The hippopotamus’s day
Is passed in sleep; at night he hunts;
God works in a mysterious way -
The Church can sleep and feed at once.
- T.S. Eliot, The Hippopotamus
It was hard to know which seemed more like a miracle – the news that Ted Haggard was completely heterosexual after three weeks of therapy, or that George Bush had fallen in love with the National Parks.
Ted Haggard is the former senior pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. When it was learned that Mr. Haggard had enjoyed a homosexual relationship while happily married and ministering to a congregation of thousands, he was forced to resign. Thereafter he entered therapy that was designed to cure him of what his flock and fellow pastors considered an affliction. The therapy included, among other things, the “laying on of hands” which, given the nature of his fall from grace (involving, among other things, receiving a massage from a male prostitute) seems slightly bizarre to those not tutored in the ways of such therapy.
According to H.B. London, vice president for church and clergy of Focus on the Family, who was describing the therapy, the symbolic laying on of hands was to be part of the recovery. “I’m sure there will be those who lay their hands on Pastor Haggard as an act of faith, calling on the act of God to restore and heal,” he said. “The prayer can be therapeutic, the laying on of hands can be ceremonial.” The therapy worked and after three weeks an overseer of the church announced that Mr. Haggard was “completely heterosexual.”
Mr. Haggard’s miraculous cure should serve as an example to the hundreds of thousands of homosexuals who had no idea that it was possible to achieve the blessed state of “complete heterosexuality” in only three weeks. (In fairness I must point out that for some homosexuals the cure period may be more like four or five weeks. A spokesman for New Life explained that Mr. Haggard’s homosexuality had not been “a constant thing.” Although I am no expert in the field I suspect that a homosexual for whom homosexuality has been a “constant thing” may find it takes an extra couple weeks of therapy to get over it. Nonetheless, Mr. Haggard is an example to the entire homosexual community for which I am sure, in due course, there will be appropriate recognition.)
Almost as exciting as observing the Lord’s work in Mr. Haggard’s remarkable recovery has been the Lord’s work in instilling in George Bush love for the great outdoors and, especially, our beloved National Parks, as shown in his recently unveiled budget.
When Mr. Bush was running for president he promised that within 5 years he would eliminate the $5 billion maintenance backlog that confronted the National Park Service. Four years after his ascendancy the deferred maintenance backlog was estimated to be between $4.1 billion and $6.8 billion. Mr. Bush was not, however, in 2004, oblivious to the plight of the Parks. Wanting to be seen as “proactive” (one of the verbally impoverished’s favorite expressions) he asked the National Park Service to create an inventory of the condition of roads, buildings, etc. in the system. Being dim of wit, it did not occur to him that such an inventory would earn him a rebuke rather than applause since it would enable the public to readily see what his broken promise meant to the National Parks.
Today Mr. Bush is being praised for something that would have caused people to call him a liar and promise breaker a few years earlier. In the 2008 budget submitted to Congress, Mr. Bush has proposed putting $1 billion into the 390 national parks and monuments by 2016, the 100th anniversary of the creation of the national park system. In addition, he calls on private donors to put in an additional $1 billion, that sum to be matched by an additional $1 billion from the federal government for a total of $3 billion. Even those who recall the tale of loaves and fishes and compare George Bush to its narrator must be slightly perplexed by the notion that a commitment of $3 billion in 10 years is as good as the $5 billion in five years promised a few short years ago.
By this newest proposal Mr. Bush has shown himself to be all things to all people – a fiscal conservative by not providing the promised $5 billion in 5 years and a friend of the parks by promising $2 billion within 14 years after the unfulfilled $5 billion promise was made.
When the president visited Shenandoah park to announce his budget proposal, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne turned to him and said: “I think Theodore Roosevelt would be very proud of you.” People with memories longer than Secretary Kempthorne’s would appropriately ask “Why?”