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Upcoming God-talk on the political stage

On Saturday, evangelical pastor and author Rick Warren will sit down with U.S. presidential candidates Senators Barak Obama and John McCain for an hour each at Saddleback Church. CNN and C-SPAN just announced they’ll carry the event live and I’m thinking other cable news networks will follow suite.

I mentioned to my husband the other day that only Warren could do this. To be honest, I’ve had mixed feelings about Warren in the past. Unlike many of my evangelical friends (even those wise prophets who hover at the edges whom I deeply respect—you know who you are, heh), I wasn’t all that enamored with Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life. But when I started hearing about the things Warren was doing (like advocating for AIDS victims and speaking out about poverty), he began to get my attention. These and similar issues have gotten pitifully little attention in the upper echelons of evangelical rhetoric and focus, and it heartens me to see Warren not only address them but lead efforts in doing something about them. It’s made him a somewhat controversial figure, but it has also caused folks like me to give Warren a second look. Lately, I’ve begun to wonder if Warren isn’t becoming this generation’s version of Billy Graham—whom, I recently read, Warren thinks of as “a model of great integrity.” Warren is not Graham (anymore than Graham is Warren), but Warren shares a few aspects with Graham that I’ve always respected, including integrity and a seemingly relentless drive to puts hands and feet on God’s love—which seems to garner respect from both sides of the political aisle and give birth to events like the one on Saturday.

I still don't think Warren is the end-all-and-be-all, but he has gotten my attention. As to Saturday, like Dana Parsons at the L.A. Times I’m cautiously hopeful concerning what questions Warren will ask. Will they be run-of-the-mill questions that illicit responses we’ve already have heard the candidates talk about? Or will Warren dig deeper?

I guess I’ll have to wait until Saturday to find out.