Ta-Nehisi Coates today has a post about Martin Luther King in which he quotes some of King’s bedroom utterances. The one that charmed me is “I’m fucking for God!”
As I said over there, I love this, not because I like the idea of King cheating on his wife, but because it sounds just like something a minister would say, something about how, when ministers go wrong, they go wrong spectacularly.
I’ve been thinking, too, about the story of Maury Davis. Not about the story, per se, but about the comments after the story, rushing to Reverend Davis’s defense.
The thing is this–human beings are just human. People who are pastors are people first. The Christian god’s concerns are not our concerns. So, you know, God doesn’t really give a shit if having a convicted murderer as a minister looks bad or wouldn’t be right. He doesn’t care if a plagiarizing philanderer wouldn’t be the best face of the Civil Rights movement.
The Christian god doesn’t care if you’re not good enough to do what He has for you to do.
But boy do we want to believe that people who are called are called because they’re so great, so deserving, so much more morally upright than the rest of us, that they are deserving.
They are not.
But the more we cling to this idea that they are better than us, the easier it is for their true selves to be obscured. In the case of MLK, I don’t think it matters much, except that, in catching glimpses of his sins, I feel like we catch glimpses of his humanity. But in the case of someone like Davis, I can’t help but wonder if it doesn’t allow him shelter from his humanity. What do I know? But a minister in a million dollar house is in a fortress to protect him from something.
I don’t know. This has ended up someplace different than where I thought it was going when I started it.
My dad was back in the pulpit on Sunday. On the one hand, I know he enjoys it so I’m glad for him. On the other hand, I feel a little like, “Oh, god, this again?”
Maybe some ministers aren’t fucked up.
But, frankly, I would doubt they were very good at their jobs then. It seems like you go a little crazy when you are truly hooked into the Holy. So, if you aren’t crazy, I don’t know that you’re hooked In. Maybe that’s not fair, but that’s years of observation.
It just seems very unfair what it does to families. I mean, I laughed at King’s outburst, because it sounded so much like something my dad’s friends might say, so familiar, the private things ministers say when they don’t have to pretend to be deserving of what they’re doing.
But damn, my heart when out to his kids, who like so many of us, end up squashed between the weight of a man and his congregation.