Monday, January 19, 2009

Too Scary for Primetime

Much has been said in both the public and private LGBT community since the announcement was made that vehemently anti-gay Rick Warren had been invited to open the Inaugural ceremony with an Invocation prayer. I don't have to tell you that most of it has been less than complimentary of the choice. In fact, it's cast a dark cloud over the occasion for more than a few of us.

One of the very public voices speaking out against this invitation of Rick Warren belongs to Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop of the Anglican Church in New Hampshire.

Bishop Robinson, perhaps in an effort to provide some semblance of balance in these proceedings, was susequently invited to give the Invocation to open the first major public event of the Inauguration -- the concert at the Lincoln Memorial yesterday afternoon. With over 400,000 people in attendance, the theme of the concert was reflected in its title -- "We Are One."

I tuned in a little late to the program and missed Bishop Robinson's Invocation, which I was looking forward to hearing. I was disappointed to have missed it, but since HBO re-ran the concert a couple of hours later, I tuned in again to catch the few opening minutes I'd missed. Hmm. Somehow I still managed to miss the Invocation.

Apparently, so did the 400,000 people gathered on the Mall, as it was not broadcast over the loudspeakers, either. I heard Bishop Robinson on NPR this afternoon explaining that he arrived quite early in the morning to prepare, and was given a schedule shortly before the program began. His prayer was scheduled for 2:25. The concert was scheduled to go live at 2:30.

Bishop Robinson wasn't aware that the prayer he had worked so hard to prepare would go unheard by the people gathered there, nor be included in the HBO broadcast, but said he was satisfied that the President-Elect, the Vice-President Elect, their families and God had heard it.

I wasn't as satisfied as the good Bishop, so I went looking for it. I'm not a religious person, but it's a damn fine prayer, so I'm reprinting it here, as many are doing. There's also video of the Invocation available here, which (with any luck) will go viral and reach more people than it otherwise would have. Should I ever again decide to fork over some extravagant sum of money to purchase cable television, I'll go out of my way not to include HBO in that package.

Here it is ... the dangerous prayer of a gay priest that was Too Scary for Primetime:

"O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with tears - tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless this nation with anger - anger at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort at the easy, simplistic answers we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.

Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable.

And God, we give you thanks for your child, Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for all people.Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady, calm captain.

Give him stirring words; We will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking far too much of this one. We implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand, that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity, and peace. Amen."



A source with Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration Committe (PIC) has confirmed to that a rebroadcast of HBO's We Are One concert will be shown on Jumbotron screens on the National Mall as part of tomorrow's inauguration and will also include the invocation given by Rt. Reverend Gene Robinson. The invocation was originally not included in the HBO broadcast, an omission that struck many in the gay community as another example of the Obama administration's insensitivity toward and mishandling of gay issues.

The source also clarified PIC's earlier statement — "We regret the error in executing this plan" — which struck some as pointing the blame back at HBO. In fact, the PIC source says that even though it was always their intention to include Reverend Robinson, it was their mistake it didn't get done and the blame is entirely theirs.

Even though millions of viewers will now see Rev. Robinson, the nation's only gay Episcopalian bishop, speak during Obama's inauguration, it is hard to imagine it having that much of an impact. Nonetheless, the reaction of the gay community to this, as with the passage of Prop 8 and the selection of Rick Warren to deliver the prayer during Obama's swearing in, once again shows we're fed up and not taking anything sitting down.

The blogosphere is abuzz over this. I'll just close by saying that I'd be satisfied if Rick Warren's invocation was "inadvertantly" blacked out tomorrow.


innkeeper said...

Amen. Thanks for providing the entire text, which I have copied onto my blog. I may not be able to do much for my gay and lesbian friends, but I can do this.

Kwach said...

Thank you. Your gay and lesbian friends appreciate it.

: )