Many of you may know the story of Rev. Dugan. I only became aware of it this week as reported in the Post-Gazette last month. Rev. Dugan was the pastor of the Community Presbyterian Church of Ben Avon where he had served his congregation for over 19 years. Nineteen years of sermons on compassion, worship, prayer, morality. Nineteen years of visiting the ill, marrying the hopeful, burying the dead and consoling survivors. Nineteen years of jokes, tears, confusion and devotion. A lifetime of struggle with sensations which were at odds with his values.
Like all of us. Like all of us.
Like all of us he struggled successfully for a long time. He stated in his departing note to his congregation that until four years ago he had maintained his vow not to act on his same sex attractions. According to what limited information is available, “…he became close friends with a man who claimed to love him, and with whom he had occasional sexual encounters. That man cajoled him into leaving specific kinds of sexual fantasies on his answering machine, and then betrayed him by setting up a meeting at an adult bookstore, where KDKA-TV recorded him, Mr. Dugan wrote.”
Apparently KDKA-TV ran promotional ads about the story. No doubt the sensational nature of the story would sell more Colgate and Chevrolets.Rev. Dugan checked into a motel, ate some aspirin and consumed a large amount of alcohol. He successfully committed suicide.
What kind of culture (individual+church+politics+press+commercialism) sets the stage for this sort of pain after a lifetime of service, sacrifice and silent struggling? What kind of people patiently plan and then wait for such a person’s failure?
Brent Dugan apparently led an honorable, commendable and generous life. He deserved much better than treachery for the sake of commercialism.
We all can be sadists, all of us. Suffering people give us the opportunity to vent our rage, on the weak, on the isolated, on the marginalized; to trivialize their lives through one fact, or one event or one set of sensations or one set of religious beliefs. God help us.
No, God help them.
UPDATE: 2/9/07 – A coalition of religious groups has filed a complaint with the FCC against KDKA over their investigative reporting of Rev. Dugan.