A number of years ago, John McCain did a hilarious segment on "Saturday Night Live" in which he did a spoof commercial for an album called "McCain Sings Streisand."
The "commercial" featured a crooning McCain torturing a number of Streisand hits -- "People," "Memories," "The Way We Were."
The senator then pitched, "I've been in politics for 20 years, and for 20 years I've had Barbra Streisand trying to do my job. So I decided to try my hand at her job."
Pastor Rick Warren's presidential candidate "Civic Forum" at his Saddleback Church brought this SNL highlight to mind.
I'm picturing a segment with Lou Dobbs or Brit Hume preaching a Sunday sermon in a crowded church and then looking into the camera and saying, "Rick Warren is taking a fling at my job, so I thought I'd try my hand at his."
My apologies to Pastor Warren. Who am I to question a pastor who has sold 35 million books that flick on the light for folks to see that life is more than just about themselves?
God Bless Pastor Warren for this.
But I think his foray into presidential politics carries a lot of baggage and creates problems.
If anything characterizes the problems we're having today it is relativism and ambiguity. A blurring of lines between everything. John McCain's "Saturday Night Live" sketch jokes about one part of this. Our elevation of entertainment and celebrity to the point where movie stars start thinking they should be setting public policy, and the public taking them seriously.
In our materialism, we're losing the distinction between money, power and celebrity as compared with knowledge and wisdom.
Now we're seeing a world in which clarity between good and evil, right and wrong, knowledge and ignorance, men and women is disappearing into a borderless and indistinguishable gray.
For whatever good intentions Rick Warren may have, by posturing as a neutral broker between different points of view, many of which have profound moral and religious implications, he contributes to the moral ambiguity which we'd expect a pastor to be combating.
We have institutions for civic and political forums. The press, universities, town halls, etc. If they're not delivering well, let the marketplace work to improve what we're getting. But this is not the job of pastors or churches. If it is, where do we go to learn about good and evil?
What exactly is going on in America when our obsession is to cleanse every inch of public space from religion, yet somehow we think it is appropriate to bring a presidential political forum into church?
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