Friday, May 28, 2010
Friday Five: I would put my hand in the fire for that
--Robert Mapplethorpe, Hand in Fire, 1985
There is a German expression: ich würde die Hand dafür ins Feuer legen, which means: “I would put my hand in the fire for that.”
I learned it many years ago, while reading the Best Reference Letter Ever: written by a very distinguished linguistics professor for a student who went on to win a prestigious international scholarship. This student, he said, was destined for greatness; and he submitted his judgment with the certainty of the expression above.
I’ve always held the concept as a very important indicator in my mind. “Would I put my hand in the fire for that?” I sometimes think, and it helps me to make a decision or see a situation more clearly. It’s similar to “is this the battlefield I want to die on?”
These days (certainly as every day) there seems to be so much difficulty, wrong, pain, injustice, and mismanagement in our world, and I need a little revitalization. Often when I feel this way, I’ll write a list of things for which I’m grateful, but that’s certainly been done, and I need a bit of a stronger draught.
So, what are five things for which would you put your hand in the fire? Things / people / causes in which you believe passionately and completely? This might be demonstrated in that you would take extraordinary (for you) action…donations, marching, writing letters…or merely in the way you live your life. You may give as much or as little detail as you wish.
So difficult th even think about. I really don't want to put my hand in fire for anything. That said, here are some things I care deeply about:
1. Clean Air and Water- They won't last forever. Especially clean water. And the water will put that burning hand out!
2. The rights of all people to live equally, not just the heterosexual white people. The spanish, the blacks, the gays, the women all the other disenfranchised who may have some of the rights and entitlements but not all of the rights and entitlements, or none of them.
3. The right to worship or not. Even thought I'm still working on this and have recently had a nice Episcopal priest in my new weekend home of Long Beach-he's gay and has a partner.
4. The right to love all the people that I love and to love all the people that I don't even know.
5.The right and the ability to work without fear. And to use the skills as I have been trained to help others.
Not going to put my hand in fire, but I have taken a lot of other risks over the years for some of these rights-alienable.
Who's actually enjoying this?
The current holy father hails from the kinky country of Germany, the home of sadism. I wonder why he didn't start his investigations there rather than picking on American nuns who do the good work of the American church for virtually no money. Could it be that he, too, "who enjoyed and often beat the naked bottoms of the children? Or enjoyed having his beaten?"
from the New York Times:
BERLIN — Deepening the sexual abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, a special investigator released a report on Thursday saying that 205 former students claimed they had been abused in Jesuit schools, including at the prestigious Canisius-Kolleg in Berlin.
The investigator, Ursula Raue, said the actual number could be higher. “We cannot expect to have heard everything yet,” she said. “The question must be asked why the order dealt so dismissively with the well-based information about frequent incidents of sexual abuse in its institutions.”
Father Stefan Dartmann, Germany’s leading Jesuit official, immediately issued a statement acknowledging “with shame and guilt, our failure.”
“I ask for forgiveness,” he said, adding that there was a “widespread mentality in the order, and perhaps still is, that the primary concern was the reputation of the institution and its fellow brothers.”
The report is the latest blow to a church weathering its most serious crisis over sexual abuse, here in Germany and around the world. Pope Benedict XVI, who has faced accusations that he or his subordinates did not take strong enough actions in several cases in Germany and elsewhere, has acknowledged the depth of the problem, this month calling the crisis “truly terrifying.”
The Jesuit order in Germany had asked Ms. Raue to look into allegations of sexual abuse after 25 students came forward alleging abuse at Canisius.
Her report was unsparing in its details. She said 46 Jesuits and nonclerical staff members at the schools had been accused of abuse or of knowing of such crimes without acting.
A priest identified only as Father Eckhart, no longer alive, who was at Canisius-Kolleg, “liked very much to beat” the children. Another priest, called Father Michel, also at that school, was “a sadist who enjoyed and often beat the naked bottoms of the children.”
At three schools, a priest called Father Bertram beat 50 students in a “sadistic sexual” way on their bare or clothed buttocks in the 1970s and 1980s. According to the investigation, Father Bertram underwent years of therapy. Before leaving the order, he confessed in 1991 to having suffered emotional problems that led him to beat children.
“From 1957 to 1990, I beat several hundred children and adolescents of both sexes on their exposed buttocks, in nearly painless symbolic acts of punishment,” he wrote in a report in 1991.
Given that such priests had confessed or acknowledged abuse, Ms. Raue asked why the Jesuit leadership did not take action earlier.