Slate asked for an essay on Ted Haggard’s spiritual restoration. I’m okay with what I came up with for now, but the more I think about it, the more I think we need better thinking on what restoration looks like for very public, outspoken, influential men and women like Haggard:
Most people who fail need only redeem themselves with their most immediate friends and family. They can ask forgiveness of every person they’ve wounded. How could Haggard ask forgiveness of 30 million–or even the 14,000 members of his former church? Sitting across from Oprah is no substitute for sitting across from those you’ve hurt. But he can go away quietly, do the work of atonement, and let tales of his renewed life spring up naturally, Profumo-style.