Friday, July 24, 2009

Being a Reproach

What is most likely to bring disgrace on a nation or cause an elderly ultra-Orthodox religious man to be led away in handcuffs? Underhanded schemes usually involving money and power. But what is done in secret will be brought into the light.

After reading the Associated Press article about the trafficking of kidneys and laundering of money from Israel to America, I am increasingly appalled by the disgraceful actions of religious leaders and the corruption of government officials.

"Righteousness exalts a nation but sin (wrong doing) is a reproach to any people."

--Proverbs 14:34


rebecca said...

Trust me.
I am a man of faith.
I do not lie.
I honor life.
I practice what I preach.
My garb reveals the moral and ethical ways in which I live my life.
Trust me.


Sorry, Judith, right now I have no words. Disgusting.

Judith Ellis said...

Oh, Rebecca, I know how you feel. I was so disgusted seeing this picture as well as all of the other rabbis and government officials that I wanted to puke. But I am so very glad that it came out. I will say this. It has undoubtedly been going on for a very long time. You don't just wake up and become corrupt over night. You can't be that old and have not practiced corruption until yesterday.

The garb line in your words above made me think that this is the kind of sanctimonious religious spirit that Christ hated about the Sadducees and Pharisees--the whole outward appearance stuff and this goes for any religious group, including priests and bishops of any religious order or faith.

rebecca said...

Which brings to mind the saying, "appearances can be deceiving."

Isn't that the way, though, across the board? What about what we find pleasing to the eye and attractive we equate as safe or trusting or kind or good? Sometimes beauty hides many questionable and ugly things. And men of faith have known this since the beginning of time. We never question what we should be questioning sometimes because we want to 'believe' that the beauty of the Church/Christ/God and all of its inherent goodness and tenets lie within that human garbed heart.

Judith Ellis said...

God knows I do not want to sound self-righteous or pious. I have most certainly made my share of foolish errors, although by far less now. God help me if I am making such mistakes in my late 70's or early 80's. How old do you think this rabbi is? Shameful! What an old fool, eh?

There is also something to be said for honest mistakes and conscious continous corrupt behavior. From what I have read it is obvious that the latter is the case here. I must say that I have always been the type that is out with it all. I have NEVER EVER been the type of deceitful person who says one thing and lives another.

My family has a very rich religious history of which I am very proud. It is a history of servant-leadership. But I have not always been pleased with the men of the clergy. There are, however, a great many who seek to do the honorable thing every day of the week. I met many priests and nuns when I lived in Italy who were among the most precious people that I had come to know.

I certainly would not want to indict others because of some. But I most certainly believe that many need to be expoused for the good of the nation and the world at large. There are too many underhanded dealings going on across the board. My desire is that we each will look at ourselves honestly when things come out publicly. I tend to.

We can get to a better more honest place if we are willing. This I am confident of.

septembermom said...

So true about money being the root of all evil. Quite disheartening to see such greed and corruption among religious and government leaders.

Judith Ellis said...

Hey septembermom - I think that scripture says that "the LOVE of money is the root of all evil," not that money itself is evil. Scripture also says that "money answers all things." It is when our pursuit of money dominates our lives that matters; money then becomes our reason for being, substituting ethics, morality, family and love.

Anonymous said...

There is something positive that can be said about this. They were caught and there is no one who is prominant in the media or politics who would support the actions of these men.
But there are media personalities and members of congress who have proudly gone record to say they want the health care plan to fail because it will be Obama's Waterloo. These men are willing to destroy something that is needed to make this country more competitive as well as a better place to live all in the name of political power. As Bill Marr said recently, these men are flat out unpatriotic.

Judith Ellis said...

Anon - I totally agree with you about those in Congress who impede progress for political reasons and bring nothing to the table. These people are against the will of the People. I would also agree that for those who do such things are indeed unpatriotic. It looks like Senator McCain is on the side of the People with regards to this issue. But I must say that I deem what he did in choosing Sarah Palin as utterly unpatriotic and self-serving. All such people should be voted out of office. I am also in favor of term limits. I sincerely believe that the Founding Fathers intended for members of Congress to go back and live under the laws they legislated. Also, after a while it's just time for new voices and new ideas, let alone fresh faces.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about McCain and his un-patriotic move when he chose Palin. I just watched Carl Bernstien say the same thing.

Judith Ellis said...

Anon - You will find that from the very moment McCain made that choice that I wrote of it here in the very same way. Nothing has changed.

John O'Leary said...

What's fascinating to me is that this is the first time I can recall rabbis being accused of crimes - as opposed to Catholic priests, Protestant televangelists, Indian gurus, Muslem sheiks, etc. That says something positive to me about Judaism.

Wow, after getting back to Boston after a short vacation, all I'm hearing on local media is Gates/Crowley 24/7. Even on the sports talk shows! There's a lot of heat being generated but not much light. I'm STILL looking for thoughtful, civil discourse (without hyperbole and sarcasm) on conservative radio and have yet to find it.

Judith Ellis said...

Interesting assessment, John. It could also say something about covert actions, as it is highly unlikely that this has just begun. As with the Catholic priest sex scandal, I wonder if the problem is more wide spread and insidious than we think or now know.

I think it is completely erroneous to think that a group of people are more righteous than others. Usually it boils down to politics and pay offs. We just don't hear about it. But, thank God, what is done in secret will come out into the light and that goes for any organization, political or spiritual.

There is a role for each of us to play in building a more ethical society. We must DEMAND it, beginning with each one of us. I always begin with me, even when it hurts like hell. I pray that I will never begin anywhere else.

Regarding the Gates/Crowley situation, it is incredibly disheartening the words spoken by Limbaugh and his ilk. But we expect such from these. Unjust police profiling of minorities is a reality. When this happened to Professor Gates on the Harvard campus, I could not help but to think of my African American nephews on the streets of New York, California, and Michigan: educated, young, artistic, compassionate, BUT black.

Are they safe?

rebecca said...

Hi Judith,

Sorry, I was just now able to respond to your last response to me.

First, I would say that rabbi is in his mid-80s? And, it was only a matter of time that rabbis got thrown into the mix of the not-so-holy. I believe that good and bad exists across all races and religions and find it interesting when a person judges an entire race/religion based on the actions of the few that have chosen to lead a dishonest life. It is never about the race or religion, it is about the person. If only we could learn that and move forward. Plus, I suppose a bit of ego and ignorance are involved also, don't you think? Many always believe they or theirs are better than the next.

As far as the Gates/Obama situation, friends and I were discussing this over the weekend and what I found interesting is that many of us had already chosen our 'sides.' Some believed that Obama should have not given his personal opinion based solely on who he is - namely President - and should have taken a neutral side whether what he said was true or not. I can see this point of view and respect that and it may be the point of view of many, but I still believe and hold to the fact that he said nothing wrong and was merely stating the obvious. Blacks and Hispanics in this country are racially profiled/discriminated on a daily basis and kudos to him for having said that. Again, I seem to be in the minority here. In addition, someone stated that since Gates is an intellect, he should have used reason and not let his emotions get in the way. Again, good point, yet a certain part of me wonders when enough is enough and everyone has a breaking point, intellectual or not. This is all very interesting and I wonder how, in the end, it will resolve itself. Will the President be successful in ironing out the 'mess' created by all of this or will Gates go forth and sue nonetheless. Now. had it been my man Cornel West, I would've sided with the police and probably deduced the brother instigated it...LOL! Oh, I love that man! I adore his militant and 'right on' intellect mind and would've loved to see how that would have played out! I don't think President Obama would have been the least bit successful in getting this man to change his mind and would have had his hands full with him -- both he and the Police!

Judith Ellis said...

Hey Rebecca - Now that's really funny about Cornel West. LOL! I had the pleasure a few years back of spending some time with him and he is not only just but fair. He is a man of honesty and truth who sincerely loves ALL people and deeply believes in brotherhood and sisterhood across racial lines. We are misguided if we think otherwise.

We have to also always understand the perspective that any one of us speaks from. Dr. Gates and Dr. West, both Ivy League grads and professors at Ivy League schools, have undoubtedly experienced racial inequalities and while they are intellectuals and wise, they are indeed human. Also, I think anyone, regardless of race, would have felt like their civil rights were being intruded upon in such a situation. This is what my family and friends, black and white, have been speaking about.

With regards to President Obama, I thought it was good to see a less measured leader. While he speaks for all of Americans, leaders are also human, not to mention that Dr. Gates is a personal friend. Undoubtedly they will be spending time on the Vineyards while he vactions with friends who also own summer cottages there.

Your point about judging the person and not a group is a good one. I went to a magnet middle school in Detroit that was divided along racial lines, 50/50. My neighborhood was nearly all black and our church, which was founded by my great grandfather and pastored by my uncle had 10,000 members who were also mostly black. My mother was determined that we experience other cultures and stood in line to make sure that we had the opportunity not only to go to the best schools but to associate with people of other backgrounds.

Well, the movie, Roots, came out that year and I remember looking at my white friends with new eyes. They looked like the slave owners, but were they like them? What had changed from the first episode of Roots to that day? They had not changed, but my view of them had. I wrestled with this for a few days until I realized that they were completely oblivious to my inner struggles. For them, I had not changed at all. I asked if they had even seen the episodes. Most hadn't. I got over it and my love for them has not changed to this day.

Judging people individually is paramount. Thank you for that very important point, Rebecca.

rebecca said...


Regarding Dr. West, I absolutely agree and know he is a man of peace, above all, but it is his passion and his fight for racial justice that I was referring to; I agree, anyone who felt that their civil rights were being impinged upon would've reacted the same way, regardless of who they were. And yet I find that those that have been discriminated the most in this world are the ones that are the most just and fair because they/we (I include myself as a Hispanic woman) know what it is to be looked at and treated differently and we never, ever want to make another feel the same. It is something borne deep within the soul when a person has been discriminated and led to believe that we are less than. So, the fight is always there - what I call the militant self - and the desire to be treated equally and to be heard and to be respected is something we seek but, sadly, do not always get.

How lucky of you to know him. He is one of my favorite speakers and his mind just blows me away. I can literally sit for hours and hear him speak without making a sound because I never want to miss one single word. He is inspirational and plants those seeds in your mind for you to grow.

Thank you, Judith, I so enjoy coming her because I learn so much from you.

Judith Ellis said...

Rebecca - I appreciate the words you write on your blog. They are thoughtful and funny. I both laugh and think when I pass through. Thank you also for the words that you write here that cause me to see things differently and affirm the beauty and struggle of our human experience. I sincerely thank you, friend.

John O'Leary said...

While I agree that we should examine the ethical decisions of individuals, they are often affected by the "culture" of the system they are a part of. For example the Catholic clergy combines a history of patriarchy, misogyny, secrecy & denial, and (at times) a depraved, Jansenistic view of sexuality. This has been a combustible mix for over a thousand years. The latest manifestation of this has been the decades-old cover-up of pedophilia by priests. The pedophilia of a few individuals could have been quickly stopped if it wasn't for this culture. And this is just one example. I could make the same argument for other religious cultures that protect their leaders from criminal scrutiny.

BTW, Judith, you might want to blog about the "Family" at C Street in Washington, DC - a right-wing political-religious cult. That's an AMAZING story that's still developing.

Judith Ellis said...

What culture approves or negates can make a big difference. You have made a most excellent point, John. Thank you.

Yes, I've been hearing about "C Street." Wow! At first I saw nothing wrong with a group of men who wanted to hold each other accountable. This is what "family" and friends do; they speak truth even when we don't want to hear it.

At our church, for example, there are both women and men who meet regularly to share concerns and are essentially support systems for each other. I think this is good, as it builds trust and community.

"C Street," which is a "church" is sounding more like a group of religious right men who essentially uphold the unethical behaviors of each other while castigating others. It seems as if these married men had their girls right there under the roof of their church."

It is precisely this kind of self-righteous self-serving behavior that Christ exposed. Governor Sanford, in all of his self-righteous glory, seemed more ashamed of behavior because of the negative light shown upon "C Street" and the other "church" members more than his wife and four sons during his press conference.