Archive for August 18, 2008

Name your favorite newspaper, network or blog (eh-hem!) on this topic and every pundit available is squawking about who won the Saddleback Civil Forum? That’s easy.

Rick Warren! Without question or reservation.

Dude manned up and did what TV networks are too one-sided to do – he wrote a letter and got the two presumptive presidential candidates to share the same stage, a hug and a smile (if even for a second) to discuss their focus on God, patriotism and aspirations for the White House. No, this wasn’t a staged farce about “church and state” but a serious, poignant conversation about faith and politics (nice quote to open the show, BTW).

A few weeks ago, the Wall was illuminated about the news as HiScrivener opined while skipping with a spray can. A few things about that:

  1. Pastor Warren, saying you would “avoid gotcha’ questions” was a bit of a misnomer, don’t you think? Some of those questions were bait as you reeled in the big ones. Abortion, moral failures, people who trust and what does Jesus mean to you. I know you had a round table of advisers on that Q&A, but ultimately, the decision was yours. You did the church proud.
  2. Although there wasn’t the sacrosanct epiphany of whom to vote for, there was a heavenly MAPSCO that began to light the road and pointing Christians on the right road of issues and discernment. Yes, I think that was intentional; and yes, I think he was effective. Very effective.
  3. Although many would have fancied a debate, the mirrored Q&A worked well. Sometimes, it was comparing apples to apples and other times if was comparing apples to pomegranates. You were fair, balanced and made the Church proud and helped them get informed (because God knows they help to open a paper). In short, I’m proud of Rick Warren’s recognition for the need that created this forum. If the Church can’t help itself, you need to find a spoon, lather that thing up with applesauce and feed it. Good on ya’ Pastor.

So, in a race between these two horses, who ya’ got? Is it any clearer for you? Let’s discuss both of them.

For me, that was must see TV. I’m a spin doctor by trade and to see the message point pandering was worth the price of popcorn. What’s great for me is I know Rick Warren’s PR guy… well. I could just envision him taking feverish notes and laughing intermittently during Obama’s portion of the evening. That video was homework for a communications class. Genius.

I mean, who couldn’t see the perfunctory public speaking clinic Obama was throwing down? He was polished, perspicacious and obviously practiced. His craft was plied through things like: speaking to the interviewer’s strong suit, using familial and personal antecdotes, no verbal stutters, pandering to the crowd, incorporating the questions, answer with ration not reason, and so much more. Barack was the master, the likes this country hasn’t seen since Clinton. No, not her… him!

Was iter, he convincing? It depends for what you were searching.

  • Does Barack Obama believe in Jesus? Yes. (And no, it’s just an unfortunate surname, not a predilection for terrorism you rednecks.)
  • Does he have ultra-liberal views about human life and spirituality? Definitely, so don’t say you weren’t warned.
  • Does he liquidate stats for his own needs? You bet. Anyone catch that slight on President Bush concerning abortion? Something like, “He [Bush] is opposed to abortion yet it hasn’t changed.” Not so fast, brother.
  • When you saw him on stage, was he a president or a politician? I think we answered that one already with the fashion he drove around answering a direct question making NASCAR drivers quiver in their flame-retardant shoes. Here’s an example:

Now on to John McCain (and yes, thank you CNN for the crowd shots that focused on her).

This is a guy that didn’t get the media training offered in the greenroom. He stuttered like usual, kept his politico hat on with his routine references to his “friends” and was nowhere near as eloquent and loquacious as his competition. However, John McCain kept it real. So real in fact, Rick Warren was surprised he was able to ask extra questions because this is a man that has a propensity to be so certain about how he feels – too certain. He just answers from the heart without his head delivering the rest of the question.

Case in point, “How should we handle evil?” McCain doesn’t flinch, stands on the U.S. Constitution, sees a glimmer of Ol’ Glory and vehemently grimaces, “Defeat it.” Of course, everyone applauds because what’s a Christian and an American going to do? Boo?

The problem is that the Church was looking for your feelings on Satan, not your personal crux against those in the Middle East searching for 77 virgins in some distant locale. C’est la vie.

But like most leaders, someone’s strongest ability can also become their wildest weakness. Obama’s ability to weave a verbal tapestry can also cause many people to call B.S. McCain’s ability to sound so irrefutable can cause some people to call… well, B.S. But that can be refreshing at times, right? Kinda like a spouse asking, “Do you love me?” Fellas, if you flinch at that question, get ready to find a Motel 6. So when McCain was asked, “When does a baby gain human rights” he would have made a wife proud.

Well, I’ll let him tell you:

Do you pick up what he is throwing down? Now if only we can get a leader that was that certain about the economy, I could get a raise up in this piece. Well, was he convincing? Again, for what are looking?

  • Does he believe in Jesus? Yes, and if you give that story in the concentration camp any leverage, I would say a lot.
  • Does he have conservative views? Definitely, and it seems that war could indeed last 100 years. But can you blame him? Look at his past… and say what you want about the war, no one can refute what this guy has sacrificed for this country. No one!
  • Does he come across as obstinate on certain things? Indeed, and that may harm some of the lukewarm church folk out there because they won’t see McCain reaching over an aisle to thrown them a life preserver.
  • Who was he on stage, a president or a politician? Honestly, I saw neither (and I have it on Tivo, so I’m still looking). I saw a man – honest, simple and candid. And for some people in this country, that may be just enough or an alarming picture of what we already had.

So… again, who ya’ got? Think hard.

Before you hit the polls, consider who you are… and WHOSE you are. There is no perfect choice here for the next rental occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. One man clearly knows his way around a thesaurus, has a heart for helping the common man and loves… well, likes the Lord. The other has some serious beef with Osama bin Laden, is still fighting his ghosts from Vietnam and is more than willing to be a steward, not a dictator with the power he could be granted. Both have refreshing pros and annoying cons. You know, like we all do, only theirs are public.

Forget the 10-year plans. Cast aside the party affiliation. Throw away the rhetoric. What do these guys stand on? THAT’S what you vote for! From Rick Warren’s perspective, he wanted the Church to see who was standing on the Bible. Personally, I think it worked and those 66 chapters held one of them higher than the other. See you in November, Wall Watchers.

Two years of legal issues. Two weeks of an inane law suit. And it took all of two hours for the Harris County [Houston, Texas] jury to return a hearty hand of “Not Guilty” to Joel and Victoria Osteen… and probably gave Sharon Brown the finger.

I really like this wrap-up story from the Houston Chronicle. It does live up to its name – a chronicle of what happened, and how God really did provide justice for everybody.

Inspiration has sprouted and everyone involved got a nice reality check – not quite the “check” Sharon Brown intended. This Sunday, as opposed to last Sunday, the Osteens were competing for air time to thank their congregation, supporters, the jury and God.

“We’re here to tell you, to thank the Lord in front of all of you, in front of our friends, and to let you know God is a faithful God,” Joel Osteen said. “Every one of you, we know you prayed for us. We felt your love, your prayers, your support.”

I once heard a great pastor say, “A person stands tallest when he’s on his knees.” Amen, somebody? Often, it takes a dire moment of humility to expose just how human you really are. Victoria may have walked on that plane with a tiara and a carry-on of self-aggrandizement, but she walked out of the courtroom with a dose of reality and the knowledge of God’s saving grace.

“The truth is, I didn’t want to come back (to preaching),” she said. “The truth is, I wanted to stay home. I wanted to forget it. I thought: `You know what, God, maybe you are trying to tell me this isn’t what I’m supposed to do. Maybe you’re trying to tell me I need to sit home.’ You see, the enemy wants to devalue you, to humiliate you, to embarrass you.”

“I’d go out in public,” she went on. “I’d go into a restaurant, and I felt like people would turn around and look at me and they would be thinking all this stuff. You know a lot of it was in my mind. The truth is a lot of it was (internal) battles that I had to face and I had to overcome.”

And you know what, Victoria? He succeeded… and it looks like you did too. You give that fool an inch, he took you for a mile, then kicked you out of a car at some rest stop and you had to walk all the way home. You were humiliated and embarrassed. Look at you last week. I’ll admit, I hope I was wrong about Cyndi Lauper being in your iPod singing “True Colors.”

It seems you were asleep in your own splendor, covered in your shadow only to impetuously wake up and realize that shadow really wasn’t yours, but a God you serve. Now that’s justice. Sharon Brown got what she richly deserved, and Victoria Osteen got the wake-up call she needed. You have to love the Lord and want to worship him, or you wouldn’t have ever been involved with the Osteen family. So, good on ya’ Vicky.

“We got in the car that night (after testifying)  I just felt like I heard new beginnings,” he [Joel Osteen] said. “It’s a new beginning. It felt so good. I believe God is saying it’s time for new beginnings, it’s time to step into a new season of God’s favors, it’s time to be set free from things that have been holding you back.”

New beginning, eh? Well, enjoy that. Many people don’t get two of those. But maybe now you realize you put on those pants just like anyone else… albeit the name-brand, dry-clean only pants, but hey, that’s another story.