Billy Graham’s grandson takes Christians to task: An interview with Tullian Tchividjian | On Faith & Culture

“The law offends us because it tells us what to do–and we hate anyone telling us what to do, most of the time. But, ironically, grace offends us even more because it tells us that there’s nothing we can do, that everything has already been done. And if there’s something we hate more than being told what to do, it’s being told that we can’t do anything, that we can’t earn anything–that we’re helpless, weak, and needy.

The law, at least, assures us that we determine our own destiny—we get to maintain control, the outcome of our life remains in our hands. Give me three steps to a happy marriage and I can guarantee myself a happy marriage if I follow the three steps. If we can do certain things, meet certain standards (whether God’s, my own, my parents, my spouse’s, society’s, whatever) and become a certain way, we’ll make it. Law seems safe because it breeds a sense of manageability. It keeps life formulaic and predictable. It keeps earning-power in our camp. The logic of law makes sense. The logic of grace doesn’t.

Grace is thickly counter-intuitive. It feels risky and unfair. It turns everything that makes sense to us upside-down. It’s not rational. It offends our deepest sense of justice and rightness. It wrestles control out of our hands and destroys our safe, conditional world.”

via Billy Graham’s grandson takes Christians to task: An interview with Tullian Tchividjian | On Faith & Culture.

Read this whole interview.  Really.

The Backstory: Moving on to Mom

I’ll return to Dad’s story in a bit.  Let me backtrack now to fill in some of Mom’s.

About 20 minutes north of my dad’s coal town lies Scottdale, a small community with some of the coolest old houses ever.

The Green Mansion in Scottdale, PA. I *love* the rounded room / corner of the house and wraparound porches.
The Green Mansion in Scottdale, PA. I *love* the rounded room / corner of the house and wraparound porches.

Of course, most people didn’t live in a house that cool.  Scottdale was founded as a mill / mining town. The thousands of coke ovens all over Western PA processed unending streams of coal out of the mountain coal mines, which was then taken by railroad or barge to Pittsburgh to fuel the mighty steel industry.

My mom Nancy was born the 2nd child of 4 to a man with an 8th grade education and a drinking habit. Her mom, a devout Christian (Methodist), seemed to be the glue for the family.  Her dad’s family lineage probably traces back to Swedish immigrants in the late 1700s; her mom’s line is strongly English and Welsh, with deep roots in central PA and Maryland.

Mom got very fair skin and red hair as a physical heritage from her Swedish-English roots.  Combine that with my dad’s Italian genes, and I might make more sense to you now. 🙂

Though my mom’s Depression-era life (a few years  behind my dad) was marked by a similar poverty, her home life seemed happier. She didn’t tell a lot of stories about growing up, but I know little things… the 4 kids shared a single pair of roller skates.

These never look very comfortable.
These never look very comfortable.

Actually, I remember being amazed when my little Christian school started doing skating parties (all the rage in the 80s!) and my mom got on the rink with her brother to waltz, two-step, and accomplish other amazing feats on skates.

Nobody expects their mom to bust a move like that, especially when wearing 10 pound roller skates. (This was pre-roller-blade.)

Being poor, no one in their community (technically “Browntown,” just outside Scottdale) owned a ball to play with, so when the kids in town wanted to play a game, they borrowed a ball from the local PE teacher who lived down the street.  Or just threw rocks instead. (Not making that up.)

By the time my mom graduated high school in the mid-50s, she was ready to move out and get started on life.  College was out of the question – though I can see now that my mom would have made an excellent teacher, the family didn’t have the resources to send her to college, and she wasn’t the oldest kid anyway.

So she did what kids were supposed to do back then:  turn 18 and go get a job.  As a secretary.

When Good People Do Nothing: The Appalling Story of South Carolina’s Prisons – Andrew Cohen – The Atlantic

Disgusting.  Appalling.  Excruciating.

Please take time to read the article and then do something about it. If you live in South Carolina, talk to your legislators. If you don’t, call someone here anyway.  This must stop.

Willful abuse of the mentally ill, even if they have been convicted of a crime, is inhumane and despicable.   And I’m not surprised that it’s happening here, a state that values its social services so little I’m amazed we even have infrastructure left.

On Wednesday, in one of the most wrenching opinions you will ever read, a state judge in Columbia ruled that South Carolina prison officials were culpable of pervasive, systemic, unremitting violations of the state\’s constitution by abusing and neglecting mentally ill inmates. The judge, Michael Baxley, a decorated former legislator, called it the \”most troubling\” case he ever had seen and I cannot disagree. Read the ruling. It\’s heartbreaking.

The evidence is now sadly familiar to anyone who follows these cases: South Carolina today mistreats these ill people without any evident traces of remorse.  Even though there are few disputed material issues of law or fact in the case, even though the judge implored the state to take responsibility for its conduct, South Carolina declared before the sun had set Wednesday that it would appeal the ruling—and thus likely doom the inmates to years more abuse and neglect. That\’s not just \”deliberate indifference,\” the applicable legal standard in these prison abuse cases. That is immoral.

But what makes this ruling different from all the rest—and why it deserves to become a topic of national conversation—is the emphasis Judge Baxley placed upon the failure of the good people of South Carolina to remedy what they have known was terribly wrong since at least 2000. Where was the state\’s medical community while the reports piled up chronicling the mistreatment of these prisoners? Where was the state\’s legal community as government lawyers walked into court year after year with frivolous defenses for prison policies? Where were the religious leaders, the ones who preach peace and goodwill?

via When Good People Do Nothing: The Appalling Story of South Carolina’s Prisons – Andrew Cohen – The Atlantic.