This terse announcement came to my in-box today from CNN's breaking news department:
"Jesse Ryan Loskarn, a former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, was found dead Thursday in a Maryland home where he's been living with family since December, according to the Carroll County Sheriff's Office in Maryland.
"Loskarn was charged in December with possessing and attempting to distribute child pornography.
"'The preliminary investigation indicates that Loskarn may have taken his own life,' the sheriff's office said."
The Associated Press had just a bit more in a story filed on Friday:
"The Maryland medical examiner’s office says a former aide to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander hanged himself in his parents’ home, just weeks after his arrest on child pornography charges.
"Spokesman Bruce Goldfarb says Ryan Loskarn was pronounced dead in Maryland shortly after noon local time Thursday.
"The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office says family members reported finding Loskarn unresponsive in the basement where he had been living.
"Loskarn had been allowed to live with his parents while awaiting trial on charges of possession and attempted distribution of child pornography. The 35-year-old also was required to be electronically monitored."
There you have it, folks: this is the fractured personality that is produced by the frenzied attempt to maintain a public image. According to news reports, Loskarn previously served as the staff director of the Senate Republican Conference and as communications director for Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). I know Blackburn for only one thing: she will not stop talking. Every single time I have seen her interviewed, she will talk over questions and/or over the interviewer. It has always appeared to me that she was trying to run out the clock by spouting her talking points until the announcer had no choice but to end her segment. If I were a talking head on television, I would re-introduce the old practice of cutting off the microphone of anyone who pulled this. Here is an example of Blackburn's ineptitude:
"On CNN Friday, [CNN anchor Carol] Costello attempted to ask Blackburn what information is being illegally shared in the Obamacare exchanges, saying, 'So what specifically were you referring to on the website that violates, that could possibly violate HIPAA?'
“'Carol, HIPAA requires you to…,' Blackburn began, then changed direction. 'It’s the way you structure your website and the way you transit the information, the transfer rights that are there, and when you look at privacy on these websites, what you have to do is keep all of the application information in one server…and then you have to, whether it is a physical server or a cloud server…'
"Costello attempted to stem the flow of words, 'I’m trying to understand what kind of information you’re talking about,' she said. 'What kind of information are you talking about? What specifically does the website ask that I might be afraid might shared with whomever? Specifically. What information?'
“'You should be very concerned not only as you navigate the website but as you make a purchase, and then as your information is handled,' Blackburn said, ducking the question. 'What we want to make certain is that an individual’s medical information, their financial information is all going to be kept in a private manner. What we do not want is a peeping Tom who is going to look through their PII, their personal identifying information…'"
“'But HIPAA has to do with medical records,' Costello said. 'The only medical questions it asks is ‘Do you smoke?’”
Blackburn is also one of the more odiously self-righteous members of the House of Representatives, and Ryan Loskarn went from her office to working for Alexander. I believe that he hid his addiction to deviant pornography behind a facade of being the proper young Republican who commits to their version of family values. Loskarn was not very far off the target as far as their real attitudes are concerned, though, because if his tendencies were too extreme for Alexander, it seems that House Republicans have no problem with ignoring thousands of Americans who can no longer feed their children or make their mortgage payments while they surf the Internet.
So you listen to their rhetoric about their Obama Derangement Syndrome (even though our president is a self-proclaimed evangelical Christian) and all their dichotomies, including how the newly-bankrupted Americans have now become bad people and it is their fault that they are broke. And people like Loskarn are busy trolling the Internet for their secret fantasies, all the while pretending to be squeaky clean.
How could Loskarn have been helped? I do not know; pedophilia is difficult to treat, let alone cure. It is said that pedophiles have fixated emotionally, or stopped their maturation process, at a young age. A thirty-year-old man may have the emotions of a child, but he has the hormones of an adult, so when they desire gratification it is thought that they seek children who are of the same mental/emotional age as themselves. This is the best theory that I know of, but the scale of Loskarn's activity is truly shocking, whether to his bosses or the general public. He knew this, of course, and it impelled him to try to remain uncaught, though not to remain anonymous. He was easy to track because, if you look up details of the story, he failed to make some elementary efforts to disguise his online identity.
Here is the most important thing I have to say about this: the evangelical Church cannot help men like Loskarn. When you have the emphasis on appearances and outward suitability to be a member of a church, as we see blatantly in the Baptists, the cleavage between appearances and reality is crucial. When we saw candidate Herman Cain's effort to run for president implode, it was over his private sexual harassment of women, and he never thought he would be called to account for it. When he was exposed, he fell back on his persona, claiming that he was simply not that kind of man based on his image. Loskarn was about to be stripped of his image as a perfect young Republican, and he realized (as he had known all along) that it would destroy his career. The idea of rehabilitation, making restitution or confessing his addiction meant nothing; he would rather die.
In fact, the periodic collapse of various ministries and preachers is very often related to their inability to live up to an image. The more aggressively you present yourself as perfect, the greater your horror of being "found out" as a normal, fallible human being. The insistence of evangelicals is that everyone in their churches must be wonderful examples of their fundamentalism. There is no room for ordinary people--as they are happy to tell you. No, they are the chosen ones, the ones who will look down on the rest of us as we suffer through an eternity of punishment at the hands of their "loving" God.
There is real harm in these childish ideas, because you can be in real confusion and trouble because you cannot admit what you are. If you cannot ask for help you can be destroyed like Loskarn--a man in his youth who has been consumed by hypocrisy and wounded emotional development. This is a tragic waste and loss of a promising young life. It gives us an impetus to think that is much better for the Church to minister to people in their everyday, commonplace problems and imperfections. We cannot, as St. Paul writes to the Romans, ever be good enough to deserve calling ourselves Christians:
"But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
I don't think Loskarn ever heard that message; he was much more likely to hear that certain behaviors place him beyond the pale, hopeless and helpless in an addiction to the hormones that he enjoyed every time he experienced the twin thrills of unlawful activities on the Internet combined with his personal inclinations. It is unlikely that he thought of himself as a sinner needing compassion and help. Those who offer the certainty of going to heaven over the wailing of the "lost" do not think that their thoughtless preaching will ever impact their own. It seems that they can be completely taken in by people like Loskarn and Cain, confident that all is well if it all looks good to the public.
I suppose this is why the public is unable to see the difference between Franklin Graham and his father, Billy Graham. The son looks and sounds like his famous father, except for the content of what he preaches. But he looks good, sounds good, and of course he says what today's culture warriors want to hear. Those of us who dare to think of our predecessors as a free pass to get in bed with politicians are doing more to kill the Church than the most militant atheist.