Like many others, I am so deeply troubled by the choice of both Texas and national Republicans to use Ted Nugent as a spokesperson for their views. Try typing into a search engine, “Ted Nugent Pedophile” and see what comes up. To call this man “vile” might be a compliment. He’s simply appalling.
Now, I will tell you that I’d never even heard of this person before last week’s dust-up in Denton. I’m not much into pop culture, and never have been. Never listened to his music, never even knew he existed. But his association with Republicans is not new. I’ve learned now that Mitt Romney sought out Nugent as a supporter in his campaign and that Nugent made open claims about wishing to assassinate then candidate, now President, Obama.
Apparently this is OK, since Nugent, the ardent lover of all things American (except serving in the Armed Forces where he apparently turned up for his draft interview with his clothes soiled with a week’s worth of urination and defecation on them–this is his self-report on that day) speaks the kinds of words that many want to hear about loyalty to their preferred way of life.
Now, out of all this, I’ve realized something about myself: I wish to have the power to condemn Ted Nugent to an eternity of damnation. And that makes me . . . .frankly, it makes me evil. Just as bad as I think he is.
A real conundrum here.
Sunday, I was treated to a simply spectacular performance by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of the Verdi Requiem. Now, a Requiem is a sung version of the Roman Catholic funeral mass. It pulses with the awe of God, and pleads for mercy. In the final movement, the Soprano and chorus cry out for liberation, “Deliver me, Lord, from eternal death … when you will come to judge the world by fire.”
There is no “God loves you and looks the other way when you live in a despicable manner” piety here. These words remind us that God indeed is holy, and we have not measured up. Outside God’s mercy and deliverance, there is no hope.
Yeah, well, we’ve kind of lost that now. But yesterday, after the Requiem, which simply moved me to tears, the friend who had given me the gift of experiencing this performance and I were talking about politics on the way home. She mentioned, “During the prayer time today, I nearly called out the name Ted Nugent, but then thought I’d best just pray silently.”
And I was brought up short. I have sinned. I have not prayed for Ted Nugent. I have not heeded the call of God to love my enemy. And yes, any man who routinely demeans women, violates children sexually, and reduces other humans to the level of vermin is my enemy.
My visceral dislike and disgust threatens to overtake my soul. But I am supposed to pray for him. And I am not supposed to take on God’s job and condemn him. Because when I do, I become just as vile as I believe Nugent to be.
And that is a problem.
“Do not judge.” “Get the log out of your own eye.” “You who are without sin may pick up the first stone.”
I had served as guest preacher for an ill clergy friend on Sunday at a nearby United Methodist Church and had spoken from those passages in Matthew 7 and John 8. I had reminded the congregation of the subtle power of evil that convinces us we can routinely toss others into eternal condemnation without ever taking a look at what the usurping of such power from God does to our own souls.
And I had given into that subtle power.
God and God alone has the right to decide Ted Nugent’s eternal fate–and mine.
My job is to live with a repentant heart, one that opens up the doors to the Kingdom of Heaven, a place where I believe all will be treated with dignity and respect. And it has to start with me. And you. That’s our only hope.