Rick Warren’s Invocation

So here is another blog about something other than teaching. Yesterday was a historic day and I think it is worth writing about.

Rick Warren, evangelical megachurch pastor from California, gave the invocation at yesterday’s inauguration ceremony. First, let me get my bias out of the way. As a evangelical protestant with a slight liberal tilt I really enjoyed his prayer and have no real issue with it. Now for the analysis.

This prayer, at the start especially, was enormously inclusive.  Right near the beginning he recites in English the Sh’ma, one of the most important prayers in Judaism (its also a verse I like for the record). He than calls God the “compassionate and merciful one”. This is a clear reference to the Qur’an and many Suras that refer to God (Allah) as such. When you include his christian references he ably includes all three Abrahamic religions in his prayer. No small feat for an evangelical methinks.

Most of the middle of the prayer is pretty standard and good. He prays for the first family, the country, for us to uphold good values and asks God to forgive us when we don’t. All very nice so let me fast forward to the end.

At the end he says Jesus’ name in 4 languages (Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish and English) and than closes with the Lord’s prayer. Leading the country in such an explicitly christian prayer likely irked a few people given the ecumenical nature of what is supposed to be, by and large, a political ceremony (however steeped in religious tradition it may be). However I’m largely OK with it and enjoyed the prayer. Here’s why.

Right before he starts the end he calls Jesus, “”the one who changed my life.” He changes tones near the end and makes it very personal. He mentions Jesus not for any superficial gain, not to cynically mention Jesus because “that’s what Christians do.” He does it because Jesus (God) has had such an impact on his life that he cannot help but mention him. He understands it seems by his language that not every American is where he is at but for him its truth and so it seems extremely appropriate for him to end the prayer the way he did. It reminds me of Joshua when he told the Israelites,

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”(Joshua 24:15)

I have no reason to doubt Warren’s sincerity in making his prayer and so I won’t. Warren will continue to be criticized for past comments but from my end on inauguration day he did America right, by acknowledging our differences while also staying true to his own, personal, deeply held beliefs.

May we all have something we believe in so much that we can’t help to talk about it because it is just that good.

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Accomplishments

So this blog is supposed to be about the Czech Republic and my prep to get there but I just had a big highlight in my life and wanted to share it with others.

On Sunday I successfully completed my first marathon at Walt Disney World (for those keeping score I’m 1 for 1). I ran 3:07:34 which was 3 minutes better than my goal time of 3:10:59 which would allow me to qualify and run the Boston Marathon in April. I did this race to qualify for Boston, a race I’ve grown up watching and since I started running, dreamed about completing. It is so totally awesome.

I finished 133rd overall out of 14,940 finishers. Disney is more of a fun, entertaining marathon than a competitive one like Boston and they did not disappoint. I got to run through all 4 major Disney parks, seeing Disney characters all the way. I ran through Cinderella’s castle and saw Cinderella and the fairy Godmother while I did it. I felt really good until the last 5 or 6 miles when my legs tightened up a bit, though I still finished strong. I paced myself exactly how I wanted running my second 10 miles faster than my first 10 miles. (By the way, for any non-runners out there, a marathon is ALWAYS 26.2 miles, a half-marathon 13.1 miles).

One funny story from the race will give you an idea of what the disney marathon is about. For the first half of the race there was a small middle-aged man running near me. He ran at a very excited quick clip. Nothing too odd about that, but this male runner was wearing a minnie costume. With Spandex underneath. And he stopped to take pictures with every character. And he kept up my pace for the first half. Pretty funny…

Anyway this was a huge accomplishment for me, the cumilnation of over 20 weeks of training in South Africa and here. Thanks to all my family and intern friends who saw me at the finish or wished me well from abroad. You were all great.

ON TO BOSTON!