Yeah, that homoerotic love of Jesus thing
Oh, Rev. Ted........
To my knowledge, no one has remarked on the most bizarre aspect of the interview Ted Haggard gave yesterday, during which the pastor admitted he had purchased meth (but not consumed it) and contacted a male prostitute for a massage (strictly legit--no "happy ending"): its surreal, suburban informality. When Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart confessed sin and transgression, it was pure camp psycho-melodrama, tears flowing during the prostrations for forgiveness, Swaggart's chins and lips trembling as he underwent Elmer Gantry meltdown before his congregation and the television camera. Haggard, however, might have returned from shooting a round of golf, he was so matter-of-fact. There he was, sitting in the driveway outside his house, seatbelt fastened, admitting to purchasing meth (not a trifling matter for an evangelical leader) and arranging a massage as if shooting the breeze with a neighbor. The genial lack of affect was fascinating. And I presume the woman sitting in the passenger's seat was his wife--what did she make of all this? Five children, a prominent place in the community, and her husband is copping to buying meth out of curiosity. Once you're arranging drug buys and massages with male prostitutes, I think we've moved beyond the curiosity stage. Today one of the cable news outfits ran an interview with one of Haggard's closest friends and associates, and if it's possible to be so gay you don't even know you're gay, he would have been people's exhibit #1. He said Jesus's name as if it were the most delicious lozenge imaginable.
The humid mind of the male evangelical can be a hotbed of homoeroticism and gushy sentiment. Blogger Steve Schalchlin writes [hat tip: David Ehrenstein]:
The magnetic hold that the born-again Bush has on certain susceptible men (Tony Blair) is a man crush masquerading as spiritual affinity. Consider the opening graf of Alan Wolfe's brilliant dissection in The New Republic of David Kuo's naive, noodly memoir Tempting Faith:
"Seductive yet pure"--such a potent combo, a heady, musky perfume for evangelical men suffering a cognitive disorder about the nature of their own sexuality. Kuo's love of Bush was just his love of Jesus given a deeper tan.
The cult of masculinity to which too many evangelical men subscribe can never bring happiness or peace because it doesn't resolve the inner conflicts and forces them to inhabit a public shell that can easily crack. Steven Schalchlin suggests that such men lighten up on themselves, shed their false armor, take a cue from some of the rest of us.
Update: From Dan Savage via Atrios: Pastor Mark Driscoll offers handy tips on how to keep those pastoral weiners from wandering.
posted by Steve @ 1:12:00 AM