My new friend Jacob has introduced me to Jay Bakker, albeit vicariously. He has spoken some in regard to his friendship with Bakker and how the two have connected in their faith experience. Many of you will know "about" Jay Bakker. I remember thinking about him and his sister years ago and feeling a sense of anguish toward them. You see, Jay is "little Jamie," son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, former TV evangelists and subjects of a major scandal. As much as I disagreed with the Bakkers at that time and even joined with others in poking fun at them, I remember thinking that no child...NO CHILD...deserves being in the center of that kind of pain and embarrassment.
Today Jay is a preacher seeking to be faithful in living out his own ministry. He is a most untraditional minister. He invests his life with those who live on the margins, with those considered by many to be "different" if not outcasts. He seems to emulate someone else from about 2,000 years ago. I have just purchased two autobiographical books by Bakker. Some folk will continue to shun him, both because of his last name, how he looks (lots of tattoos and some body piercings) and especially because of what he says. I want to get to know him better. I think I need to hear what he has to say.
As I write this I am following the news accounts of the fall and disgrace of Congressman Anthony Weiner. I have listened to Weiner from time to time. I like him. I like his ability to frame issues clearly, his fiery rhetoric, even his combative personality. But what has happened? Have all elected national leaders gone the way of idiocy or just most of them? Is it really just an accepted idea that most politicians lie and quite frequently, that they abide in such hubris that they believe they can keep their skeletons hidden in the closet? Do most of them eventually move toward irrelevancy?
I have actually wondered what kind of childhood Congressman Weiner had. Did he suffer because of his last name? Was he bullied? Is that part of what gave shape to whom he has become, both openly and secretly? (For more reference to this, go to the most recent link of A Church for Starving Artists).
My thoughts today carry me far back to the idea that Jesus ate with sinners....all kinds of them. He spent time with them breaking bread, listening to them, speaking to them, surely touching them. When I sit at meal with a large group I realize that I may be in the midst of some who are broken by their own actions; perhaps carrying deep within the shame of something so far unrevealed. And as I eat, I must take pause and remember that I, too, am among the company of the sinful. I need to be very careful about judgment.