Monday, August 18, 2008

Rick Warren's Faith Forum

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Per reader request, here is the round-up on the Rick Warren Faith Forum from Saturday night. The video is available here. The transcript is here. I personally watched it. Twice. The only MSM-related work I did was to search around to find sources and video.

First off, Rick Warren did a good job. He asked many worthwhile questions, and I believe him when he said that his intention was to ask both participants the identical questions. Obama went first, and Warren believed that McCain was in the back of the building in a sound-proofed room, although that turned out to not be the case.

Mr. Warren, the pastor of Saddleback, had assured the audience while he was interviewing Mr. Obama that "we have safely placed Senator McCain in a cone of silence" and that he could not hear the questions... Interviewed Sunday on CNN, Mr. Warren seemed surprised to learn that Mr. McCain was not in the building during the Obama interview.
The major difference came in the answers. Obama gave detailed, nuanced answers, while McCain stuck to simple answers, and personal anecdotes. One of the early questions was about one’s moral failures. Obama’s answer was:
OBAMA: Well, in my own life I’d break it up in stages. I had a difficult youth. My father wasn’t in the house. I’ve written about this. You know, there were times where I experimented with drugs. I drank in my teenage years. And what I traced this to is a certain selfishness on my part. I was so obsessed with me and, you know, the reasons that I might be dissatisfied that I couldn’t focus on other people. And I think the process for me of growing up was to recognize that it’s not about me. It’s about –

WARREN: I like that. I like that.

OBAMA: Absolutely. So — but look, you know, when I — when I find myself taking the wrong step, I think a lot of times it’s because I’m trying to protect myself instead of trying to do god’s work.

WARREN: Fundamental selfishness.

OBAMA: So that I think is my own failure.
Meanwhile, McCain’s answer was
MCCAIN: My greatest moral failing — and I have been a very imperfect person — is the failure of my first marriage. It’s my greatest moral failure.
For some reason, McCain did not mention that the “failure” of his first marriage involved his adultery.
After a whirlwind courtship, John asked Cindy to marry him. But there were some details to clear out of the way. McCain needed a divorce from Carol, his wife of 14 years from whom he was separated. After McCain's dramatic homecoming from Vietnam, the couple grew apart. Their marriage began disintegrating while McCain was stationed in Jacksonville. McCain has admitted to having extramarital affairs. In his book Worth the Fighting For, McCain offers his own post-mortem on his failed marriage. He "had not shown the same determination to rebuild (his) personal life" as he had to excel in his naval career.

"Sound marriages can be hard to recover after great time and distance have separated a husband and wife. We are different people when we reunite," McCain wrote. "But my marriage's collapse was attributable to my own selfishness and immaturity more than it was to Vietnam, and I cannot escape blame by pointing a finger at the war. The blame was entirely mine."
It is a telling difference that one man would give a soul searching answer, and the other would gloss over a personal failure he has written about, and discussed, in the past.

The next thing that really caught me was the question about what each had changed his mind about over the last 10 years. Obama’s answer had to do with welfare reform: how he had feared that the changes in the 1990’s would be tough on the poor, but he found that he was wrong. McCain said, basically, drill.

And as for energy, Obama’s answer to solving the energy crisis revolved around a multi-faceted approach, and McCain said “drill”.

One of the things that frightened me was McCain’s answer on same-sex marriage. While Obama’s answer was that he favoured civil unions, McCain said he was happy to let the states decide, since he was a Federalist.
And if a federal court — if a federal court decided that my state of Arizona had to observe what the state of Massachusetts decided, then I would favor a constitutional amendment. Until then, I believe the states should make the decisions within their own states.
Therefore, he believes in states rights just up to the moment that his state does something he does not like.

You probably get the idea. Either watch the video or read the transcript. It really was pretty interesting.