Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Yes, but will it play in Peoria?

In the wake of a scandalous November, the Christian Coalition says no to broadening its agenda.

It's bad enough that Ted Haggard is no longer president of the NAE, especially after trying to include environmental stewardship amongst the priorities of the association. (If you'll recall, Colson, Dobson and a few others raised enough ruckus to quash the move.) But now Joel Hunter, the president-elect of the Christian Coalition, is stepping down after having his own push to fight poverty and global warming rejected by the Coalition.

Hunter is the pastor of an evangelical megachurch in Longwood, Florida, who recently wrote an editorial in the Orlando Sentinel reflecting on the direction evangelicals should take post-Ted Haggard. He called for an evangelical commitment to all pro-life issues, writing: "We need to be taking care of God's creation, empowering the poor in our own communities and making sure the vulnerable who can't speak for themselves have our voice and vote." Especially pointed words in a Florida where thousands still claim their votes weren't counted in the 2000 election. But the Christian Coalition would have none of it.

Roberta Combs, outgoing president of the Coalition, said, "We'’re a political organization, and there'’s a way to do things, like taking a survey of your members and seeing what they need. Joel had a different way of doing things, so he just went out there." Not unlike a certain Jewish carpenter I remember reading about somewhere. Could this be what Christ was doing during those "lost" years? Performing market research and hosting focus groups before he began his public ministry? One can only hope.

All snarkiness aside, the Christian Coalition is no doubt a political organization, more fundamentalist than evangelical, and has every right to pick a president that follows the company line. Maybe the Council's agenda, brought down from the mountain by founder James Dobson, needs to remain narrow in order to properly affect a minority Republican Congress. Or maybe they have a sneaking suspicious that evangelical leaders who care about climate change run the risk of being meth-addicted, closet homosexuals. Whatever the case, it really is a shame that the major evangelical organizations in America are so slow to embrace change in the face of growing concern among their members for social justice and environmental stewardship. According to early reports, one in three white evangelicals voted Democrat this fall. Those numbers ought to say something to the Christian Coalition and the National Association of Evangelicals, namely that evangelicals are not pollitically monolithic, and that their concerns, especially among the young, affluent megachurch community, are not the same as the generation that grew up venerating Jim Dobson.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Theological Haikus #3.1-3.2

Why to (still) be evangelical:

We are giving thanks,
Ted Haggard too, smiling in
spite of our mistakes.

Knowing grace like bears
know nuts and fruits and, on oc-
casion, human flesh.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Booyah! or Make a Joyful Noise Here! or Give Thanks Ye Trees of Plenty!

Happy news! Happy noise! Happy feet! Giving thanks!

For all those in Chicago, the Danielson Famile movie is playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center on December 10th and 14th. This is Chicago's second chance for a screening, because I guess it played somewhere last August, too. If you don't go see it, I may murder you with my lovingkindness, which is everlasting and sugar-free. If you do see it, sneak in a camera phone and record it for me.

This is the trailer.

p.s. Dusty, did you see this at Cornerstone? If so, will you videotape yourself reenacting it for the rest of us until it comes out on DVD? You're a pal! Thanks.

Deerfoot Lodge

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

coolest baby ever

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Friends are Friends forever...if one doesn't turn out to be addicted to meth and homosexual massages

It appears that Christian friendship and accountability only goes so far.

Whether or not he is telling the truth, James Dobson's recent statement regarding Ted Haggard is nothing but bad news.

Dobson has decided not to participate in Ted Haggard's "restoration process."

"It is with great regret -- and after much prayer and discussion with friends and family -- that I have had to reconsider my involvement in the panel overseeing Ted's restoration. Emotionally and spiritually, I wanted to be of help -- but the reality is I don't have the time to devote to such a critical responsibility. Ted and his family will be better served by someone whose energies and attention are not tugged on in quite so many directions."

If he's telling the truth he is unwilling to help a good friend and fellow Christian leader who he believes has been essential to the furthering of the Gospel because he doesn't have the time. Wow. If he's not telling the truth he has decided to not help Haggard because Dobson doesn't want to spend time with people who may or may not be at least kind of gay. In either case, I was actually sadder to hear about this than anything in the situation so far. Jimmy James is not helping me picture him as the friendly grandfather of evangelicalism here. Congratulations Dobson, I hope that your Focus on the Family image and income is left in tact now that you've distanced yourself from your friend who has hit rock bottom. I'm sure that Jesus would have bailed had he found out that one of his disciples had done drugs and fooled around with another guy...


In other Haggard related things, I have been looking over the possible books that Haggard may have written under the influence of Meth and gay sex. The story is that Haggard first got mixed up in all of this while staying at a hotel while writing. Assuming that this is true and that it has been going on for three years, there are three books written by Pastor Ted during this time.

Foolish No More! is applying Paul's letter to the Galatians to contemporary Christians. I think John and Lisa Bevere put it best when they say, "
“Honestly, who wants to be stupid…let alone foolish?" So true. Dr. Clive Calver may be feeling pretty foolish whenever he sees his blurb on Foolish No More! "Ted Haggard is one of those very rare people who can be relied upon to ‘say it like it is.’"

Second, you have From This Day Forward, the ironic book by Ted and his wife Gayle about the meaning and importance of the Christian wedding ceremony.

Finally, there is The Pursuit of the Good Life. While I originally thought this may be an allusion to ancient Greek philosophical ethics wherein sex with young men was considered one aspect of pursuing the good life, I have come to find out that in this book, "Using the tabernacle of Moses, Ted Haggard shows how God has invited us into His presence and given us a road map to becoming competent Christians."

Which parts of these books were written under the influence of meth or just before calling for a massage? It looks like we'll have to wait for Haggard's next book, Gay No More!: How I was restored from homosexual activity and drug addiction no thanks to that SOB James Dobson.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Mark Driscoll Blames Women...

This is taken from Zach Lind's blog (the drummer from Jimmy Eat World) about what Mark Driscoll had to say about this Haggard situation. If you recall Driscoll's the guy who said some really horrible things about McLaren and Padgitt earlier this year... I'm too lazy to write about this myself... here's from Lind's post

Because he’s such a swell guy, Mark Driscoll has taken upon himself, in response to the Ted Haggard scandal, to share some “practical suggestions” on his personal blog as a way of encouraging young church leaders to avoid the pitfalls of sexual immorality. One of his suggestions is the following:

Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Jonny Rice For NAE el Presidente!

I'm officially throwing my hat into the ring, ladies and gentlemen. Congratulations, Evangelical America, you're having the Best Week Ever!

In top secret phone conversations with J.S., I mentioned how I really didn't care that much if Ted Haggard was gay, or even just bi-curious. It was as much a blip on my "holy crap radar!" as last week's outing when that one guy who plays George an Grey's Anatomy (who I get confused with that other one guy who played Jonathan on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) came out of the closet. As for my official position, I'm inclined to believe that this was Ted's first and only sexual encounter(s) with another man, and that he's probably been a very confused individual since it happened. I guess I'm so used to hypocrisy from famous leaders that I expect it as the norm (rather than the exception). I'm rooting for him to pull through, and if not write an awesome fall-from-grace bestseller, at the very least see him sign up for a Myspace and record his journey back from the dead. In other words, Ted Haggard, you've got a friend in me.

That being said, NAE board chair Roy Taylor told Christianity Today, "We hope to have an announcement next week as to who would be an interim president. And then the executive committee will consider a recommendation to the entire board for the future as to whether we continue with our more recent arrangement with a president who's primarily a spokesman or if we will go back to having a full-time president." Which brings yours truly into the picture.

I will be your next president, NAE. I am still mostly an evangelical. My church attendance has been spotty since college, but I bet D.L. Moody's was too! I'm down with divine inspiration, I think God has knowledge of future events, I don't speak in tongues, and I can quote Psalm chapter 1 by heart thanks to my many years at Freedom Farm Christian School (where Christianity Today was thought to be a "liberal" publication). So you see, I can bridge the divide between the fundamentalists and the evangelical left! There's reconciliation flowing through these veins! And no drugs! Plus, I've never had sex! With a chick or a dude!

In other words, I am something like 67% holy. Which, in today's world, is pretty freaking amazing. I will clean up the corruption in Colorado Springs. I will cut taxes for working class Americans. I will bring our troops home. I will balance the budget, halt reckless government spending, provide universal health coverage, rebuild our schools, hire more teachers/police officers, find and kill the terrorists, rescind the Patriot Act, drive out the foreigners, build huge fucking fences, restore integrity back to Congress, make our teenagers virgins again, wipe away every tear, and forecast infinite consecutive quarters of hot economic growth. A vote for Rice is a vote for dreams come true!

Vote Jonny Rice this November. Together, we can build a brighter tomorrow so that the sun can provide us with energy dependence from foreign oil and our cars can run on banana peels and the fevered dreams of Sudanese orphans. Thank you.

(No one paid for this ad because it's on teh internets and you are powerless to stop me foolish, boot-licking FCC dog-soldiers who kowtow to Stephen Spielberg's R-rated movies even though there are much better filmmakers producing much better films which more richly deserve to be aired unedited on network TV but won't because they didn't start out making freaking ET or whatever the hell it was that made you love him so much in the first place.)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ted Haggard is probably just sort of gay (i.e. kinky and sex crazed) AND in desperate need of a new publicist

Three things that Ted Haggart and his publicist need to realize about awesome lies, half confessions, and being gay.

1. This secondary admission of guilt is not particularly believable: "I did buy meth from that male prostitute, I took it home, but I threw it out and did not take it." In fact, if Pastor Ted was aware of the baseball steroids issues he would know that statements like this scream guilt of TAKING drugs, not just getting them and having them around.

What he should have said is that he did not just take some but that he took so much that he was in an altered state of mind for three years. Conveniently, this would cover up whatever sexual acts he may or may not have had as well as providing an easy out of all the really terrible things he has said and done the past few years. More on this later, in my forthcoming Ted Haggart profile blog post (coming soon).

2. If you are accused of paying for sex, the absolute last thing you should say is that all you did was receive a massage. Anyone who is anyone knows that massage is code for paying for sex. I remember when the asian massage place by the Holiday Inn in Montpelier, OH got shut down when I was in high school. That's when I learned about this. Anyone who ever sees the newspaper, has ever been on Craig's List, or driven by an airport know that paying for sex is illegal, paying for massages is legal. So if you pay for a massage, hit it off with the Masseur, and they decide to perform a range of sexual acts on you, well...just consider it all included. Also, someone should tell Pastor Ted and his publicist that asking a man if he wants a massage or asking a hotel clerk if he can refer someone for a massage is often enough code for gay sex. Often, coming right out and asking a man if he wants to have sex or asking someone if they know of any good prostitutes is too forward, so massage is code.

On the phone Jonny suggested that maybe Ted did really just want a massage, wasn't aware of the "ways of the world," and as such was probably surprised, apparently pleasently, by what ended up happening. While I don't believe Ted is so naive, this is the perfect line for Ted to take in his admission of guilt. While he could easily partner this with the altered states of consciousness argument proposed above, he could also say that he was ashamed by the pleasure he took in the original accidental/massive miscomunication "full service massage" he received and so he never said anything to anyone. He could even get his friend Dr. Dobson to give him some psychological explination of pleasure and guilt and why he would be drawn into some sort of pleasure/guilt routine with the guy.

3. While just partial admissions may seem like the best line of action at this point, Ted and his publicist need to have some forsight. Eventually Pastor Ted has to realize that no one cares about the guy who probably did solicit a male prostitute while constantly decrying the moral depravity of homosexuals. BUT there is an absolute cash-cow, bring 'em down to the alter, redemption sermon/book deal/new ministry waiting just a few years down the road. If I were his publicist I would have Ted do some meth right now, then come out and say it is all true, he has been living two lives and is addicted to drugs and to sex. Then you have him go away for a while, get drug treatment, meet with all of the evangelical "make gays straight" people. Then he patches up his wife. Then he writes the book about how Jesus delivered him from a life of torrid gay sex and drug use. He's probably not getting his church back and will definately not be the head of the NAE but he will surely make some cash, change some lives, and get on TV, which is what he was probably after all along anyway.

I will spend my day off this weekend reviewing some old Ted Haggart stuff, specifically an article in Harper's that I referenced on here a couple of years ago. I want to write more about Dr. Dobson's changing statements about his friend (going from a complete denial of the claims to his now softened statement that sure sounds like Ted called and confessed some things). But for now, check out these links which don't always deal with the hard news of this and more with the absurdity of it all.

1. This is from the SFGate Blog and is scathingly funny and, most importantly, has links to Haggart's conversation with Richard Dawkins that makes all Christians look remarkably stupid.

2. From the gay community we have this story on 365Gay.com titled "It Was Just a Massage, & Some Meth Pastor Now Says." This is probably one of the better summary stories about the events thus far but fail to catch the difference between the two Dobson statements.

3. Finally, I can't believe it, but there are already shirts available for this. No dirty pictures but Jesse Brown and my mom would not find these shirts to be funny or appropriate. My favorite is probably the second one. If you must know.

Edit: Liza's blog is amazing. She has the news changes and coverage set.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ted Haggard's Not Gay

In what might be the most astonishing story of this political season Ted Haggard is being accused of having a 3 year affair with a male prostitute.

Haggard who is (or I guess more accurately WAS) the President of the National Association of Evangelicals and head pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs was accused by a former male prostitute of both having a gay affair and using methamphetamines while they were together. The man said that he didn't know who Haggard really was until one day he saw him on TV (preaching at New Life) and speaking against gay marriage (which just happens to be on the ballot this coming Tuesday), and was so hurt by this fact that he decided to come forward with these "facts."

In light of these allegations Haggard decided to step down as president of the NAE and step aside as the senior pastor of New Life while the churches internal investigation takes place.

Oh... and by the way Haggard completely denies this whole thing (and James Dobson believes him).

I'm not sure what I think about this. There have been countless occasions when a public figure has spoken out strongly against something only to be knee deep in that something (see the Foley Scandal) but it also seems quite convenient that this story would break FIVE days before the midterm elections. The whole thing just seems so surreal.

(There's more to say but I'll let you say it so I don't get in trouble)