No delight in Haggard
“Never let the audience feel sorry for a heckler.”That is an old show-biz adage that suggests an entertainer should never mock a rude member of the audience to the point where the spectators feel more sympathy for the jerk in the crowd than the performer on stage. When you do this, you can often actually feel the crowd turning against you. After all, it really isn’t a fair fight: You have the stage and a microphone, and the heckler is usually drunk. The truth is, most of us feel even a jerk is deserving of some compassion. That being said, I’d place the disgraced minister Ted Haggard in the role of the impaired heckler and the media as the overzealous comedian with the microphone.For those who haven’t been following the story, Rev. Haggard, husband, father of five, one of the most powerful evangelists in America, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, has allegedly carried on a three-year sexual tryst with a male prostitute while enjoying a fondness for crystal meth. He has admitted some of those allegations and have been dismissed from his church and resigned from an international group of evangelists of which he was president. At first I was delighted by the hypocrisy of one of the most powerful evangelists in the world, a vocal proponent of family values, opponent of gay-rights, was exposed as a fraud. I pored through old footage featuring the good reverend preaching the evils of homosexuality and boasting of his close personal relationship with God. Like many who consider themselves spiritual, I am suspicious of those who have gotten rich on Jesus. It is only natural when those who make a living claiming to speak for the Almighty telling us how to live and who to love – Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, Ted Haggard – are found to be less than anointed, we delight in their disgrace. Liberals (myself included), the media and gay-rights activists were gleeful at yet another social conservative exposed as not living the life they preach. We had hardly gotten over the Foley affair, leading up to Election Day, when this latest circus rolled into town. I can only speak for myself when I say my tune has changed; I feel terribly sorry for this wretch.Here’s a man who has probably had homosexual inclinations his entire life. But rather than accept himself and look for love and companionship with a person of his choosing; he has lived a life of deceit and self-loathing shame. I can only believe that the scorn we hold for him as a hypocrite is a fraction of that what he feels for himself. And, when you factor in the devastation of his wife and five children into the equation, I now feel no joy in Haggard’s disgrace.What I would deem Rev. Haggard’s biggest sin is perpetuating the myth that God expects us to be anything other than who we are created to be. I would venture to guess that if we are compassionate, and loving to our fellow humans the Lord couldn’t care less if we attend church or marry monkeys. I shudder to think of the thousands of others who, over the years, have heard his message that to be anything other than straight, conservative and Christian is against the laws of God and nature. The truth is that Rev. Ted, you, me, or all the priests and pastors alive can only guess what God truly wants of us. “Priests (Pastors) are no more necessary to religion than politicians to patriotism.”Ted Haggard’s crime wasn’t his sins but rather his self-righteous denial of the human condition. He should have preached a message of acceptance and that means, first and foremost, accepting ourselves.As far as I can make out, Jesus didn’t come to earth to tell us how to live but more to teach us how to love. Both liberals and conservative would be well served to keep that in mind.Jeffrey Bergeron under the alias of Biff America can be seen on RSN TV, heard on KOA radio, and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at Backcountrymagazine.com. Vail, Colorado
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