dispatches to and from

nathan f. elmore

Dispatches to and from faith, culture, and things in between

Of Scandalous Proportions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a quick primer on these current events of scandalous proportions at Penn State, here's a timeline.

 

{Commentary}

And so it is that Happy Valley will never be the same. Especially the happy part. As for the valley? Naturally, it's only just beginning. And there are many extraordinary images spilling out from the shadows of this unsuspecting valley of death. (By death, of course, all I mean is: everything that is anti-life in that foremost spiritual sense.)

Undoubtedly you have read and heard so much of the hard-to-read and hard-to-hear things -- about those things that have come into plain view, years after happening in the apparently murky confines of Pennsylvania State University. Joe Paterno, head football coach at Penn State since 1966, was fired on November 9th in the storm of the child sex-abuse allegations against Paterno's long-time defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. On the night Paterno was relieved of his duties, he uttered two sentences that will echo through the lives of Sandusky's victims, the college football landscape and American culture for a very long time: "It is one of the great sorrows of my life. I wish I had done more."

What follows, here, is an initial attempt to reflect on some of what we're continuing to encounter through what we're continuing to read and hear. As this is a kind of personal reflection, it is most certainly interpretive. It is also, as you might imagine, open to discussion as well as re-interpretation as the days turn into weeks and months.

Furthermore, these greater than/less than reflections below are obviously evaluative -- from the words and images at hand. They function, as it were, like reminders which arrive every day in society at-large but often more poignantly on unbelievably specific days. Some reflections are desperately hopeful; they are set against the ever-present backdrop of our never-ceasing humanity. Most reflections -- whether we like it or not -- are rather theologically inclined.

 

Greater than/Less than at Penn State, and what it might necessarily reveal about the rest of us.

Hidden stories being revealed  >  All the shocking reactions and implications thereof
A public university of higher education  >  Its athletic programs or athletic pedigree
What is the morally responsible thing to do  >  What is the legally required thing to do
The job of a state police commissioner  >  The job of a college football coach
Protecting the weak  >  Defending the strong
Sport  >  The icons derived from it
Resisting the culture of the fairy tale  >  Sustaining the culture of the fairy tale
University-as-human-community  >  University-as-brand-commodity
Tough leadership decisions by flawed grown-ups  >  The ire of kids in their early 20s
A victim's suffering (often)  >  A perpetrator's punishment
(In time) The light of truth  >  Corrupted systems of power
To strive for a table clear of regrets  >  To leave a single regret on the table