Penn State and Veterans Day
We have recently seen again the tragedy of a person or persons who look for stability, morality or life in any other place or person other than the Messiah. The tragedy of multiple young boys apparently being abused by a former Penn State football coach and that Penn State leaders are now accused by a Grand Jury report of having lied about the abuses have sent shock waves across America. According to the report, the Senior Vice President, Athletic Director and others worked continually to cover up the abuse and refused to call the police. Even the beloved coach of Penn State, Joe Paterno, seemingly sought to absolve himself of the moral responsibility of stopping the abuser simply because he told someone at Penn State he had heard there was alleged abuse. According to State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan, coach Paterno and other leaders failed to protect the innocence of these young boys. This week the Police Commissioner said publicly, "…somebody has to question about what I would consider the moral requirements for a human being that knows of sexual things that are taking place with a child." He added, "I think you have the moral responsibility, anyone. Not whether you're a football coach or a university president or the guy sweeping the building. I think you have a moral responsibility to call us."
I pray that it will be revealed later that one of these leaders truly called the police and sought to fight for the innocent.
On a weekend that we are to remember those who fought for our country, (and I hope you will say thank you to a veteran today) we are left wondering why there was seemingly no one at Penn State willing to fight for these young boys. As one commentator recently said, it looks like ‘We are Penn State” became more valued than doing right by these young boys. Writer John Scalzi states, “At Pennsylvania State University, a grown man found a blameless child being put through hell. Other grown men learned of it. Each of them had to make their choice, and decide, fundamentally, whether the continuation of their utopia — or at very least the illusion of their utopia — was worth the pain and suffering of that one child. Through their actions, and their inactions, we know the choice they made.”
We are reminded again that when we look to be ultimately satisfied in anything or any person other than Jesus Christ, we will not only be disappointed, but we will bring harm to ourselves and others sooner or later. God may wait years, but He will always expose our hearts of idolatry that look to ultimately value anything other than Him. That is why it is so crucial that we be satisfied in Christ daily and to ask Him to expose where our hearts are drifting.
Satisfy me in the morning with your steadfast love that I may rejoice and be glad in you. Psalm 90:14
Please read the short article below concerning the tragedy that has and is taking place at Penn State and pray as God leads you.
Misplaced priorities & the tragedy of Penn State
Posted on Nov 10, 2011
DULUTH, Ga. (BP) -- There's no need in rehashing it. If you're like me, you've been disgusted, enraged, saddened at the news coming out of State College, Pa.
Penn State and Joe Paterno are one of those programs I've always liked. Just being unable to embrace the glitz and ever-changing uniform combinations that have become commonplace in college football, I appreciate the Nittany Lions for their simplistic style and old school coach who could've just stepped out of a 1955 copy of LIFE. Like the school I pull for, Alabama, keeping the same look along with a winning tradition has lent itself to a feel of consistency and stability. Unlike my Crimson Tide, Penn State has kept itself free of scandal and NCAA probation during that time while insisting on high academic standards, becoming a beacon of what's good in college sports.
I wonder now if it was the desire to keep that lofty platform that led Paterno to make the greatest mistake of his life.
What was his thought process that morning in 2002 when he learned of the scene in a shower room involving former longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and a 10-year-old boy? How would you have reacted, hearing that about a man you'd coached before he became a mainstay of your staff for three decades?
At that point, Paterno felt he was doing everything expected of him by passing along what he knew to the proper leadership at Penn State. From there he washed his hands and proceeded with preparing for the 2002 campaign. After all, the coach was coming off back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in his career. Voices were growing saying he needed to retire, that he was too old.
That 2002 season would end 9-4, with two losses coming in overtime and none by more than a touchdown. It appeared Paterno had Penn State back on track, but not until the past few days has the Penn State family come to feel the weight of that lapse in judgment nine years ago. There was no desire to punish the wicked and help the innocent. The resulting decree of Sandusky not being allowed to work with children near the football facilities clearly implied, as ESPN's Jay Bilas said Wednesday, "just don't do this here."
A sexual predator was allowed to go free to rape who knows how many more children. A man who should be riding with honor into the sunset stubbornly held on until the school's board did the only thing they could and fired him, effective immediately. The greatest tragedy, of course, is the untold number of young victims lost in this. Young boys at the time who needed a hero and thought they'd found it in Sandusky. Instead, they encountered the worst kind of evil -- one that seeks out the vulnerable, befriends them and then forces them to his own sick bidding.
Coaches have a special place in our society. They're often the most important male figure in a young's man's life, next to a father. Sadly, it's become more common for the coach to be the only one to fill that role. That was the story with Sandusky, and he twisted it for his own means. On that day in 2002, Paterno had the opportunity to stop it. The best, possible benefit of the doubt you could give him was he was distracted by preparations for the upcoming season. Even that falls pathetically short. Having become the face of Penn State, maybe he saw himself as its protector and wanted to hide the ugly scandal that would follow such news.
My boss and I were talking this over the other day. I asked: How does a school and program known for its integrity end up in this position? How can you not report this when you've put yourself on such a pedestal?
He pointed out I'd answered my own question. Maintaining the image had become more important than making the tough decisions that come with living by it.
Had Joe Paterno gone to the police that day, it would've brought scandal. It would've greatly damaged recruiting. Yes, it would've hurt the football program and Penn State would have paid a price. It wouldn't have been the price being paid today though, where Happy Valley has indeed become a dark place to be.
Scott Barkley is production editor of the Christian Index (ChristianIndex.org), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention. This column first appeared at Barkley's blog, hearingit.wordpress.com
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