Open to hear: An article recommendation in light of the #SupremeCourt
It has been a heavy September. I've had many people in my community and among my acquaintances face death, illness and hospitalization this month. There are the daily stressors, late buses, rain. There are hurricanes in the Carolinas and typhoons in the Philippines and China.
Still, people were willing to come to the antiquated, sometimes morally compromised American church, and seek Jesus together once again. It was a risk in a world that has become cynical and untrusting, to walk into a group of strangers and discuss the Bible and ask for prayer requests.
In this openness and risk, though, I felt the presence of God among us. People were willing to listen to one another, and to pray. It felt powerful.
Like most of America, I've been following the saga of Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination battle. At first, I basically thought Kavanaugh would be fine. He coached his daughter's basketball team. How bad could he be?
As the saga has continued, I've become more apprehensive. I watched as he turned away from the father of a child who was killed in the Parkland shooting, who sought to shake Kavanaugh's hand. I can understand the immense pressure and stress that was upon Kavanaugh in that moment. But refusing to shake a person's hand, no matter who they were, said something about him, I thought. It communicated a certain egoism, a sense of entitlement and isolation. It unnerved me.
Then this week came the revelation of accusation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh when he was a high school student at an elite boys' prep school, that he drunkenly forced himself upon a girl at the party, until she escaped. Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, came forward publicly, igniting an eruption of partisan anger and squabbling, of accusations tossed back and forth on both sides, statements of regret and lament for the trial that Kavanaugh was about to endure.
As the wife of a man and the mother of two boys, I am sensitive to the idea that a false accusation of sexual misconduct could do irreparable damage to a man. There must be a place for listening, for investigating, for a realization of humanity on both sides of the story.
Still, all too often I find that that lack of humanity and listening occurs toward the side of the woman. I notice how many statements about Blasey Ford do not mention her name. She has a name. I realize that by virtue of her own relative wealth and prestige, Blasey Ford will receive some greater respect and listening in the media and in the nation. She will still be vilified, though, and her life will never be the same; though by her account of the story her life was already never the same from the violent attack that took place before she was even legally able to vote.
I was struck too by Kavanaugh's blanket denial, using words like "categorically" and "unequivocally" and "never." Most of us know, "never say never." Kavanaugh's episodes of drinking heavily as a young person seem fairly well-documented. How could he be so certain, having had so many times when he was so drunk? I am not a judge, yet I have enough judgment of myself to hesitate before so quickly pardoning myself for past misdeeds, especially those that may have occurred while I was under the influence.
Kavanaugh is also Catholic, a faith tradition which ostensibly places a high value on penance. Penance, I believe, in this situation would go a long way. It seems unlikely that "nothing" happened. But truth is hard to find when minds and hearts are closed, determined and set in their own ways of defining the other side evil and intractable.
In the midst of all this noise, I read an important article that I want to share with you. Written by Elizabeth Bruenig, a young writer with fine sensibility and a Catholic, spiritual soul, it tells the story of a girl in Bruenig's high school who made an accusation of rape against a couple of boys in the class. The ignominy, shame, and community sin that followed are tough - but important - to read. Bruenig's article reminds us that the sin of a community who will not listen, who will not cater to the meek or the poor but instead devours them, is a mortal sin. It is a sin that stains not only Bruenig's high school or her Texas town, but the whole American nation.
I really recommend reading the story here.