Sunday, November 05, 2006

Have a seat, Pastor Ted

[T]he Overseers will continue to explore the depth of Pastor Haggard's offense so that a plan of healing and restoration can begin.

The eponymous Ted Haggard enter the room, facing three men seated behind a table. This is Pastor Ted's old office, now swept clean of all personal effects or any trace of Pastor Ted's occupancy. The room is cavernous and, for the most part, dark. Pastor Ted's eyes dart around the room. He can barely make out the three men behind the table, but he can still see in his mind's eye the pictures of Pastor Ted with George W. Bush and with James Dobson.

Have a seat, Pastor Ted, I mean Mr. Haggard, intones the Chairman of the Overseers.

Thanks. Gosh, it's good to see you guys, well I can sort see you! Overseer Smith, Mather, and Chairman Thunder. I'm really sorry for the circumstances, replies Haggard.

There will be no pleasantries, I'm afraid, thunders Thunder.

Oh, no, Mr. Chairman. Sorry, squeaks Haggard.

Pastor Ted is wishing right now that he had not been such bigot on the gay stuff. He has a feeling it is coming back to haunt him. Oh well, that's water under the bridge, as they say!

We're here to examine the depth of your offense and sin, continues Thunder.

Bingo! thinks Haggard. I was right.

Is is just me, or is the room really hot? asks Haggard. Maybe it's just the bright lights over here.

Temperture's just fine, growls Smith.

Now, Haggard, we can sort of understand the drug abuse and the prostitution, but gay sex? How could you? asks Mather.

Well, it wasn't that hard, now that I sit here and analyze it, replies Haggard. It just kind of happened. Seemed kinda natural to me, you know?

Pfft. Natural my ass! exclaims Thunder. You practice this abomination with anybody else?

Um. . . . No.

We have your appointment calendars here, Haggard. There are some entries you are gonna have to explain.

You know, something just occurs to me fellas! says Haggard.

What's that? says Thunder.

Well, those calendars will show that I've counseled each of you over the years, says Haggard. Matters of transgression, and so forth. Say, Mather, do the words Cindy Lou and Motel 6 mean anything to you?

Uh, Chairman Thunder, may I have a word with former Pastor Ted in private? asks Mather.

You may not! retorts Thunder. Don't try to change the subject, Haggard!

Until this moment, Pastor Ted did not really know what an epiphany was. He emitted a small gasp of delight, and ignoring Thunder, Pastor Ted says, By the way, Smith, how's your son's new roommate - Eduardo, right? - working out there with Johnny in Berkeley?

Haggard, what was said to you was private! screams Smith.

I guess we can all be mistaken about confidentiality, can't we? says Pastor Ted.

Hold on here! More thunder from Thunder. I've got a lot of money invested in, I mean I have contributed a lot of money to, this church! There's even a big angel statute with my name on it. I ain't gonna see that tarnished.

Funny you should mention the angel, Chairman Thunder. Didn't we have a talk about how you got the money for the angel - and a whole lot more - because you had a "special connection" over at the Air Force Academy? And how you might feel a little better about if you gave some money to the church here? I know I remember that. Pastor Ted is humming faintly. It sounds like "Bringing in the Sheaves."

Haggard, this is another side o' you that I ain't seen before, says Thunder. Would you excuse us a minute?

Pastor Ted excuses himself from the room. He can hear heated voices behind the door. After several minutes of arguing, it becomes quiet, and Overseer Smith sticks his head out the door and says, Uh, Pastor, please come back in now.

Pastor Ted returns to his old office where he faces the three Overseers. They are ashen. Chairman Thunder begins, Well, Pastor, we been thinkin'. Maybe we should just let bygones be bygones. You know, you are a reprehensible sinner, but we think it is better if you just go away. You'll do that now, won't you? We'll just destroy these here calendars of yours.

Okay, if that's what you really want, says Pastor Ted.

Oh it is! says Mather. We'll leave you alone. You won't talk to anybody about your counseling either, will you Reverend?

No. That would be pretty hard without the calendars, wouldn't it? answers Pastor Ted. It's been a pleasure talking to you boys again! Good night.

Good night Pastor Ted, comes the reply from all three.

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