I would declare Rick Warren, the pastor of the Saddleback Church in Orange County, California to be the "winner" in last night’s Evangelical political forum. He organized the event, provided his church as venue and moderated the show. The television commentators mentioned several times that 20,000 people are "members" of his church. That seemed to surprise them. Where I live, (the RC diocese of Arlington) that would not be an unusual thing in any number of parishes. Warren ran his event well. He looked like a prosperous NGO manager a couple of times. Obama referred to Warren’s book sales once. They were impressive. Warren at one point told Obama that a family with an income of $150,000/year would be poor in Orange County. Hmmm. That brought to mind a Franciscan priest whom I once encountered in Jerusalem. He had been a diocesan pastor in Orange County and had left to become a friar. When asked why, he said that his Mercedes had been getting in the way of his ability to follow Jesus.
John McCain’s journey into the world of neocon thinking is described well in the article cited below. I would not ascribe his political inclinations to the naval background of his upbringing. Many, many people from similar backgrounds end by completely rejecting such a background as they develop their own thinking. Others do not. McCain has problems that originate elsewhere. He does not seem to be a deep thinker. He responds with slogans to questions that require complex solutions.
Warren – "What is worth fighting for (paraphrase)?" McCain – "Freedom!" (followed by other words about national interest, etc.) Warren – "There is evil in the world. What should we do about it?" McCain – "Defeat it!" This is neocon Jacobin koolaid in a "high proof" form.
Whose freedom? Everyone’s? If so, we will be very busy if this man is elected president. "Evil?" How will we defeat evil? Richard Perle and David Frum wrote a book entitled something like, "The end of evil." This is childish. Evil is a continuing reality against which humanity is summoned to struggle. There will be no end to evil. There will be no end to the struggle against evil. Nevertheless, it is fair to ask what means McCain intends to rely on to "defeat evil." This is especially true in light of his "Freedom" response. Some may say this is mere campaign talk. If you think that, contemplate McCain’s face as he makes responses like those.
The devout in that church loved the slogans. It is to their credit that their approval of McCain’s evident inclination to re-open "Freedom’s Frontier" would surely be met by increased enlistments of their children in that struggle. It would, would it not?
The NY Times will publish a similar article on Obama. That will get equal attention here. pl