You'll forgive me departing from the usual focus and approach of the writings on this site. But I want to say something. Here's what I want to say: Morals matter!
Look, I'm this old, retired, but not quite retired, liberal parson. Yep, I said it. I'm a liberal. I'm liberal in my theology; I am liberal in my politics. And there are some who might say I was liberal in the way I raised my kids, but they turned out okay. So, I'm liberal. But this is one liberal who insists that morals matter.
Morals matter. And because morals matter there's a red flag to be waved about this country when people applaud at a presidential debate over the number of people who have been executed under the gubernatorial term of a candidate. Morals matter. And because morals matter there is concern to be expressed when people applaud the death of an ill individual because no societal health care is available. Morals matter. And because morals matter people booing a questioner because the question had to do with a candidate's supposed sexual harassment of a woman may be evidence of the decadence of our decaying society.
What prompts this writing is not the supposed sexual harassment Herman Cain is accused of. What prompts this writing is the apparent unconcern over the issue that so many evidence. What prompts this is the way supporters of Herman Cain can cast this issue to the side as though it is of no consequence.
Sexual harassment is not about sex. Sex is but the vehicle for the expression of power. When questions are raised about sexual harassment by a candidate for the most powerful office in the world, we need to listen. We need to listen, not for the lurid details of “he reached for my genitals,” but for the expression of power one enforces over another and the apparent unconcern for the wholeness of another, the failure to see another as a human being of equal worth, the arrogance of the expression, and most of all the use of power over one vulnerable.
Morals matter. And the matter of morals is not limited to sex. The matter of morals has to do with the way one sees another human being. The matter of morals has to do with one viewing one's self as more entitled than another. The matter of morals has to do with the devaluing of another.
Isn't there a verse in the Bible about being faithful in small things in order to be faithful in larger things. There is. And because that verse is there, morals matter.
The truth is there is not, I fervently hope, a man who has not at some time or another had thoughts of dominance, of devaluing, of selfish gratification, who has not had “forbidden” fantasies when it comes to women. (And I suppose the same may be true of women toward men.) Such prurient thoughts are part of our less than perfect nature. But not all men give in to such thoughts. In fact, the vast majority do not give them expression at all because morals matter.
Morals matter. And because morals matter there is a judgment to be passed upon us as a people when we act without concern for our fellow humans welfare, when we follow our own selfish interest, when we stick to a given agenda or dogma in pursuit of a narrow goal and ignore or turn our back upon the more lofty issue, the human issue, the community issue.
Morals matter. Because morals matter I want to know about the morality of anyone who is audacious enough to seek a position of power over me and my family. Morals matter. Because morals matter I want to know if any candidate has acted in the past as though morals do not matter.
And the truth of it is, I want to know about the morals not only of a candidate for public office, but I want to know it about my neighbor, I want to know it about the teacher who is in a position of power over my grandchildren, I want to know it about anyone with whom I come into contact in this life. I want to know these things because morals matter.
And the day morals cease to matter we will be doomed.
Bryan Fischer Columnist and Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy American Family Association
Dear Mr. Fischer:
I normally reserve this space for stories that revolve around the life of the Questing Parson, a retired pastor who still serves a small little church out in the country. They are stories, I hope, that keep things on a positive side and provide a chuckle here and there. I don't often express opinions outside the persona of “The Parson.” But in your case I have decided to make an exception.
I make the exception because you, sir, are … hmmm, how shall I put it? You are an idiot. Now my Mama would be a bit upset that I just called you an idiot. She would have told me I had to respect you because you're an ordained minister. But my Mama never had to put up with the damnable swill that spews from your mind.
How dare you question the correctness of awarding the Medal of Honor to United States Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Guinta. While, in your column “The feminization of the Medal of Honor”, you acknowledge that Sgt. Guinta “took a bullet in his protective vest as he pulled one soldier to safety, and then rescued the sergeant who was walking point and had been taken captive by two Taliban whom Sgt. Guinta shot to free his comrade-in-arms,” you then say, “We have feminized the Medal of Honor.”
Here's where I get my assessment of your mental capacity” You point out that the Medal of Honor has been given in the latest conflicts for saving lives and for not killing people. And then you show your ass by stating: “When are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things so our families can sleep safely at night?”
Let me get this straight. Taking enemy fire while dragging your fellow soldier to safety, chasing down two enemy thugs who are attempting to drag another soldier into captivity and then rescuing that soldier and dragging him back to safety all the while hearing the rounds whip around your space and knowing that at any minute your brains may be splattered all over the landscape is “feminine”?
I've read your biography, Reverend Fischer. You never served in the military did you? You've never known fear so penetrating your innards shake and your bowels contract, have you? You've never come face to face with the certainty of your immediate demise, have you? You've only pontificated from the safety of your closeted comfort and railed down judgment on anyone who does not share your disconnected view.
We have feminized the Medal of Honor by giving it to people who save lives rather than killing? Are you nuts? Have you read any of the scriptures on the right hand side of Malachi? There's a great story there about this fellow from Nazareth who taught that “Greater love has no one than to lay down one's life for another.” And that's what Sgt. Guinta practiced that day.
So go take a hike, you sanctimonious ____ (Well, there's a word I wanted to put there, but the memory of Mama washing my mouth out with soap prohibited it.) We both know if you were there that day with the smell of gun powder all around you, to say nothing of the smell of blood, to say nothing of the smell of fear, the panic, the confusion, the sound and the feel of projectiles flying all about you, would have placed you in such a panic that you would not have even attempted to match the feats of heroism for which Staff Sgt. Salvatore Guinta received the highest honor this nation can bestow. And praise God that he got that Medal for saving lives.
I fear you would just have stood there and pissed your pants.
And by the way, a lot of the members of my family have spilled blood on foreign soil in an attempt to save lives, including yours. So while Mama might have been mad about that sentence above, I'm also quite sure if she heard what you said and how you, by diminishing Sgt. Guinta's self-sacrificing exploits, diminished our loved ones who served, she would have slapped you silly.
I remain, one angry Parson,
The Reverend Guy Kent Elder The United Methodist Church and The Questing Parson
The parson tried to force himself into the cracks between the floor tiles. He was caught in the middle of a situation he'd rather not be.
Jimmy Pander, one of the up and coming pastors in the parson's mind, had come into the room where the parson and another pastor, one in a new supervisory position, were talking. No sooner had Jimmy entered the door than the new supervisor beckoned him over and began to berate him for not attending a meeting recently.
Jimmy tried to explain that he had a conflict which was scheduled long before the meeting was. Supervisor insisted that Jimmy should have rearranged his schedule to accommodate the agenda. The parson watched the younger pastor squirm and the older one dominate with a feeling of consternation. Finally, Jimmy was dismissed.
“I'm not going to tolerate people missing meetings,” he said to the parson.
“Sure you are,” said the parson. “Matter of fact I'm not going to be at the one you're having next month.”
“Because I don't want to go.”
“You have a conflict?”
“Not yet, but I'll think of something if you think I need one.”
“You're being a smart ass, Parson.”
“I am,” said the parson. “And I can get away with it. I'm retired and you can't make me do anything.”
“I know that,” said supervisor.
“What you don't seem to realize is that the only authority you actually have over that young pastor is the same authority you have over me, and that authority is what he's willing to give you. That's all the authority any of us have over anyone.”
How would have thought? Certainly I would not have. But however incredulous it may seem, I have become what I always dreamed I would be. The securing of my goal is the result of a long journey along the twisted path of life. As I look back, I realize it was the journey, above anything, that prepared me to assume my now exalted status. It was the journey, with all its bumps and detours, all its twists and turns, all its peaks and low points, that strengthen me, matured me, brought me to this point of fulfillment.
It’s strange to look back on it. As I reached a certain maturity and sophistication in my journey, I developed a strong sense of confidence. I became convinced hard work and persistent effort would bring dividends beyond measure. At the same time I became imbued with knowledge of the world that led me to think I was capable of understanding many of life’s mysteries, that I was accomplished enough to explain life’s complexities, and that I was generally a person of reasonable intellect and reasoning.
And then I reached an unexpected phase in my development. Where once I walked with my head held high, with buoyancy that kept me above depression, on top of things, and moving forward with the agility of one who is in control, there came a series of questions and statements which brought it all into question.
You’d think almost a decade and a half of relationship would bring about a mutual understanding and well-earned trust. That is not necessarily true. Around the thirteenth year of her growth came the first challenge. I don’t remember the discussion. I do remember the proclamation. “You just don’t understand,” she cried with vehemence; “nobody understands. It’s just not fair!” And then she stormed to her room where she secured her solitude with a forceful closing of the door.
It was just the beginning. There came the day when she learned that I, as Vice President of the PTA, would be one of the chaperons at the dance. “You’re what? You’re what? Well, I’m not going. You’re going to be the chaperon? Do you know how embarrassing it’s going to be to have my father watching over me at the school dance? I’d rather die!”
And then when she got the driver’s license it became more intense. “I’m going with my friends; that’s where. What does it matter where I’m going? Do I have to report every detail of my life to you? When are you going to quit treating me like a baby?”
It was devastating to find myself held in such disdain. It was a burden to learn that suddenly one is not all-knowing; one is not understanding and one is an embarrassment.
But there’s good news at the end of this story.
She called last night. She pushed all those years of not being trusted, not understanding, being out of touch into the background and pushed me to rediscover myself. It allowed me to become, as I said, what I was meant to be. A wise, respected, listened to, and revered person.
“Can we talk?” she asked.
“Sure,” I said.
“I need to talk to you because I’m in a bit of a crisis.”
“What’s up?” I asked.
“What’s up,” she said, “is my mother, your daughter. Listen, you’re the only one I can talk to. She’s just doesn’t understand me . . . .”
The parson was in the back corner of his favorite diner,
reading his morning paper on the Kindle and sipping a decaf, when Stanley
Kausman entered. He saw the parson and headed his way.
“Morning, Parson,” he said. “Where were you last night?”
“I was taking a nap with my wife if you have to know.”
“Oh, funny, Parson. The meeting. You were not at the
“There was a meeting last night? When did they announce
“Right! You didn’t know a thing about a meeting.”
The parson sipped his coffee. Stanley sat across from him.
“How was the meeting?”
“The meeting was crap,” said Stanley. “It was boring as
hell. And then, on top of that, they handed out the denominational asking for
next year. That was far from boring. It was infuriating.”
“What’s the rub, Stan?”
“Oh, let’s see. My church is being asked to meet a raise
what we pay to capital funding, not for our church mind you, but for the
conference, a mere 63%. And I suppose because we are such dedicated folks who
have trimmed staff hours to meet our responsibilities we are being asked to
increase what we give to the conference administration a small amount of 51%. I
tell you parson I looked at those figures and decided these folks just didn’t
know how to manage their budget, but then I saw that they are asking us to
increase our giving to that retreat that’s been bleeding money since it was
started by 41%.”
Stan rubbed his head with both hands in frustration.
“It’s insane, Parson. When did this kind of thinking start?”
The parson smiled and said, “It started forty-five years ago
last June when I arrived at my first church.”
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