Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Writing Ted Haggard

[Posted by reader_iam]

Christopher at Bending the Rule:
I distrust moralizing. Moralizing isn’t about character or how one develops character, it’s about hiding one’s own imperfections and failures and insecurities by projecting all of the problems of the world onto this or that vice, this or that group of human beings, making oneself righteous. Moralizing is about “us” versus “them”, “good” versus “evil” human beings, when the truth is we are all an “us”, a mixtum of virtue and vice. The true saint is the first to admit himself the worst sinner, the least virtuous, the most vicious.
So yes, the Rev. Ted Haggard is hypocritical. But it is the rare gay man who has not been at some point in his life. This is changing among the generation that follows C and I, at least in some locales, but I cannot get up on a high horse and pretend I’ve never been a hyprocrite when I was in the closet. I cannot pretend that I didn’t say or do things that were anti-gay. Indeed, at another point in my life, I would have agreed with Mr. Haggard’s policies. The pain of rupture that comes with coming out or being outed is enormous, and I don’t see many offering a sign of care.

I have to ask the gay community, but most especially gay Christians (myself included) which virtues we wish to cultivate in the face of oppression and vicious attacks, and which virtues we wish to cultivate so that the community we offer is one that will offer soft landing for the McGreevy’s, the Foley’s, the Haggard’s, and so many more who will follow. Every time another public figure is outed as a man who loves men, do we raise our fingers in self-righteous finger-pointing or do we extend a hand of kindness and support, offer a place of safety and shelter amidst the painful turmoil? In other words, are we working to cultivate personally and communally the virtues of hospitality, generosity, magnanimity, and forgiveness.
From the letter I'll send off this week: ...

Christopher humbles me, and he always has. Even when I've disagreed with him, I always come away from encounters with him more thoughtful, more mindful ... just more, somehow. I think this is mostly because he seems so determined to maintain the struggle against the human temptation to make "Others" seem less, and by that I mean all sorts of "Others." And I have seen him, in the most heated and touchy of discussions maintain his dignity and and that of those most bitterly opposed to whatever his take on the topic at hand.

Go read what he has to say, including the text of his letter to Ted Haggard--and, if you can, with a measure of the same sort of humility that he demonstrates.