I only know Ted Haggard from his 2006 scandal. As evangelical pastor of the New Life Church (10,000 congregants strong), Ted was caught having relations with a former male prostitute. Crystal meth was involved. As scandals go, it was a big one. He was ousted by the church and even told to pack up his family and move from Colorado, his home base. But Ted and his family are back and have started a new church in a barn on their property. You might think: Hypocrite! Blasphemy! Or all number of things when the name Ted Haggard is mentioned, but he's more than meets the eye.
Mainly, he's an out bisexual now, who welcomes people of all backgrounds to his new St. James church. His wife Gayle, decided to stay with him and they continue to live together with their five children, some who are at home, some who are in college or doing missionary work. They have made an arrangement that apparently works for them. I assume that years of extreme sexual repression made Ted prone to a spectacular mental blow-out, but he appears to be on the mend. Still, how will his family deal with Steffanie, the Jewish hypnotherapist, past-life-living, self-proclaimed "Busey Whisperer" fiancée of Gary Busey when she comes a'calling?
Gary Busey is one of my favorite character actors. He's now primarily known for acting ca-razy during public events, but the American public forgets that he's not merely a former cocaine addict, he also suffered a skull fracture in a helmet-less motorcycle accident in 1988. This resulted in brain damage that is most likely the cause of his impulsiveness and super-high levels of intensity. Although he's always been intense. That's partially what makes him a great character actor. His other gift comes from a weird charisma that is truly American in scope--unpredictable, mocking, and prone to violence, yet somehow lovable, despite everything. How will Gary and his 14-month-old son, Luke, handle the Christian wife of a once-fallen-but-now-rising evangelical pastor?
Let's explore this episode with a combination of automatic writing (a la Busey, who is more verbally poetic than most), and free-verse, representing the possibilities available to all of us through creative growth, personal spirituality and the forgiveness of nearly...anything.
Note: Busey often exclaims excitedly in a high-pitched baby voice, often proclaiming, "YAY!" or sometimes with nonsense syllabic concepts. While Gayle has an unconscious habit of pursing her lips and saying, "Hmmm," whenever things get a little weird or unfathomable. And as evidenced by the Comedy Central show, "I'm With Busey," that has been known to happen in the Busey household.
Gary Busey Loves a Good Beef Rib
I'm Gary Busey.
Prepare for the best, prepare for the worst
and expect the unexpected.
I've been dead, surrounded by golden balls. Those were angels.
Strangers assume that I must be crazy.
Thirty-one past lives later, that's just something that's a whim,
Gary lives with knowledge.
Finally Understanding Nothing: Fun.
Ted muses, He may be a real celebrity.
We're a mistake celebrity.
Gayle's manual proclaims
Families are worth fighting for.
But you want to live in harmony,
You want to live in peace, says Steffanie
The Haggard family has
specific energies and feelings
that are almost a little sad.
Gary and Gayle:
I am a church.
Past-life evolution is true.
Spirituality is for people who've already been
to hell and back.
Huh! Yay! A bah bah bah bah!
Wah wah wah!
When it comes to gay marriage,
says Steffanie, The public-faced Ted
says what the public wants to hear.
Although gays, bisexuals, drug users, ex-addicts
are all welcome at St. James,
Native-American Bob attempts to address
three centuries of cultural annihilation
by greeting Gayle with the phrase,
So you're the lost soul.
Gary gets his soul cleansed
with a suitcase full of drum
while Gayle sits this one out,
not sure what to make of Indian Bob
who Gary says is
sincerely, spiritually, on the money
Gary eats beef ribs falling off the bone
like Kobi beef from Japan.
Gayle waits to tell her story
But Gary, like most of us,
could honestly care less
And dinner was fantastic
Gayle says, I do really like you
just the way you are.
Gary says, this touches me
very deeply and you come to realize
you really need to hear that.
Ted's daughter wants to spend time
with her dad
and get to know him more.
This simple request
turns into an argument with her brother
who wants to know
why doesn't she just spend more time
with their dad.
This argument, brought to you by
tabloid-fueled scandal fall-out.
The new doors of communication
are opening over coffee
and stroller walks
and simple suppers
and hikes in the hills
where people are told to
listen as well as talk.
Gary quotes Don Henley about
the nature of scandal
It's not the Bible, Gayle,
But it's a start.
The kindness of Gayle
was beautiful today to me.
I learned a lot from it.
It's emotional and it's good,
Gayle has taught him to listen
There's hope for us all yet.
God is not ashamed of me.
I'm his son, says Ted.
Ted, you're great, says Gary.
While selling insurance,
Ted heard the voice of God,
calling him back to Colorado Springs.
Insurance will do that.
Gary speaks of Easter
but questions the bunnies,
This wife swap has been
a miracle and a blessing.
to Gary one night.
That was very thoughtful.
Gary tells us
It's wonderful to look at
No matter where you look
I hope Ted and Gayle make it, those crazy kids. I suggest an ongoing course of dance therapy, particularly the duet from Just Dance 3 for the Wii - "No Limit" by 2 Unlimited. It's strenuous but so is living under the glaring eye of the media, your congregants, and God Himself. Good luck, you two!