Frankly, my first reaction to the news was a chest-tightening sadness -- not just for Mrs. Spitzer and their children, but for the governor. Dreams, hopes, aspirations, reputation....toast. He stares blankly at the reporters and cameras, swallows emotion and chokes out a brief, vague statement. Inside he wonders, how did it come to this?
We who watch from afar will mentally distance ourselves afarther from this tragic character. We'll sit in the bleachers, either mourning or laughing, and vigorously work to repress thoughts of our own inner-Spitzer.
We'll tell ourselves that power corrupts, that money is the root all evil, that he's just another hypocritical politician with a public face and a private face -- two faced. Meanwhile, his partisan brethren will blame political opponents for his downfall.
We'll convince ourselves that we're made of better stuff; that we would not squander such blessings. We believe we love our wives and children more than he does. We're stronger. We can avoid or rebuff such temptation.
Yet conscience calls our bluff: Do you really believe that you are so different from Eliot Spitzer?
There's an interesting episode in the life of Jesus of Nazareth in which the people were amazed at his character, his integrity and his incredible accomplishments. But John's gospel says, "Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people..." (John 2:24)
What did Jesus know about all people?
It's the same thing you know about yourself.
No matter what you may tell others (i.e. "I'm basically a good person."), there is something at the core of your being that seems to stain even your best intentions. Like Gollum in the caves of Tolkien's trilogy, it dwells within the heart and mind of all. Rarely does this beast reach full ferocity and manifest itself so publicly in some heinous act of cruelty or depravity. But it crouches at the doorstep for each of us, insinuating itself into our daily lives.
The distance between you, or me, and Eliot Spitzer is not so great as we would imagine, or wish.
The difference between me and Eliot Spitzer is largely this: I have never been elected governor of New York.
Knowing we face a common threat, I don't dance at his downfall. I weep. Yes, I mourn for his demise, even though it may politically benefit my ideological comrades or the cause of conservatism.
I also pray. I pray for the Spitzer family, for the prostitutes who have sold their souls into opulent slavery, for the federal agents who labored at the distasteful task of uncovering the tawdry tale. I pray that justice might be done, and that each person involved would find the mercy I have found -- unmerited mercy that relieves me of my false confidence, and places my hope in the only world figure who ever successfully navigated the perils of power, both publicly and privately, because he alone had no inner-Spitzer.
13 March 2008
Good Theology in the wake of the Spitzer debacle
I found some good theology from Scott Ott, a Christian camp director who also writes Scrappleface.