samedi, octobre 07, 2006

Pennsylvania Dutch Country Lessons

If you live in Northern Chester County, Pennsylvania, then the Amish are your neighbors. On our way to Lancaster, we drive around their horses and buggies, or watch them doing outdoor chores on their farms as we speed down country roads way faster then we need to. Even those of us who don't stare at a person in a wheelchair, or teach our children to treat all of their classmates as equal, seem to make an exception, a condescending one, for the Amish. After all, their black and white garb, their centuries-old ways of living, make them different from us. But as Scott Simon reminded us on his Saturday radio show, its simply wrong to make the Amish into simply another tourist attraction. They are, as we have learned this week, a remarkably strong people-capable of practicing a disciplined Christianity and faith in the mercy of God which sustains them. For centuries, they have asked only to have the freedom to live out the vision of Christian community that guided them through persecutions in their home countries and led them to America. The best thing we can do, now , is to a. send money to support the families that have lost children and those that have to pay hospital bills. b. pray for them c. leave them alone and d. meditate on what it is we can learn about real Christianity from the example of a people who take the words of a Nazarene carpenter as seriously as they deserve.

mardi, octobre 03, 2006

Lies, Sex and Videotape

Sorry-when I wrote about Congressman Foley on Monday I hadn't thought about the possible "I am an alcoholic formerly molested by a priest" defense. This one probably puts anything former Gov. McGreevey admitted to shame. Faster than the speed of light, we have gone from the "covered-up" Mark Foley to the "naked" Mark Foley-and I find them both repulsive and horribly compelling. Actually, this is not the former Florida Congressman's fault-not entirely. In the head-shrinking (therapeutic and cannibalistic) world of American politics, Foley, his lawyer, and ABC News have thrown a whole pile of manure out for the public to sift through as it will-since "icck, go back to your cave, Foley" apparently is not an option. How prudish it sounds to say that if Foley was indeed molested by a clergyman (one assumes a Catholic priest, since he is Roman Catholic), then he needs to deal with his problems in counseling. The striptease with the American public is just another way in which he can cosset his craving for perversity..and ours. The phrase TMI (too much information) is clearly tailored for this age in which not only are secrets disgorged by anonymous bloggers, but they spill out from so many directions that readers are invariably forced into the position of journalists and editors. The fact that it seems newsworthy that Foley is "taking responsibility" for his own behavior doesn't begin to excuse it. The behavior of the House leadership is revolting beyond belief-its bad enough to view them as they prance around like bugs in quicksand. But we, too, end up feeling soiled, as though we were watching unspeakable acts through someone else's apartment window. Try not to watch the peep show! I dare you. If you can, I commend you. I watch...and read...and then, probably like Mr. Foley after one of his lurid escapades...I hate myself in the morning

lundi, octobre 02, 2006

The McGreevey Defense

I just hope that former Congressman Mark Foley, alleged sexual predator, doesn't use the Jim McGreevey defense. Foley, who resigned his well-to-do Florida congressional seat on Friday, is accused of writing sexually explicit notes to the male pages who worked on Capitol Hill. Formerly the Governor of New Jersey, McGreevey, who put his alleged (Cipel, the alleged boyfriend, denies it) male lover in a powerful New Jersey post while in office, recently came out with a book retailing his journey out of the closet (and out of the Governor's mansion). I don't know about you, but I am sick of men (and it's mostly men) who excuse their bad, immoral and dishonest dealings by claiming that they were rent by the pressures of having to lead double lives. Now that they have repented of their misdeeds, they can finally walk in the sunlight of disclosure, write books that will bring in lots of money, and serve as consultants. Caveat-McGreevey, as far as I know, has never been accused of being a sexual predator. Nor is this a "gay issue." Think ex-President Bill Clinton. If Foley is guilty, he's not the first member of Congress to harass male and female pages. What is so infuriating is that these men seem to think that a public apology, expressed remorse, a scrub in the confessional bath, is enough to exonerate them. No way. They have left a trail of hurt and mistrust in their path. Reparations for that kind of abuse won't be made right with a book that hits the top of the charts on Amazon. Rebuilding faith and hope, restoring trust takes a lifetime of quiet, non-public, repair and rehabilitation.