This, from Sister Pat Farrell, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the vice president of the Sisters of St. Francis in Dubuque, Iowa:
And if those issues become points of conflict, it's because Women Religious stand in very close proximity to people at the margins, to people with very painful, difficult situations in their lives. That is our gift to the church. Our gift to the church is to be with those who have been made poorer, with those on the margins. Questions there are much less black and white because human realities are much less black and white. That's where we spend our days."
The Vatican is sending a team of bishops -- I'm imagining the long, slow-mo tracking shot of them walking down a hallway toward an interrogation room -- to put the sisters back in line on social issues like sexuality and reproductive rights. That's gonna go well.
a.) She forgot her flag b.) Her shoes got muddy and there wasn't time to clean them off before the photo c.) She's really Jack Lemmon in drag
Check out SI.com's gallery of Olympic Fashion Through The Years, including the fly ladies of 1920, above. They're not all medal-worthy looks [Aside to Hungary '80: Look in the mirror and remove one accessory, dear] but damn, those Lithuanians knew how to party back in the 9-2.
I’m talking to all of you, or at least, to the hundreds of thousands of alumni and friends living in the Philadelphia area. Where do we take our school next?
When I last wrote about this, one of the questions fellow alumni had was about what we can do going forward. The alumni I talk to who are remaining loyal to the school aren't doing so to preserve Joe Paterno's legacy. Collectively, there is a genuine interest in how we can address the penalties, acknowledge the shortcomings and craft a future for Penn State.
First -- please don’t sweat the $73 million in combined penalties from the NCAA and Big Ten, or Gov. Corbett's foot-stomping about protecting taxpayers. Because if there’s one thing PSU knows how to do, it’s raise money. And Penn Staters know how to give: In recent years, big-name alums have donated hundreds of millions of dollars -- much for sports, yes, but also for study of the law, food sciences, cancer research, and honors education.
So it’s not about the money. It’s about punishment and penance for the entire city-state of Happy Valley.
Like the removal of the statue and the plaques behind it, the NCAA's cancellation of several seasons worth of football wins was a literal prying away of the physical traces of the Paterno years. It's about public shaming on the NCAA's part, and institutional preservation on PSU's.
In this way, it's very much not about the game of football, but the sacrament of sport.
Obviously it’s no coincidence that I keep using Catholic imagery. So much of Penn State is now exposed as having indulged the same kind of systematic moral failings as the Church in its own child sex abuse scandal. JoePa was a father figure, a grandfather figure, a head of state whose many undeniable good works are undermined and overshadowed now by critical errors in leadership and lack of moral clarity when it mattered most.
[It also bears noting that the secular, public university has already been held more publicly accountable, showed more genuine humility, and been more welcoming of correction, than the Church will likely ever be.]
Someone asked what I thought of the timing, of workers removing the statue in the quiet of a State College Sunday morning, covered from public view with blue tarps like a crime scene. It seemed about right, I said. Let’s face it, the bronze monument was never going to be felled in some Saddam Hussein-style public uprising. Nor are students and alumni in any mood to riot to keep it there.
But with some obsessing on the question -- Will the statue stay? -- to the point of flying banner planes over University Park, Penn State’s leaders had two choices. Either take it down and end the discussion for now, or make a public statement of support saying the statue was staying put. And that couldn’t happen, what with the alcove off Curtin Road already turning into a shrine to a martyred saint.
To me, the timing that really matters is the year 1998, which now seems fixed as the point at which any further abuse by Jerry Sandusky could have -- and should have -- been stopped.
What the NCAA decided, and the university signed off on by signing the consent decree, is the notion that Paterno’s coaching career effectively ended in 1998, too. Canceling out every Penn State win from 1998 on (when McQueary was quarterback and Ray Gricar was Centre County’s District Attorney) is a direct arrow in the side of the Paterno legacy, a most personal strike.
And you’d better believe the Paterno loyalists are taking it personally.
On one Penn State Alumni Facebook page I frequent, the level of denial about the Freeh Report is approaching moon-landing-hoax levels of ridiculousness. They’re mad as hell -- at the trustees, at Louis Freeh, at the media (naturally), at Mark Emmert, and at Tom Corbett -- especially Tom Corbett, but I suspect that's because many voted for him. (I assure you, they won’t again.)
Time and again I’ve seen people try to make rational points about the failure of leadership at Penn State and be shouted down by the Paterno absolutists, for whom preserving the win total and maintaining “the brand” are paramount.
It’s time to tune out that noise, to let actions speak louder than the rantings.
Does "gay it up" mean go in and act dumb and reinforce a bunch of stereotypes? Or does "gay it up" mean non-ridiculous gay people going in with their kids and watching them climb all over the germ delivery apparatus, er, play equipment.
Isn't withholding your business from Chick-Fil-A the best way to show disapproval of their anti-gay corporate worldview? I'm struggling with this one, because those nuggets are so very delicious.
Can we stop talking about what's going to happen to the Paterno shrine now?
It hurt like hell to wake up Sunday to see the statue come down, and the look on Jack's face when I told him made me catch my breath. I said Joe hadn't shown leadership when he didn't call the police, that he didn't protect the kids when Jerry Sandusky was abusing them at Penn State. Factually correct, yet hardly enough words to contain all the heartbreak.
A friend reminded me that this is what comes of erecting statues to the living. Hard to argue right now. I guess the next questions we'll all obsess on will be what happens to that space on Curtin Road, and -- once again -- what should happen to the JoePa statue?
In my house, there isn’t a room that doesn’t bear at least some evidence of my relationship with Penn State. Since the child sex assault scandal began unfolding last year, only one piece of my Penn State collection went into the trash can.
It was a dark-blue T-shirt, with a sketch of Joe Paterno’s face and the words LET GO AND LET JOE in white, a play on the old saw about turning your troubles over to the Lord, trusting he’ll handle everything.
In hindsight, I see how deeply bizarre that sounds, and how perfectly it sums up how and why we got here. The shirt (bought at Cheesesteak Tees, I think) just seemed funny, so ironically over-the-top that only another Penn Stater would understand. It went into the garbage when the thought of wearing it left me feeling disgusted and ashamed, and afraid of what else we didn’t know.
With the Freeh Report released, we know more than ever and it’s nothing short of horrifying. The report isn’t just a retelling of how there were “more red flags than we could count,” as Freeh said, nor is it about pinning it all on the dead guy as others insist (they’re wrong).
It confirms things we didn't want to accept about all of the men running the university, including the one to whom they all deferred. It proves that “let go and let Joe” was the guiding principle at Penn State. It wasn't the law and it certainly was not compassion for those boys.
Those boys. Some the same age my son was when we took him to his first game, dressed him in PSU gear and waved to President Spanier as he passed by in a minibus on the way back from Beaver Stadium. Nobody cared enough to do anything for those boys.
Let go and let Joe.
Everyone knows Joe had an effect on people it is accurate to describe as religious. A few words from him could revive exhausted THON dancers and shake loose money from donors’ pockets. His words certainly could have stopped Jerry Sandusky from abusing kids.
Penn State's motto is "Success With Honor."
Imagine the honor that would have come with the success of Joe being the coach who took a public stand for protecting children, the one who refused to tolerate the mere idea of a child abuser in his midst? But even the janitors at the bottom of the blue-and-white food chain knew no good would come of blowing the whistle. Blowing the whistle is the coach’s job.
To the Paterno family, which released its own statement, no sane adult would knowingly cover for a child sex predator. They say if Joe had “understood what Sandusky was,” he would have done more. No one really expects the Paternos to reject their patriarch. But.
Realizing all this hurts. It makes me nauseated, it makes me ashamed I was part of that culture of unquestioning loyalty that let atrocities go on right under JoePa’s famous nose.
Does understanding all these things mean I don’t love Penn State, that I should take my diploma off the wall and send it back? No, it means I believe a better Penn State exists. That there is more good to be done. That I want to do better by its students than was done for those other boys, the ones Sandusky and his enablers destroyed.
A moment keeps coming back to me: Oct. 29, 2011, the weekend of that freaky Halloween snowstorm, when we joined a bunch of Penn State friends to watch the Illinois game. The group of us that had bonded over long nights in the Collegian newsroom gathered in a New Jersey living room to watch on TV, cheering and pointing out Joe to the kids.
Should we have known that would be the last time a big win would give us that kind of pride? That it would be the last time, probably for a long time, that Beaver Stadium would be that innocent universe of joy it became in the moments just after a win?
I’m involved in alumni groups, I mentor students, I give money and time back to my school. None of that changes for me. Some are calling for the football program to be shut down, if not the whole university. Penalties, charges, fines, yes, but dismantle Penn State? Of course not.
Letting the entire institution be defined by one person is our yesterday. I’d rather work to build Penn State’s future. Or maybe, just go back to the start. From the 1941 campus guide for freshmen, via Papergreat:
There is something in Penn State that goes on and on, unchanging even while buildings, faculties, and student bodies come and go. If you find out what that is, you will have found the source of the notable Penn State spirit and loyalty.