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Monday, November 06, 2006

Yeah, that homoerotic love of Jesus thing

Oh, Rev. Ted........

Of Mice and Meth

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]:

One of the aspects I find among those who "follow the ex-gay path" is how erotically they speak of Jesus. Jesus, in effect, becomes their new gay lover who holds them in His arms. They constantly write about how they no longer "need" gay sex because they are too busy "loving Jesus" in ways they usually describe that are more erotic that the most steamy novel you can buy at the cut-out bin at Wal-Mart.

Another thing to note is that evangelicals, for the most part, do not believe that homosexuality, as an orientation, actually exists. For them, ALL "homosexuals" are actually heterosexuals who've been either seduced into gay sex or fallen into it because they got demasculinized by women (or driven to it by a desire for eternal boyhood)...

Their total denial of the FACT of homosexual persons is what drives men like Ted Haggard into a marriage, and then, subsequently, into the arms of a male hustler. The drugs, IMO, were not only about enhancing the sex act itself, but they also enabled him, in those hours alone with the muscle guy, to forget the wife and kids and career as a gay-hatin' leading light of the evangelical movement.

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:

Tempting Faith is the story of how David Kuo, an unassuming if ambitious young man, discovered the wonder-filled joy flowing from devotion to a force more powerful than himself. I don't mean that he found God, although Kuo, by his own account, first encountered Jesus in high school. When Kuo tells us how he got "hooked," the object of his reverence lived not in Nazareth, but in Austin. "He seemed not just charming, but weighty, seductive yet pure, likeable but mysterious," he writes of his first meeting with then-governor George W. Bush. "I couldn't tell whether his disclosures were private revelations to someone he liked or just part of a pitch to someone he might need. I didn't much care. I loved him."

"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.

The most manly heterosexual men I know embrace a strong woman, love their gay friends, and delight at the prospect of being a human among equals. [That sounds like me to a T!] They aren't afraid of having lost their manliness because the woman they married might actually have some brains. [It's as if he's got me in his viewfinder!] They feel empowered when they are able to talk to their gay friends about intimate male issues. [I don't know know about that. Let's not go crazy here.] I have a straight friend now who asks me about male grooming and other intimate areas because he feels he can't discuss these things with any straight men). [Oh, grooming tips. That's different. Carry on.]

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

1:12:00 AM

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