Writer Anne Lamott posed the question, and all hell broke loose. If you’re not on Facebook, here’s what she said:
I have been over at Twitter, causing problems again by saying that no matter how much we all hate this, God loves Jerry Sandusky as much as He or She loves our grandchildren. That’s the mystery of Grace, that you just can’t get God to stop loving you or anyone else. It’s crazy love, way way beyond my comfort zone. That was the message of the stunning movie, Gods and Men, which is maybe the most profound movie about Christ’s Love I’ve ever seen.
God just Loves, period. Go figure.
As my Episcopal priest friend said today, “Yes, God loving Sandusky as much as S/He loves a child is what’s so boring about the Divine Love. More interesting, dazzling even, is the bravery of the young men.” Amen.
It’s such a horrible tragic mess that I cannot imagine personal or collective healing without God stepping directly into it. I believe there will be enormous change and healing as a result of the tragedy, and the courage shown and the forgiveness that will surely ensue. I don’t put anything past God. When all is said and done, His love and intelligence are sovereign over this earth.
People will cheer when he is killed in prison, which he almost inevitably will be. Forgiveness takes what it takes. The courage to forgive is definitely not my strong suit. I think Shirley Jackson’s ” The Lottery” captures my darkest, most revengeful side more than anything else I’ve read. So I am praying for a miracle.
Jerry Sandusky is the Penn State defensive coordinator football coach who was recently convicted of 45 of 48 charges of sexual abuse of young boys. His fellow inmates at Centre County Correctional Facility have taunted him with a Pink Floyd lyric.
And thanks, Jac, for the link.
I love Anne Lamott, but I’m not with her on this one. I cannot find compassion for Sandusky in any corner of my being.
A nice thing about not being a believer? You don’t have to worry about stuff like this.
Amen, cynical sister!
The Old Testament God of fire and brimstone is what I hope is waiting for Coach Diddler.
Jesus taught Love Saves. He never said, that I can recall, it would be easy.
Adherence to the message of Unconditional Love is indeed tested by criminals like Jerry Sandusky and William Lynn.
This is where life gets a little simpler for someone like me. I don’t have to worry if God loves these persons. All I have to worry about…knowing that Love Saves…and knowing that Justice must be defined by Love, not vengeance…is how secular law can best be applied to something as Evil as a criminal pedophile.
(Prison time need not be an automatic death sentence for the criminal pedophile. Institutions are bound by the same secular law that puts these persons in prison to make every reasonable attempt to protect their safety.)
Jesus spoke often about Love and Justice and vengeance. The scholarship on those subjects is…substantial.
But when I think about what Jesus taught, and people like Sandusky and Lynn, and Christians who might say their God cannot Love…or expect us to Love…for whatever reason, the very first thing that pops into my head is the time Jesus, allegedly, faced down Evil in the dessert. One of the things he said was, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Luke 4:12)
I don’t know why. It just does.
I agree, wondering about God’s love isn’t relevant if you aren’t a believer. However, “Love your enemies” (and similar sentiments) is mentioned all over, beyond Christianity (Buddhism, Hindu…). I’m not sure that being a believer is the only link to it. How do you feel about “love your enemies”?
What’s “love?” What’s an “enemy?” Tough question.
I’m with Jac. Big fan of Lamott but…
“His love and intelligence are sovereign over the earth”. I’m sure the survivors of Bosnia are glad to hear this. And most of the continent of Africa. And the North Koreans. And the myriad rape victims of clergymen (Catholic and otherwise). And the 925 million souls who go to bed hungry every night. Just think how bad things might get if the deity who runs the planet wasn’t loving and intelligent.
I can’t completely comprehend the love of God – and so, I leave things like this in the hands of God. One things that we do need to remember is that even “forgiveness” does not “save us” from the consequences of our actions in life. God may be able to forgive Sandusky – but the God-ordained system of temporal justice has spoken and has put a criminal behind bars where he belongs.
An Episcopal priest of my aquaintace once pointed out that love in the biblical sense is not that nice warm fuzzy feeling like familial love or sexual live. Biblical love is a verb. It’s how we treat each other. Do unto others, etc. In this case, I think that doing justice is how we show love to people like Sandusky. He wasn’t lynched or stoned, as he might have been in another age or culture. The State isn’t going to kill him. Protecting him from the unjustified vengence of other inmates is a form of love.
I think forgiveness has to come from the entity who has the responsibility of judging. It is not my jurisdiction to judge or forgive , the victims and the judge can do that. This isn’t a copout, Sandusky will face a judge who will doubtless take a harsh look at his actions and their repercussions. The temporal judgement will be the easier.
I was just having this same conversation recently. It was an eye-opener for me to think about things this way.
I am thinking that there is too much pressure on the victims to forgive. I don’t want those victims to even think about that now, or to think they must forgive some day. As a victim by other abusers, it feels like the burden is on me. It’s something the best people do, so I feel I should. But, I can’t. So, it feels like I am failing. The abusers failed, I know. But…
I really doubt you’re failing anything, Jac.
I understand about the pressure. There shouldn’t be any. Forgiveness is the final form of love. (Niebuhr) It comes in its own way. In its own time. And often when you least expect it.
No pressures, no judgments, no expectations can expedite its arrival. It is as inevitable as the wind, and equally hard to grasp.
And it has to be about you. Not about them.
It’s not about winning or losing or success or failure. It’s about Love. It’s about you.
This idea though is exactly what freed me from the feeling that I needed to forgive my abusers. None of us has the power to forgive another, we only have the power to forgive ourselves.
There has to be another word for the “forgiving” victims do in order to heal. It has never made sense to me to call that forgiveness.
Clearly, human justice has been served. What happens to Sandusky in his spiritual journey is between Sandusky and his own Higher Power. I feel each person should focus on being their own “harshest or best” spiritual critic/judge.
Who cares what kind of relationship God has with Sandusky? It would be great if each person focused solely on their own relationship with their Higher Power and weren’t concerned about other’s relationships.
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