George Graham

Watching TV News is Bad for My Mental Health

Those TV talking heads almost had me this time! They almost made me mad at Barack Obama. In fact I was all set to fire off a blog blasting the President-elect. And it wasn’t until I read Lee Stranahan’s piece in The Huffington Post yesterday that I realized my anger was based on incomplete information.

warrenHere’s what got my dander up: CNN and MSNBC both reported that “progressives” were mad at Obama for inviting Rev. Rick Warren (photo at right) to give the invocation at his inauguration. The reason for their ire? Warren supported California’s Proposition 8, the recently passed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. And according to the TV news, Warren had compared gay couples to creeps like child molesters.

Now, I don’t like Rick Warren. And it’s not just because I think he’s a bigot who is trying to undermine the Constitutional separation of Church and State. I don’t like him because he’s much too unctuous. And too fat. I prefer religious leaders who look more like Mahatma Gandhi… you know acetic and ethereal, with glowing eyes and sunken cheeks… seekers after truth… forsakers of fleshly delights… that kind of thing.

I think it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a well-fed millionaire like Warren to get into Heaven. But that’s just me. Apparently thousands – maybe millions – of Americans prefer pastors who are fat… sleek-headed men… men who sleep at night (my apologies to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar).

Anyway, I suspected Obama of pandering to those people. And that was what made me mad. But what the TV talking heads didn’t tell me was that Warren wasn’t going to be the only pastor on stage at the inauguration. When I read Stranahan’s article defending Obama’s invitation to Warren, I found out that the President-elect had invited Joseph Lowery to give the benediction.

loweryDr. Lowery (photo at right) supports same-sex marriage, but that’s not what impresses me most. He is an icon of the Civil Rights Movement in America. Born Oct. 6, 1921 in Huntsville, Alabama, he helped lead the Montgomery bus boycott after Rosa Parks’ arrest in 1955. He headed the Alabama Civic Affairs Association, an organization devoted to the desegregation of buses and public places. In 1957, with Martin Luther King Jr., he founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and subsequently led the organization as its president from 1977 to 1997.

At King’s request, Lowery led the Selma-to-Montgomery march in 1965. Co-founder and former president of the Black Leadership Forum, he protested against Apartheid in South Africa. And he was among the first African American protesters arrested at the South African Embassy in Washington DC.  The City of Atlanta renamed Ashby Street in his honor. And in 2004 he was honored at the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta.

In view of the fact that Dr. Lowery will be on that stage, I guess I can’t be too mad at the President-elect for having Rev. Warren there, too. I suppose Obama thinks it only fair to give the Other Side equal time.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for