It's more than a little surreal to be back in the familiar confines of Orange County, staying in the comfortable Marriott Courtyard, walking the plush walkways of the beautiful Saddleback church and talking so much about a chronic and often fatal disease that is without question, the greatest crisis in history. Today's snack spread in the courtyard between sessions probably would have put Martha Stewart to shame...the only thing truly missing being good coffee, but probably they have some kind of secret deal with Starbucks where the church agrees to serve substandard coffee in order to not threaten the corporate giant. This is Orange County after all, the capital of Big Business and conservative politics.
There was an article today in the OC Register about some of the controversy generated by Rick and Kay Warren's invitation of Obama last year to the summit and Senator Clinton at this year's. The piece mentioned that a new(er) generation of christian leaders may no longer be using abortion and gar rights issues as a litmus test for who is acceptable to work with. I say Amen to that, if it really is true. One thing I know to be true, as was mentioned by Steve Haas this morning...a lot of defrosting needs to take place in the hearts of our church communities so that we can begin to look beyond the stigma of AIDS and start to minister to people not statistics, regardless of how they got the disease. It's kind of amazing that the church has made such a big deal out of how people get sick with HIV/AIDS. In fact, I can almost bet you that a lifestyle of drug use and smoking could get you lung cancer and few, if any, people would ask you how you got it. If you've got AIDS, it has seemed to me, people care about whether you got it from sex, homosexual sex, or drug use. Which is kind of unfair considering the number one killer in America is heart disease and we know that disease is largely preventable if we'd eat better and exercise more.