceremonies. It was tradition, just as it is at the President's inauguration. (I am surprised that some ACLU type hasn't already sued to stop it). I use to call these invocations, "Nods to God."

I kept them short with something like, "Dear God, thank you for all our opportunities. Bless us in our future endeavors. Amen." One Chaplain said it was way too short. I promised to lengthen it. I never did.

My view has not permeated many of those who pray on the national scene and I doubt it will Rick Warren, the President-elect's choice to give the invocation at his inauguration.

On the Newshour the other night, they crowned Warren as America's pastor. Made me smile. I don't particularly like him because I am mostly jealous. The guy or someone around him is a marketing genius.

Warren took an average book, The Purpose Driven Life, and turned it into an industry. I followed the success of the book through an organization I'm in, Publishing Marketing Association. A friend, who is the epitome of the Christian-right also kept me informed.

Warren marketed The Purpose Driven Life to Christian bookstore owners at huge discounts who then became agents in marketing the book to churches as a study guide. The Churches leaped on it and moved the book toward bigger and bigger sells to the NY Times bestseller list that started the cycle again. A marketing genius.

Warren got Obama and John McCain to his forum. Amazing. I didn't think it was a good idea for Obama at that time because he was pandering to a lot of zealots not withstanding the separation of church and state issue. But, then again, politics causes you to do a certain amount of pandering.

I think it was a bad move to ask Warren to give the invocation. There were better choices. It would have been easy to ask any of the Chiefs of Chaplains of the various branches of Armed Forces. And, I admit, slap, slap, that I don't like goatees. And, obviously, Warren is not hanging out at a gym very often.

America's pastor? I don't think so. If he really wanted to make an impact, in my view, he should bow out. This could be his note to the President-elect: "Thank you for the great honor of asking me to give the invocation at your inauguration. But, in light of the controversy; and, at this point in the history of our country, we must do all we can to be united and not divisive. And, I have asked myself, 'What would Jesus do?' It is clear. Thank you again. You can be assured of my personal prayers and good will."

Will he do it? No. These guys have egos the size of eighteen wheelers. Unfortunately, they have not been reading the New Testament with regularity. What about the idea that Jesus conveyed consistently, "he who would be first, let him be last." Or, "let the least among you become the greatest."

Related Articles:

Pastor Rick Warren defends inauguration invite(USA Today)

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