Jesurgislac’s Journal

January 15, 2009

Savage Saddlebacking

Mocking Rick Warren:

My life’s purpose over the last week was reading thousands of proposed new definitions for “saddlebacking” sent in by my readers. As with the new definition of santorum crafted by Savage Love readers (“the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes a byproduct of anal sex”), the new definition of “saddlebacking” has to be some act that (1) needs a name but doesn’t already have one (we can’t just rename “reverse cowgirl,” people) and (2) is naughty enough to discomfort, say, a Reverend Warren, but something that actual people might actually do because that’s the only way the actual word will actually get used.

If you click on the link, you can find what definitions 2 to 7 are, but for my money, the best definition is number one:

Saddleback: “Logically, if ‘barebacking’ means having butt sex with no condom, then ‘saddlebacking’ should mean having butt sex with a condom.” Dan Savage notes: (1) I like the idea that “sex” is understood to include condoms and that sex without condoms—bareback sex—needs a special term. But tons of people suggested that “saddlebacking” should be the opposite of “barebacking,” so here it is.

I like this especially for mocking Rick Warren, because Warren’s much touted global AIDS work is on evangelical Christian lines. Warren doesn’t promote saddlebacking, so his church should be made to – by name, if not by tithing.

It is worth noting that during the 2000 campaign, Bush, a born-again Christian, promised to provide more federal funding to faith-based groups working on various social problems. Thus it may be no coincidence that some of the same people who once treated the issue of AIDS with indifference suddenly seemed so concerned about it. Do evangelical Christian groups have a role to play in fighting the AIDS epidemic? Maybe they do, but at the moment they are engaged in an unseemly battle with secular AIDS organizations over US government contracts that could derail what little progress there has been in combating the epidemic.

Most of the $15 billion in the AIDS plan is to be spent on treatment and care for people with AIDS, but $1 billion is earmarked for HIV prevention through abstinence-only-until-marriage education. Since 1996, the US government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on similar programs in American schools. These programs teach children that heterosexual intercourse within marriage is the only safe and acceptable form of sexual behavior. Teachers in those programs are barred from mentioning condoms and birth control—except their failure rates. (God and the Fight Against AIDS, Helen Epstein)

Some of the other definitions are highly ingenious, but none have the poetic appropriateness of definition 1, so I would like you to vote for that definition from the list of nominees by sending an e-mail to saddleback@savagelove.net, including “saddleback: 1” in your subject line. Or, if you must, vote for another definition, one you like better (put the number of your preferred definition in the subject line to have your vote count – “saddleback: 1,” “saddleback: 2,” etc.) But vote now!


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January 13, 2009

Two days separation makes it safe

I don’t know whether it disturbed me worse: whether Rick Warren’s invitation was a classic mistake on the lines of “we’re BFF, I don’t need to vet him” or if Obama had Warren vetted and either didn’t care or approved of Warren’s beliefs about effective AIDS work, torture, and same-sex marriage.

For example: this interview in which Warren compares same-sex marriage to child molestation, incest, and polygamy; or Warren’s championing of Martin Ssempa, whose notion of fighting AIDS in Uganda is to burn condoms and preach abstinence – either of which should have been enough to eliminate Warren as a choice for this honour.

As Michelle Goldberg notes, same-sex marriage isn’t the only thing that one hopes Warren and Obama don’t agree on:

Meanwhile, while Warren says he opposes torture, he doesn’t treat the subject with anything like the zeal he accords gay marriage and abortion. As he recently told Beliefnet.com, he never even brought up the subject with the Bush administration, where he had considerable access. Just before the 2004 election, he sent out an e-mail to his congregation outlining the five issues that he considered “non-negotiable”. “In order to live a purpose-driven life – to affirm what God has clearly stated about his purpose for every person he creates – we must take a stand by finding out what the candidates believe about these five issues, and then vote accordingly,” he wrote. The issues were abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage, cloning and euthanasia. Torture, apparently, is something that decent Christians can disagree on.

Was Obama genuinely ignorant of this? Was Warren’s selection just the first failure of the Obama administration to vet candidates?

Or did Obama know that Warren opposes effective AIDS campaigning in Africa, thinks torture is an issue that Christians can agree-to-disagree on, and that Warren is the kind of Christian homophobe decent people should want sidelined as a radical, not given this kind of central honour – and just not care?
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