Saturday's Washington Post carried the latest installment of Sally Quinn's occasional humor columns about "faith." In truth, the pieces aren't supposed to be funny and have nothing to do with faith, but Quinn has a knack for being incongruous. The self-proclaimed Washington Insider combines a doyenne's nosiness with a teeny-bopper's vapidity to produce musings that are at once deeply shallow. Herewith her latest delight:
Along with speculation on what kind of puppy Sasha and Malia will choose, where the kids will go to school (it's Sidwell Friends), and, oh yes, who will be appointed to the White House staff and the Cabinet, the matter of where the Obamas will choose to worship is drawing a lot of interest in Washington and elsewhere.
"A lot of interest?" Well, not really. But let's play along anyways.
"I would like to recommend Washington National Cathedral," offers Quinn. Why? Oh, the reasons are many! For starters, the cathedral "sits atop a hill overlooking all of Washington," has "beckoning towers," "exquisite stone carvings," and beautiful stained-glass windows. It also "transcends politics and even the separation of religions."
Last year was the 100th anniversary of Washington National Cathedral. It was celebrated for an entire year, with the theme being reconciliation. Archbishop Desmond Tutu flew in from South Africa to kick off the large anniversary dinner. The church spent a week considering the subject of racial reconciliation, with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) delivering a Sunday sermon and playing a key role. There have been large conferences on gender and equality, with participation by women's advocacy groups from this country and the developing world.
But wait, there's more!
The cathedral sponsors programs on interfaith dialogue with Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Bahais and people of other faiths. Former president Mohammad Khatami of Iran attended a Christian-Muslim-Judaic conference there in 2006. Twice a year there is an Abrahamic roundtable with Bishop John Chane, Rabbi Bruce Lustig and professor Akbar Ahmed.... On Nov. 12, Deepak Chopra, a Hindu, spoke there to a packed house."
In short, Quinn suggests the Obamas pick their church based on anything but faith. Because in Quinn's world, worshiping is like attending a cocktail party without cocktails: The best gatherings boast A-list guests, a pretty house, a polite dose of politics, and no religion.
In quick order—and mindful that I'm dangerously close to approximating Quinnanity—here are my suggestions. First, as the Episcopal national cathedral, the well-meaning souls who run it might spend more time reconciling themselves to the deeply ruptured Episcopalian faith rather than hosting stylish, hypocritical blah-fests. Second, if the Obamas take their faith seriously, then they should worship at whatever church they like. And last, Sally Quinn should butt out.