Missed (Regrettably) the Saddleback Civil Forum

I am kicking myself for missing last night’s CNN replay of the recent Saddleback Civil Forum featuring Senators John McCain and Barrack Obama.

I was up late working on something and had the TV on for visual noise. News networks are good for that — sometimes something comes up and you decide it’s worth turning up, though generally it’s just the usual minutia overplay of the 24 hour news cycle. When I saw that they were replaying Rick Warren’s Saddleback Civil Forum non-debate “debate” I was tempted to turn it up, but I figured I could catch it on line today or even later this week. Then when I saw the questions being asked, displayed at the bottom of the screen, I was even more tempted to turn it up. They seemed like great, straightforward questions, and hearing the answers would have been fantastic. “Still,” I told myself, “if I turn it up I will have to stop what I am doing to pay attention for who-knows-how-long, and I can always see it online later.”

Well, I have yet to find it online. Can someone out there help me?

The more I have read about it today, the more I wish I had actually watched it last night.

Before commenting further, I should say a couple of things, perhaps. First, I do not vote. This voluntary abstention is rooted in my religious faith about the role in life’s events to which God has called me and the non-participation pact Jesus Christ expects of His followers. If you happen to be reading this and are not in my church (or some of those related to it), you are likely to disagree much with this, but that’s the way it is. Members of the Living Church of God are not political and do not get involved with politics — at least from the point of view of trying to create political outcomes. We do speak on the issues of the day and do (heartily!) declare what God’s word has to say about them — as well as what the issues have to say about the state of the world. And we often follow politics closely — not only because the results affect our lives greatly, but because knowing the things prophecy has to say about the times we live in almost compels a person to watch closely! But we do not participate in the political process.

The second thing is that I am not a Rick Warren fan. I am impressed with the success of his The Purpose-Driven X series. And I can admire the principle of living a Purpose Driven Live — and have preached about it on TV, myself — but you have to know the purpose of life in order to do it right. Mr. Warren is missing some important pieces in this regard, to say the least. (I have other issues, as well, but it is not necessary to list them here.)

These things said, the Saddleback Civil Forum with Senators John McCain and Barack Obama seems to me as if it were a breath of fresh air in political discussion. The questions (at least those I saw on the screen and those I have read about) were fantastic, and I hope that there are more such “take turns” discussions in the future. If some are worried that the evangelical crowd at Saddleback was too “right-leaning” (and I don’t know how the composition of the crowd; though tickets were apparently made available to the public, I would think that they leaned towards evangelicals and so-called “values voters”), then perhaps the ACLU or AFL-CIO could sponsor similar forums.

If they did, I would hope that they would show the same civility that Mr. Warren did in his questioning. I must say his questions seemed to me to avoid a “gotcha” quality that some might have expected from such a moderator with Warren’s slant and following. Of course some might say that asking any question about abortion or religious sentiment or homosexual “marriage” or taxation or stem-cell research qualifies as a “gotcha” question in one way or another — but following such logic would prevent discussion of literally any of the great questions of our time, and puts himself in a ridiculous position concerning pre-election political discourse. Frankly, I have been impressed with the quality of the questions I have heard on the radio and read in various places. (I was not as impressed with the quality of the all the responses: some were fantastic, while some where of the “huh?” variety. But I will keep the details of those opinions to myself. I will simply say that some answers were definitely more “presidential” than others…)

Again, does anyone know where I can find online video of the Saddleback Forum?

I’ll trade you! Here are some links that I have come across with opinion and analysis:

At CNN: Analysis: Same tough questions, different approaches
(note: links to video comments and analysis also present in the article)

At the WSJ: Obama on Clarence Thomas
(note: this link focuses on Senator Obama’s response concerning Justice Thomas… as if the title did not give that away…)

At CBS: Obama at Saddleback
(note: this comment seems to be the only one I came across more positive about Senator Obama’s performance than it is about Senator McCain’s)

At NRO: How McCain Won Saddleback
(note: conservative site; you decide if the coverage is biased or not…)

As I indicated above, the analysis out there generally seems to be that Senator McCain came out on top. If you disagree or have seen a worthwhile analysis that would say otherwise, feel free and let me know. But more importantly, is there anywhere online that I can watch the whole thing? (Or is CNN going to replay it a second time, since I missed my chance Sunday night?)

[EDIT #1, 8/18/2008: Thanks to Claire’s helpful comment below, I now have video of the forum on my computer just waiting for me to watch! I might do so on out trip this week to Chicago (though, not while I am driving!). Thanks, Claire!]

[EDIT #2, 8/19/2008: In the comments below, Adam asked me for more details about why I do not participate in politics. I thought the easiest thing to do might be to point to a post from last year that discusses my thoughts on that and related matters: “My struggle with the word ‘pacifist’.” Hopefully, the discussion in that post (which is a bit long) will help to answer that. However, it would probably be a good topic to return to later, especially as the election draws near.]

10 thoughts on “Missed (Regrettably) the Saddleback Civil Forum

  1. I do suspect that you are right, johninii, from all I have read. (The CBS fellow linked to above seemed to be doing some wishful thinking, methinks.) I just wish I could say so because I actually watched it myself. If this forum in any way is considered (after the dust settles post-election) to have had an impact on people’s thinking, I would suspect that there will be more forums like this in the future.

  2. Claire

    because i enjoyed it so much i wanted to help you out. go to cnn.com and type in saddleback forum in the search engine. choose cnn video’s and click search. it is split up into 4 different segments. Enjoy!

  3. Well, thank you, thank you, thank you Claire! I found them just as you described! While I don’t have the time now to watch them all, I think I can use one of my Firefox plug ins to download them as flash videos and watch tomorrow.

    Thanks, again! Next time I miss something, I’ll know who to call. 🙂

  4. I just happened to be browsing through some stuff and I cam across your post. I have a question that has absolutely nothing to do with the forum but it does have something to do with what you wrote in your posts.

    How come you don’t vote? What is your reasoning behind this? Do you have a biblical reason or just a conviction? You mention a non-participation pact that Jesus expects of His followers? What is this?

    Do you mind explaining?

  5. Howdy, Adam, and thanks for your question. Glad you browsed by! 🙂

    On one hand, I’m really pressed for time at the moment, for three out of town trips that will consume me from today through this weekend. On the other hand, I don’t want to leave your comment hanging in Moderation Limbo.

    So, I hope you will forgive me this cheat… I have addressed the question of my not participating in politics in more detail in another post from last year: “My struggle with the word ‘pacifist’.” If you have the time to check it out, it will explain my position with more detail. Even though the post is only related tangentially to the topic of political participation, I do discuss it there, as the principles are related to the broader post that day. So, feel free to click on the link above (or this one!) and check it out.

    [EDIT: Come to think of it, you may not be the only one with that question, so I think I will add a link to that post at the end of this one. Thanks again for asking! — WS]

  6. rakkav

    Hi Mr. Smith,

    GodTube sent out an interesting e-mail to subscribers (of which I am one), with a list of mostly “faith-based” (yet politically relevant) questions asked each candidate during the Forum and links to the answers each candidate gave. I’ve just sent you a copy of the e-mail. (I don’t think you need to be a subscriber to view the links, but I could be wrong.) Between what you’ve already been sent and this e-mail, you should be covered now. 😀

    יוחנן רכב

  7. rakkav

    GodTube has kindly broken up the two-hour Forum into bite-sized pieces that can be discussed individually by subscribers, but again I don’t think you need to be a subscriber to view the videos:


    One thing I liked in the opening video: Pastor Warren says “we” are for the separation of church and state, but not the separation of faith and politics. Everyone has a faith — a worldview — and it’s important for voters to know what a presidential candidate’s worldview is.

    יוחנן רכב

  8. Patsy Annis


    I fell across your website some months ago and have been following sporadically. Enjoyed you so much at the Feast last year and just wanted to let you know how nice it is to feel like I still have a Feast contact! Keep up the good work!

    We’re going to Sunset Beach this year — economics!! May you and your family have great Holy Days and Feast experiences.


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