I live in Lake Wobegon country and I must say, that heroes are falling fast. Both Sen.Al Franken and Garrison Keillor have been on the front pages of our newspapers. I’ll leave it to others to determine the truth behind the allegations. But, I have to say that I have been disappointed. We make our heroes invincible. We tell ourselves that they only act justly and fairly in their dealings with others. We put our heroes on pedestals and pretend they are super human, not given to the faults and flaws of others.
We want our heroes to be more saintly than we expect of ourselves. As a fan of Prairie Home Companion and an occasional teller of Lake Wobegon stories in my sermons, I’m feeling a bit deflated. Our heroes are not supposed to act inappropriately. They don’t do drugs or drink excessively. Our heroes are supposed to remain true to our highest values and never let their humanness get in the way of their inspiring us.
There are, of course, no perfect people. Those on pedestals inevitably slip off. They make mistakes. Stress takes it toll in various ways. Sharp words, bitter words can spew from their mouths. Alcohol or drugs can be a too easy coping mechanism when one feels misunderstood or overwhelmed. Addiction can rob the people who we look up to of their credibility. Inappropriate sexual contact happens, even from our heroes. So, what is a Christian to do?
Our faith is one of second chances. We believe in redemption. My New Testament seminary professor used to say, that “God forgives, but we live with the consequences of our sins.” Then he would add the promise of forgiveness and new life. God is the one who gives us second chances, who restores us when we fail and promises us a life of new beginnings. I’m not sure what is going to be happening in Lake Wobegon in the next few weeks. In good 12 step fashion, we made amends for our wrongdoing. We start again, fresh over, knowing that the God of second chances, gives each of us the same gift. Meanwhile there is prayer. Prayer for people being accused. Prayer for those who feel victimized. And a prayer that we all learn something about respect and appropriate behavior from all of this.