It appears that the Associated Press has learned that there are Christians like Saddleback pastor Rick Warren who invoke the name of Jesus (!) when they pray and that it may offend some — notably people like journalists who hold to a faith that relies on human understanding alone. Warren, for his part, played it coy:
Warren did not answer directly when asked whether he would dedicate his prayer to Jesus. In a statement Tuesday to The Associated Press, Warren would say only that, “I’m a Christian pastor so I will pray the only kind of prayer I know how to pray.”
“Dedicate” his prayer to Jesus? What kind of people are these Christians? The Associated Press investigates further and finds this, courtesy of the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, who invoked the name of Jesus at George W. Bush’s 2001 inauguration:
Evangelicals generally expect their clergymen to use Jesus’ name whenever and wherever they lead prayer. Many conservative Christians say cultural sensitivity goes way too far if it requires religious leaders to hide their beliefs.
“If Rick Warren does not pray in Jesus’ name, some folks are going to be very disappointed,” Caldwell said in a recent phone interview. “Since he’s evangelical, his own tribe, if you will, will have some angst if he does not do that.”
This Jesus thing is tricky. Everybody knows that the only people allowed to invoke his name are liberal politicians bent on shaming conservatives into paying way more taxes. When it comes from an acknowledged evangelical minister it can only mean proselytizing. Fortunately, the Associated Press is on the case. Stay tuned.
From Jeremy Taylor, who is back blogging after a long hiatus, points out something I’d heard before but is good to remember now that we have a new group leading our country:
American conservatism is often derided by the Left for exceptionalism, or the belief that as a country, we’re different and exceptional (which sometimes leads to unilateralism on the order of Mark Steyn’s America Alone.) And there are always the two dangerous ditches– one of vanity and hubris which blinds one to the faults of his country and the other, self-deprecation which blinds one to the virtues of it. The ditch which the Left all too often falls into is knee-jerk apologizing for America.
Now with the proper sophrosyne and balance, let me quickly dispense with the customary precursor and invocation which must precede, “I’m proud of America,” and that’s, “Of course, America isn’t perfect. We have our faults.”
Collectively in the primaries, we saw a guitar-playing former Baptist minister, a Mormon business executive, a Kansas farmer, an Italian-American twice remarried district attorney, a decorated Vietnam Vet, a female lawyer, a black community organizer, a Hispanic gun owner. Now, the descriptors obviously are simplistic tags, but they aren’t meant to be reductionist or divisive.
The labels are meant to show that we have diversity and social mobility and one cannot compare Europe (much less Asia or daresay Africa) to America. Where is there such a diversity of candidates for executive office?
So, let’s be humble in the coming year but also let’s be grateful. There are opportunities afforded to us in this country that are not found elsewhere.