OK. I gotta admit, I am no Rick Warren fan. I read The Purpose Driven Life (mostly- as much as I could stomach of it). It was an OK book and I can see how some people would really like it. But, I have to say I don't like the Purpose Driven Empire. It's too much like the Left Behind empire. And, I was not happy about McCain and Obama's first appearance "together" being a "I'm a better Christian than you face off." Personal feelings aside, I could not miss the opportunity to watch the discussion last night and it turned out to be much better than I thought.
Rick Warren asked the tough questions that people want to know the answers to and I think both Obama and McCain stepped up to the plate and did not do the usual politician thing of answering every question except the one asked. I hate that and I think both candidates knew the American public (the evangelical public) was not going for that last night. Both gave frank and honest answers. I salute them for that. I also think the format was brilliant. Giving both men the same questions and not allowing one to hear the other's answer gave us a real opportunity to compare and contrast them.
Specific answers aside, some things jumped out at me. Barack Obama is a much more nuanced man than John McCain. He does not see things in terms of black or white but in shades of gray. He cannot give a "straight answer" on most issues not because he's playing politician but because he truly sees both sides of most issues and realizes that good people have honest differences. Even when it comes to the question of "evil", while he acknowledged that evil exists and must be confronted, he gave very different examples of evil than John McCain did. And, McCain doesn't want to confront "evil", he wants to destroy it. Obama took several sentences or paragraphs to answer just about every question and would sit and ponder before giving his answer. McCain would snap out a "yes", "no" or "let's get 'em" almost before Rick Warrren got the question out of his mouth. I saw a very different worldview from each man last night and it's good for people to understand our choices in that sense.
I have to say one thing that bugged me about McCain was all the stories about Viet Nam. My understanding is most Vets are reluctant to talk publicly (or even privately) about their time in Viet Nam and I had heard this was true of McCain. As he kept up the stories last night, I wanted to scream at the TV "What have you been doing for the last 40 years?" While I admire, respect and am grateful to any man or woman who voluntarily serves our country, I got the impression McCain was really playing up his service last night and that I did not like. It's the only thing negative I have to say about the performance by any of the three men. Overall, I think they did a great job and I wonder if that format will be utilized in the future because I think it worked brilliantly.