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Thought of the day

June 25, 2009

You know, I’m thinking outloud, which I know is dangerous, and I’m thinking that the Ten Commandments, like the Pirate Code, are really more like a sort of guideline.

I know this isn’t a new thought for me, but in light of the political events of the past few days, with yet another Conservative Christian politician showing off their basic underlying humanity in all its messy splendor, it occurs to me to reiterate.

Life is way too nuanced for a hard and fast code – yes it would make it easier to have black and white rules to live by, but it is utterly unrealistic to think 10 rules apply to all human situations uniformly. All laws are open to interpretation in light of the context of their application.

I’m feeling a strange amount of empathy today for Mark Sanford, when normally what I’d feel is schadenfreud. However, recent events in my own life have newly colored my perceptions – I’ve been where Mark is, but by the Grace of God, without being a politician and without having to contend with and swallow my own high handed moral sanctimony on the upfront. I’ve walked some of this walk and can attest to it’s painfulness.

Rachael Maddow has an interesting few segments on the Sanford Press Conference, and Salon’s Gary Kamiya has interesting article up on the “different” quality of Sanford’s press conference, in terms of perhaps giving a glimpse at Sanford’s humanity.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2009 9:06 am

    I thought he handled the press conference/fessing up very sincerly and in a hearfelt way…the problem isn´t the amends, it´s achieving the amends as I could see he is still very passionate about his experience…this is a longterm, deep, emotional obsession I think. Let´s see if he can back away from it and regroup…it won´t be easy but some men enjoy being ¨strong¨ after straying…rebuilding ones heroship is another tangent as far as I´m concerned.

    True, none of it easy. A heterosexual female friend once said to me years ago ¨Don´t judge the adultry…you don´t know the intimate details of all parties concerned¨….true.

  2. June 25, 2009 12:34 pm

    “utterly unrealistic to think 10 rules apply”?

    The commandments aren’t particularly oppressive. God didn’t prohibit fornication, and I don’t think that he was absent-minded, nor that he couldn’t spell “fornication.” Marriage isn’t a license to screw; it’s a partnership 24/7, intended to last the rest of your life. Adulteration of the wedding bed isn’t really about sex. It’s about violation of trust.

    If I had a wife order me out of the house two weeks before, I would consider the marriage to be over, despite the paperwork and the legal niceties. And I’d want to crawl into a hole somewhere and hide for a while, and lick my emotional wounds. If someone was there to provide emotional support, to help make me whole again, I’d welcome that, and I would consider it a matter of “love ye one another”.

    When a marriage ends, it’s a tragedy. and sometimes, when a marriage ends but remains legally intact, it’s a substantially greater tragedy. Life alone is a terribly difficult existance, and when you find someone you can love and trust to be your flywheel, to help you through the rugged times, it’s a such precious thing that to interfere with it is profoundly wrong.

    The governor’s wife sounds like, well, the technical term for a mommy canine, but she’s suffering, too, so I don’t know who’s at fault. There’s usually enough blame to go around for everyone to be ashamed, and never enough information for an outsider to judge.

    When I was running a newspaper decades ago, I’d have had minimal coverage of this. Private tragedy should be allowed to play out in private, not on the public stage. Taking a week’s vacation, turning off the cell phone, should not be considered an affront to the public. Politicians think their jobs are more important than they are anyway; we ought not encourage them to think they are indispensable. It’s not like Tennessee is going to launch a nuclear attack on the Carolinas, and Governor Sanford needs to respond within twelve minutes.

    • episcopalifem permalink*
      June 25, 2009 1:55 pm

      Harle – Agreed – all the way around – except for the part that would have made me feel schadenfreud if this wasn’t hitting me so close to home: the fact that Sanford moonlights as a sanctimonious PRICKTARD on this issue when it wasn’t himself. That is the part that causes the disconnect for me: not that he proved human – but that he railed that this was subhuman end of the world causing behavior amongst his opponents. I’m hoping this will be a mind broadening experience for him and will help him to view his past politicking in a new light.

  3. Sherry permalink
    June 25, 2009 1:29 pm

    See I don’t begrudge him the error, we all make them, and this one is made by a slue of folks. What I do begrudge him is the sanctimoneous Rethug clap trap about how immoral Democrats are. Sanford publically vilified Clinton for the same conduct. I don’t think he deserves his Governorship certainly. Beyond that it’s none of my business. But he claimed Clinton should resign, so now he should.

    Overall, I agree with your assessment, that many of us have been where he is. But consequences are what they are.

    • episcopalifem permalink*
      June 25, 2009 2:10 pm

      I think that was basically Maddow’s point: he seems to be disconcertingly honest and forthright in his press conference when talking about his current private affairs – but he’s left the people who voted for him, and for whom his battle cry for Christian honesty and integrity were a major selling point, with big question marksregarding Sanford’s capacity to be dishonest when serves his own self-interest. So, in other words, he’s hurt his fan base.

      This is, of course, the same line of argument conservatives used against Clinton when they sought to impeach him for his little bout of in-office, extramarital felatio. Bill, however, never sold himself as a moralist. In honesty, we should have all known exactly what he was about when he told us he didn’t smoke pot because he never inhaled, ya know? That was on the campaign trail. Semantics. Shades of Gray.

      Personally, I do believe people live in compartmentalized ways, and that people who make questionable or disastrous decisions in their personal lives are often quite capable of being level-headed and straight forward in their professional lives – and vice versa. Being a schmuck in your love life, doesn’t mean you are a schmuck in every aspect of your life

      Part of me wants to smack him for being the sanctimonious pricktard he is, and the other part of me wants to applaud what his adherence to the “fuck it” principle – walking away from what he “should do”, toward what he felt he needed to do as a human being. That couldn’t have been easy.

      Additionally, it’s obvious he loves this other woman – I HIGHLY doubt Bill Clinton loved Monica – at least no where near as much as he loved himself.

  4. June 25, 2009 11:47 pm

    The problem with the “guideline rather than rule” approach is that the intelligent, the rich, the powerful, can always rationalize, can always find a greater good coinciding with their desires.

    There is nothing harder for a powerful person to grasp than the concept that there are things they absolutely are not to do.

    • June 26, 2009 1:46 am

      The powerful are given to rationalizing, but nobody else is?

    • episcopalifem permalink*
      June 26, 2009 4:04 pm

      Hi Rick – This comment brings to mind another movie line:

      “With great power comes great responsibility.” Ben Parker, Spiderman

  5. June 26, 2009 7:12 am

    Everyone rationalizes, but the rich, the powerful and the intelligent tend to get away with it, at least before human tribunals.

  6. Grace permalink
    June 26, 2009 1:32 pm

    I’m often left bemusing on how so many in public office today are reaping what they’ve sowed in areas where they’ve shown judgementalism and hypocrisy.

    Frankly, I don’t think we’ve seen even the tip of the iceburg on the stuff that lies just below the surface of the Right.

    • June 26, 2009 3:43 pm

      Fifty years ago, the Republican party was made of honest conservatives like Buckley and Goldwater, moderate conservatives like Rockefeller, and radical reactionaries like Welch and the John Birch Society.

      The moderates have long since been driven out of the GOP, and the last of the honest conservatives are calling themselves independents these days. There’s nothing wrong with protecting and defending the Constitution, and favoring minimalistic government; indeed, performing acts of Christian charity voluntarily is highly commendable. The descendants of the Birchers, who have control of the GOP these days, aren’t interested in acts of charity, either voluntary or as government programs. They’re what Bloody Mary, in “South Pacific” termed “stingy stinkers”, what Barry Goldwater called the “representation without taxation” crowd.

      You’ve mangled the metaphor mercilessly – the tip of the iceberg is the part that isn’t below the surface – but I know where you’re coming from, and I agree.

      Part of the problem is that the fundamentalists have built a religion organizations that worships human leaders instead of God, and worship the Bible instead of treating it as a tool to learn about the context of ancient life.

      And while faith is of immeasurable value, ignorance is nothing to be proud of. The Jesuits show us that it’s possible to have extreme rigor in scholarship and still have rock solid faith. As main line protestants, we need to let people know that you don’t have to leave your brains at home in order to be a good Christian; in fact, God prefers that you do think.

      For too many decades, we’ve let the fundamentalists take the lead, and as a result, more and more Americans are unchurched. It’s time for us to once again assume our responsibilities.

    • episcopalifem permalink*
      June 26, 2009 3:55 pm

      Agreed – it’s called PROJECTION. I’ll abhor something vehemently in you that I actually abhor in myself and I am currently doing, but you can’t know that, because it’s so unacceptable, I can’t accept it, so I’ll just pretend you do it, that it’s wrong, until I convince myself and make it stop.


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