Something told me that Rick Warren's missing a date with ABC's This Week would be big news. I was wrong. Something told me he had, after all, every right to be exhausted--which is the excuse he gave. Apparently, FOX news decided to air a couple of worship services from his church and demanded the place get fresh paint. Reportedly, the fumes got to Dr. Warren. He got sick, and he canceled his appearance with George Stephanpolus a half hour before he was to go on.
Such last minute dodges are not kosher, of course. He left poor George scrambling. But I thought his baling the way he did would be THE news because one could hardly help thinking, when it happened, that Warren's earlier, apparent flip-flopping on the issue of gay marriage was about to get him tarred-and-feathered, the only question remaining being, by which side.
Right now, there ain't no middle ground on gay marriage, just as there isn't on abortion, although with abortion what little there is is getting wider, for better or worse, perhaps because by way of the combatants' sheer exhaustion. Once upon a time I asked a friend of mine, a respected, nationally-known theologian, what he thought of the whole business of gay marriage. He said he just didn't know; what he did know, he told me, was that nary a week went by without someone from either side calling to campaign for his endorsement. George S knew he had a hot number for the Sabbath news show sweepstakes because it looked for all the world as if Dr. Warren had waffled. That was news.
So was his dropping out so late in the game. But if there's a story here, no one's found it. The exhaustion was physical, created by a new paint job.
There is a straight-and-narrow way here, of course, but the question, at this point in time, is whether the straight-and-narrow argument extends to American democracy. Some say yes, of course, because we've always been a "Christian" nation, or at least a nation conceived in values that are Judeo-Christian. Gay marriage puts us even farther down the road to Vanity Fair.
Other believers say, quoting scripture, render unto Caesar what is his, to God what is God's. Of paramount value is my personal determination of what is right--and wrong, not the nation's. Such moral questions as abortion and gay marriage can't be settled by your or my religious values because politics is the art of compromise and the number of non-Christians in America continues to rise; we're not a "Christian nation."
And the beat goes on. The fire rages. Tea bags get tossed in the ocean. People wail and cry and preach and console. And grow nauseous from paint fumes.
For whatever reason, last Sunday Dr. Warren may have dodged a bullet as artfully as President Bush dodged a madman's shoes, but he's not yet out of the woods on the issue of gay marriage. None of us are, and not either side.