Sunday, November 05, 2006

Weighing in on the recent scandal

After reading and following the recent scandal/fall of Pastor Ted Haggard I confess I have alot of mixed emotions on numerous fronts. I first came across Ted Haggard while watching a PBS program on materialism called Affluenza years ago. During the program Pastor Haggard spoke eloquently about the need for people to spend more time with their families and less time chasing the almighty dollar but he did so without sounding pious or judgmental,imo. Personally I am saddened to hear that apparently pastor Haggard has been "thrown under the bus" for his failing to live up to his ideals and the expectations of others. As someone, who is not above reproach in such matters as these, and has felt thrown under the bus at one time in my own past, it is a dark place to be...and...it must be incredibly painful for his family and those close to him. Personally, I am not particularly interested in the details regarding what "exactly" happened because I suspect,at this time, Pastor Haggard has neither the ability or the motivation to come clean. Why throw gasoline on yourself when you are already on fire? There will come a time when Haggard will need to come clean, for the sake of himself and his family, but I don't think the time is now and I don't think he owes anything to the media at this point...so...I am content to conclude that Haggard screwed up, big time, he knows it...and.... will probably pay for his failings, in one form or another, for the rest of his life.

As I listen to this story from a variety of different angles ranging from bloggers to the national media I can't help thinking about the circumstances that contribute to such tragic situations. I don't mean to imply that Haggard doesn't bear personal responsibility for his actions but I also personally believe that behavior does not happen in a vacuum. Why do people who seem to have everything together and such prestige take such great risks?...and...what role if any, does society play in creating an environment where people risk everything that is important to them for momentary pleasure?...and...what role, if any, does the Christian sub-culture play?...I have felt, for some time now, that the Christian sub-culture makes it very, very difficult for people who struggle with sexual identity issues, and sexuality in general, to get the proper help and perspective on sex that they need which is why most Christians within the sub-culture generally go "underground" with their struggles....I make no assertions about what may have caused Haggard to risk it all but I suspect there may be many layers that need to be peeled back in the days,weeks, or years to come before Haggard experiences the healing and peace that he apparently needs and is probably seeking...Postscript...I know that much of what I have said may sound too empathetic for a man who was leading the charge for a law that was opposed by the homosexual community which makes him a hypocrite...and...that of course, cannot nor shouldn't be swept under the rug...but as I said at the beginning, I have such mixed emotions about this story because "it is" a tragic story on a number of different fronts and I can't help thinking about the paradox between mercy, forgiveness, judgement, and taking personal responsibilitity for our own behavior....and....how we all will at one time, to one degree or another, find ourselves in a situation where we will "hope" for mercy, rather than paying the price for what we probably deserve....

2 comments:

Dave said...

Bilbo, I appreciate your wisdom and compassion in regarding Ted Haggard as a real person, not a blame-worthy figurehead or symbol of hypocrisy. There are a lot of different angles and perspectives to consider in all this - but on the human-to-human level I think it is very valuable and important to keep in front of us the fact that a lot of people have been hurt and are presently suffering quite an unpleasant disruption to what they thought they could rely upon as the aftershocks continue to rumble... Even after a couple of days of pretty steady thinking about all of this, I still find myself shaking my head wondering just how it ever got to this point...

Bilbo said...

Hi Dave,

One of the things that I have learned through my own trials and tribulations over the last ten years is that there are often a number of angles and layers to the stories of our lives. And, the media, bloggers, and everyone else simply do not have access to what makes people tick which is why, imo, we should always withold judgement. I don't have a problem with people questioning or criticizing the actions of others but, too often, imo, people are too quick to pass judgement and throw their fellow human being "under the bus" before they either have all the facts or any kind of understanding of the context of the situation...Like you I have to "shake my head and wonder how it got to this point" but I suspect Ted Haggard has been a tortured soul for some time. I do not mean to criticize or imply anything by making this suggestion but only propose that the demons that haunt our souls from within and outside never rest until they are exorcised... and... that generally requires a significant amount of exploration into the various layers of the human experience which is something most people never take the time to do until they are forced to by a personal crisis...Just my take on things....