We don’t really know yet which charges against Ted Haggard are true or false, but it’s impossible to watch the unfolding of the evangelical pastor’s alleged gay sex scandal without thinking of Carl Jung’s writings on “shadow”–the least acknowledged or examined parts of the self–and Ken Wilber’s belief in the importance of shadow integration for personal growth. For both, the essential idea is what you repress and hate most, you are. And if you don’t “own” your shadow, and raise it into your conscious, waking life you’re going to get busted in one way or another!
A shadow can be a hidden power–like when a timid woman feels she can’t get angry, or when a kind-hearted man can’t be assertive. It can be anything you disown in yourself or find yourself hating in others. In fact, what you find yourself hating most in the outer world is always a tip-off; this is an area where your psyche could use, as they say, “a little work.” Jung himself said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” It almost seems like Shakespeare had anti-gay gay Christians in mind when he wrote: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
Based on the allegations we’re gathering about the clash between Ted Haggard’s day job and personal life, I’d say he may be getting caught with his shadow showing. Too bad Carl Jung’s not available for appointments today, but I’m sure that if any of the recent allegations are true, the reverend will quickly find the help he needs to bring all of his personalities to the dinner table.
Stay strong, Ted, and take heart! The aching need for shadow integration has been the theme of virtually all great works of literature from “Oedipus Rex,” to “Moby Dick,” to “The Great Gatsby,” and even “Peter Pan.”