Tammy Faye Messner (nee Baker) died yesterday after a long battle with cancer.
I'm a little to young, and far too northeastern and Catholic in my upbringing to remember much of Tammy Faye Baker in her heyday and subsequent fall beyond the headlines and jokes. And I saw the "Surreal Life" all of once, and thought little of it. But she always struck me as a woman of conviction, even when I didn't share them. She had an odd and incongruous gay cult following, which she did nothing to discourage or deride, which given her background would've been easy. (See this interview) And despite the surreality of her life before and after PTL, which she did little to discourage, with her absurd makeup and bigger than life character, she always struck me as someone who was trying to walk the talk of her beliefs. She was a very human being in a movement that too often unjustifiably deifies its heroes and completely dehumanizes its enemies. For all her absurdities and shortcomings, methinks the world could use more Christians like her.
Update: Salon has a less generous, but no less apt remembrance by filmmakers who filmed her and her son,