Joe Paterno and what legacies are made of (and how World Magazine & Relevant Magazine got it wrong)

I’ve been reading various posts and listening to commentary on the passing of Joe Paterno this week. Some folks call him a monster. Others (mostly die-hard football fans, I’ve noticed) seem to exclusively focus on Paterno’s winningest football legacy.

But this article by Barnabas Piper, published on World Magazine’s website, caught my interest mainly because it purported to lay out the proper Christian response; ie. “How does our Christian faith direct us in these understandings?

I found the article deeply troubling and worse, directly harmful to the welfare of children.

Piper allows that disregarding Paterno’s legacy “seems almost justified” but then he spends the rest of the article suggesting why Christians should be “willing not to besmirch his legacy with our vitriol and hatred but to know our God is a consuming fire and all Joe’s evil has been dealt with.”

I absolutely disagree. First of all, WE are not besmirching Joe Paterno’s legacy. Joe did that himself. Secondly, there are certain massive failures that really DO destroy legacies. The Bible is full of them.

To suggest that Christians ought to refrain from any kind of judgment about Paterno’s legacy is participate in the same culture of complicity that enabled a molester to repeatedly rape children. Why? Because saying: “Well, let’s just leave it all in God’s hands” is a cop-out. It exonerates us from actually having to advocate for the victims of Paterno’s horrible legacy: innocent children.

Piper also claims that feelings of complicated complexity arise in the wake of Paterno’s passing saying that it’s “the end of his career that so complicates matters.”

Because, honestly, there is nothing really complicated about covering up the sexual abuse of children. There is nothing really complex about actively participating in a complicity of silence that allowed for the ongoing abuse of multiple children. It’s not like this was a one-time ‘lapse’ of judgment. By failing to follow-up, by failing to remove Sandusky from the coaching position, by keeping silent day-after-day-after-day, Joe Paterno definitively wrought his own demise. And worse, the demise of innocent children.

I’m not conflicted about Joe Paterno’s legacy. No, it’s all pretty clear to me. And I say that as a Christian mother.

Piper asks us if we can “reflect on [Paterno's] life and legacy with grace, even if it is conflicted grace?”

Here’s the short answer: no.

Why? Because that is one screwed-up definition of grace. Sure, I can refrain from spewing “vitriol and hatred” but I absolutely refuse to sit back and lovingly reflect on a “conflicted” legacy.

I have a responsibility–no, WE ALL have a responsibility to the safety and well-being of children. I actually find it appalling that the supposed “Christian response” to Paterno’s death precludes any kind of judgment about his legacy. Certainly I leave judgment of Paterno’s immortal soul to God, but that doesn’t mean I refrain from being angry about actions that endanger children. I actually believe such restraint is morally reprehensible!

Lastly, I also read Shaun King’s tribute (honestly, what ELSE am I supposed to call these articles?) to Joe Paterno on Relevant Magazine’s website wherein he actually claims that Paterno was “so great that I think the ultimate story about him will eventually outshine the awful ugliness of a child molestation scandal.” Yes, Paterno was SO great! Except for that one thing. But hey, no worries! That one thing will be easily outshone.

King goes on to suggest that we are ALL Paterno because…at one time or another we’ve neglected our duty to protect children. Really?! This is the logic we’re using now? We ALL enable sexual abuse? And HEY! Stop judging because we ALLLLLLLL are Paterno???!!!!

As a Christian wife and mother to five children I’d really like to know just WHO thinks these arguments in support of Joe Paterno are worthy of publication on major Christian websites?! Because I’m keeping my children far away from whoever thinks this was really A-OK.

I’m so disappointed and offended that World Magazine & Relevant Magazines found these articles worthy of their huge Christian websites.

What does THAT say about the Christian response to the rape of children?

  • http://moonchild11.wordpress.com/ Sarah Moon

    Thank you for this.

  • http://www.diannaeanderson.net/ Dianna

    *applauds* Thank you, Elizabeth! I was so ragey about this that we’re lucky my response (over on my own site) is coherent. So so mad.

  • Glenn Liddy

    Thanks for writing this. I’m a State College resident and I’ve been getting a full dose of these “let’s gloss over the bad stuff” tributes that have been popping up everywhere.

  • LizzyZ

    What was that Jesus said about harming children and a millstone around their neck? You mean there wasn’t a caveat for sports-winning legacies? Disgusting.
    True, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and we have nothing to boast about since grace is free, not of works, but what about justice? God cares about justice. That is why he says that those who harm children would have such consequences they would rather they had been killed by drowning. THAT should tell you something about God sees child molesters and those who protect them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.williamson2 Jason Williamson

    Normally I agree with you completely and perhaps living in State College, Pa (home of Penn State) for the past 15 years should disqualify me from commenting, but I think you are incorrect in your basic understanding of the allegations directed towards Paterno. Our current district attorney wrote a status on Facebook a couple days ago with this to say about the situation:

    Stacie MillerFrom a PA prosecutor on how Joe handled the situation. “I’d like to set something straight for those (even Joepa’s supporters) who are writing and saying Joepa made an error in judgment or failed in his leadership by not calling the police or “following up” on what McQueary told him. He did not make an error or fail to follow up. He did what every other teacher and/or school employee does in Pennsylvania every day. When they learn of such an allegation (usually directly from a student victim), they report it to the guidance office and/or principle, who then reports it to Children & Youth Services, who then notifies police. This is without exception and is and has been accepted protocol in PA for years. It is not the responsibility of the teacher to follow up because he/she expects the administration officials to properly report it. Additionally, the police will not share details of the investigation with the teacher, outside of possibly interviewing him/her. Believe me, we (police) don’t want people doing their own investigation or follow-up. How do I know this? I investigate and prosecute these crimes every day and have done so for 17 years. I’m tired of hearing that Joepa made a mistake by not contacting police. Not only did he follow the law in PA, he followed normal protocol which is in place for a reason. If Joe made a mistake and deserved to be fired, then we should be firing hundreds of teachers every year. Joe did NOT make a mistake and those who say he did have no idea what they are talking about. I hope Freeh and his people look into child abuse reporting protocol in PA so Joepa’s actions can be placed in the proper perspective. I’m sorry this is so long, but it needed to be made clear to those unfamiliar with these investigations, which I imagine is most people.  

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for that clarification. I appreciate that. Still, JoePa wielded measurable power in his university circles. At the least he could have had Sandusky fired or made repeated complaints to make sure that Sandusky WAS fired or placed on leave. I’m sure the net is very wide for people who didn’t follow through when they should have. But even so, Paterno was the head coach. As such, in my mind, he is still bears some significant responsibility.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jason.williamson2 Jason Williamson

        @d8ea917c2be062c342852b7bff7057a5:disqus  It was posted as Stacie Parks-Miller’s FB status from her FB page.

        @elizabethesther:disqus I understand where you are coming from, but then you are moving in the direction of the idea that just because we know of something we should bend our life’s focus towards that one thing. Paterno himself said that he was so disgusted at the time and felt inadequate to deal with the situation beyond what he had already done. Paterno eventually did force Sandusky to retire just by refusing to retire himself. We could speculate that there where other things going on behind the scenes at that point in the story, but no one will know that for sure. It is extremely difficult, knowing the Paternos and their family (children and grandchildren) to even harbor a belief that Joe would have  turned a blind eye to these things. I am going to have to just disagree on the premise of daily and consistent knowledge of Paterno’s character and personality in town. Again, maybe I am disqualified due to being close to the situation, but I have to go with what I have seen personally and what I have heard myself and from others that were personal friends of Joe. 

        • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa

          Jason, I hear your heart, truly I do. There is so much more going on with this horrid example at Penn State..it’s how indifferent The Church has been on matters like this. :(

          My heart goes out to his wife.

        • Holly

          Yeah, you hear that  he was disgusted….but then on the other hand, in his last interview, he says he didn’t really know that things like this happened, that he couldn’t even begin to imagine it…..I’ve heard some people chalk it up to his age, to a type of innocence.  And I could see that….sort of….some elderly people are like that.  But very few, really.  Most of them know…

      • Rachel

        Sandusky had left the Penn State football program rather suddenly several years earlier (then the incident reported by McQueary) after Paterno told Sandusky that he would never be head coach. However, Sandusky had priviledged access to the Penn State football program, locker rooms, etc. and would bring the kids from his (Sandusky’s) charity to games, meet players, spend time at the facilities, etc. Sandusky’s access to the football program’s facilities could have been greatly limited by Paterno if had wanted to do so.

        • Rachel

          At least that is the understanding I have of the time line, etc. 

    • Steph

      I’m skeptical. I’m a trained teacher certified thru ny state and being a mandatory reporter does not mean telling your boss or admin. I’m not sure it would be all that different with other state emPloyees in other states. Can you see that statement anywhere on the district attorney’s website or fb page, or is this something going around Facebook?

    • Anonymous

      Another thought: even if he’d done everything he was LEGALLY required to do, Paterno still had a MORAL obligation to make sure no further children were harmed under his watch.

    • Rachel

      I don’t think there is any question of whether or not Paterno did his legal duty. The question of greatness does not lie solely in the fulfillment of legal obligations but in a man’s moral character. 

      Let us say you had a friend and former close colleague and your assistant came and told you that they had caught that person committing an obvious sexual act with a child in your place of work. After doing your legal duty, would you continue to be socially and professionally involved with that person? Would you continue to allow them to use your facilities, their closeness to you and your program, etc. to increase their work with and access to at-risk children? Wouldn’t you want to at the least distance yourself from that person until you heard that the findings were unfounded? Wouldn’t you want to make sure that if nothing else, your program would not be used again to enable a potential pedeophile to have access to a child?

      What I find despicable is not whether or not Paterno followed up but that both he and McQueary continued to associate with Sandusky. Paterno continued to allow Sandusky access to the Penn State locker room and football facilities. He continued to allow Sandusky to bring children to games and the football program. McQueary played in a charity golf tournament with Sandusky after what he saw. He played in an alumni football game with Sandusky coaching. Both these men continued to give support to Sandusky having access to children. This is most definitely not a question of legality, it is a question of doing the right thing. 

      Was Paterno a great football coach? There is no doubt. Did he have great characteristics? Absolutely. That is not the point. The point is, for whatever reason, he avoided rocking the boot personally or professionally when it came to Jerry Sandusky and many children paid the price. 

    • Rachel

      I don’t think there is any question of whether or not Paterno did his legal duty. The question of greatness does not lie solely in the fulfillment of legal obligations but in a man’s moral character. 

      Let us say you had a friend and former close colleague and your assistant came and told you that they had caught that person committing an obvious sexual act with a child in your place of work. After doing your legal duty, would you continue to be socially and professionally involved with that person? Would you continue to allow them to use your facilities, their closeness to you and your program, etc. to increase their work with and access to at-risk children? Wouldn’t you want to at the least distance yourself from that person until you heard that the findings were unfounded? Wouldn’t you want to make sure that if nothing else, your program would not be used again to enable a potential pedeophile to have access to a child?

      What I find despicable is not whether or not Paterno followed up but that both he and McQueary continued to associate with Sandusky. Paterno continued to allow Sandusky access to the Penn State locker room and football facilities. He continued to allow Sandusky to bring children to games and the football program. McQueary played in a charity golf tournament with Sandusky after what he saw. He played in an alumni football game with Sandusky coaching. Both these men continued to give support to Sandusky having access to children. This is most definitely not a question of legality, it is a question of doing the right thing. 

      Was Paterno a great football coach? There is no doubt. Did he have great characteristics? Absolutely. That is not the point. The point is, for whatever reason, he avoided rocking the boot personally or professionally when it came to Jerry Sandusky and many children paid the price. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/jason.williamson2 Jason Williamson

        There are reports and those that live in State College know that Paterno and Sandusky were not and have not been friends. Paterno is the main reason why Sandusky “retired” when he did. 

         Also, I am not sure that Paterno had the power to restrict access across the board like you think. Tim Curley (the athletic director) would have had that kind of power, but I am not sure Paterno could have restricted access so completely. It isn’t like their offices were close to each other’s. The athletic dept at PSU is pretty gigantic and spread out between a bunch of different buildings. 

        • Rachel

          Yes. I did a little more research. Sandusky’s locker keys were taken away as of the 2002 incident. However, as of 2009, Sandusky was still holding overnight football clinic camps for kids on Penn State’s Erie campus. Whether or not Paterno could have done anything about it, who knows? He had given huge amounts of money and prestige to Penn State (there is a library in his name). I would be surprised if Paterno would not have been able to throw his weight around and make a dent. But maybe we are being too hard on him? After all, it wasn’t like it was a life or death situation, right?

          • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa

            “not a life or death situation”?? Child molestation doesn’t bring about a certain kind of death in a child? oh Lord, help me bite my tongue.

          • FourInchHeels

            I think she was being sarcastic.

          • Jenn

            Yeah, I’m really hoping that last bit was sarcastic. If not, excuse me?!?

      • HippieGramma

        In the grand jury report, didn’t Paterno say McQueary never did specifically say what was going on?  That’s been one of the things that makes me hesitate in a rush to judgment of Paterno (and wondering why more isn’t said about McQueary’s failures in this situation).

        • HippieGramma

          BTW, I don’t follow college athletics, and was unaware of who Paterno was until the scandal broke loose.  And I completely supported his firing.

          • Holly

            Right, I know….but can you imagine having someone give you “vague” information that a grown up (with power and authority) was doing something harmful to a child (who is disadvantaged, underprivileged, etc.) and NOT asking…”WHAT?  What happened?  Tell me more!” 

            I can’t imagine that.  I’d want to know, and I’d be down in someone’s face finding out what happened to the child. I’d want to know if it had happened to more children.

            Hmmmm….maybe you’ve had to be a victim to feel this way.  Personally, I have this burning protectionism in my heart and being which can not be ignored – everything else be hanged. 

          • HippieGramma

            Sadly, I have been, and I’m usually with you on the hanging (maybe literally hanging the jerks)… still with Paterno I hesitate.

            I think it’s because he reminds me of my dad.  Paterno was 80-something when he died, which means he was 70-something when this stuff happened, and still working more than full time in charge of a football program.  Was he mentally, cognitively capable of that?  Was he really doing all the day-to-day stuff?

            My guess is no.  My theory is his legacy at the time brought recruits and students and paying spectators and endowments to the school, and they were going to keep him in the head spot until the day he died or longer, if they could have.

            So it’s possible, in my mind, that the situation confused the hell out of him, and others stepped in to “take care of it.”  And then he put it out of his mind, or it left his mind.

            If that’s true, then maybe there could be a lesson learned; colleges need to rethink their priorities.  Programs need to make sure their leaders know what the hell they are doing and can do the job. Maybe future horrendous situations like this could be avoided, and we could actually protect some victims.

            But again, I have no evidence on this, and don’t follow it, and for all I know he was scoring circles around 20 year olds on cognitive tests the day he died.  These are all my emotions talking here. 

        • HippieGramma

          BTW, I don’t follow college athletics, and was unaware of who Paterno was until the scandal broke loose.  And I completely supported his firing.

      • MissT

        I understand what you are saying Rachel. But I don’t think Paterno had the authority to NOT allow Sandusky to use the colleges facilities. I am positive he removed himself for having relations with Sandusky… would seem obvious as of course most would distance themself. Again, all speculation as we do not know these fine details. right!?!

  • http://twitter.com/runfreetrl Trish

    If you know of evil being perpetrated on children around you, let this be the day you scream “enough” and stop it! Speak up… (Prov 31:8).  this is what Wes Stafford from Compassion tweeted, right after the news broke about Penn State.  I can think of no better response. 

  • http://www.sarahovertherainbow.com/ Sarah

    AMEN! (yes, I’m shouting)

  • LizzyZ

    What was that Jesus said about harming children and a millstone around their neck? You mean there wasn’t a caveat for sports-winning legacies? Disgusting.
    True, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and we have nothing to boast about since grace is free, not of works, but what about justice? God cares about justice. That is why he says that those who harm children would have such consequences they would rather they had been killed by drowning. THAT should tell you something about God sees child molesters and those who protect them.

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah {ShoutLaughLove}

    what happened at penn state was awful. unspeakable horrible.  joepa should have acted to protect children and not power. that is indisputable.  we should remember, and we should be angry at injustice, abuse, and abuse of power.

    but that is not the sum of his legacy. his impact went well beyond football, and he and his wife were widely admired and beloved.  painting him as a hero isn’t fair to all the children he failed to protect, but neither is it fair to paint him as a monster.  he was a man who should have done more–but that failure to act does not undo every generosity or service.  that legacy is still very real to many.

    (the relevant article was crap. i couldn’t even bring myself to read the world one.  their partisan moralizing generally makes my blood boil.)

    • Holly

      I think it DOES undo his legacy. 

  • JanT

    Well said — excellent.  At least someone in the Christian community (you) “gets it.”  Amen sister.

  • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com/ Somaticstrength

    As a survivor of sexual abuse and someone who was in a conservative Christian family, this stuff leaves me so angry.

    Do I get “grace” too? Because I’ve had “you really need to forgive or your no better than the people who hurt you” shoved down my throat more times than I can count.

    I just had a commenter on my blog tell me that I was wrong for “misleading” people about Christianity because I dared to write about how it harmed me.

    As a survivor, let me just say that Christian culture and media and everything has been really fucking good when it comes to giving grace to rapists and child molesters. Not to the victims, of course, those people need to heal and move on in the “right” way and forgive and pretend like they don’t live everyday dealing with the effects of it because how dare we make others feel uncomfortable by our pain.

    For once, I would like this to be a black and white issue. Why is this the one thing that always must be considered gray areas and somehow moral absolutes lose their footing. Christian culture condemns homosexuality, something that involves two CONSENTING adults to be a bigger black and white issue for them than child sexual abuse and rape. Bring in a rapist or an enabler and all of a sudden it’s “we’re all sinners too” and “oh, let’s not forget grace and forgiveness and people can change!” For once I would like the biggest reaction from Christians to be actual, productive, anger. Anger and hurt and sorrow and rage that no matter how great, will never match what I feel in reaction to what was done to me.

    Of all groups, I would expect that Christians, will all their claims of standing with the oppressed and hurt and suffering, would choose this to be the one issue where they don’t decide to distance themselves from the actual suffering taking place.

    Also, I find this article hilarious from the perspective of “how should a Christian respond?” Newsflash: your emotions on this issue really doesn’t matter. That you feel “conflicted” and are a step removed so you can look at it from some less emotional place is a luxury that victims don’t have. And I hope to the god I don’t believe in anymore that you never go through something as horrendous as this because I doubt you would want people debating THEIR emotional response over what happened to you. “Hmmm. Someone’s torturing you right now? Let me see. How do I feel about this? How should I respond? What should I legally do because as long as I meet those obligations, I’m good? I may be debating this while you’re suffering, but I’m a good person too. C’mon, stop screaming, I can’t think.” I hope that you have people in your life that step away from this crass and heartless Christianity and actually care about you. Because I didn’t have that. And I meet too few Christians who do.

    And this response is long and just a general rant directed at no one in particular and everyone all at the same time because sometimes I get so tired. And I have insomnia and will probably have nightmares, yet again, because nightmares are a thing a lot of us PTSD-ridden survivors have, while everyone debates how they feel about abuse-enablers. And survivors have to deal with our abuse, and all after effects of it, and then every last little piece of bullshit that the rest of society wants to throw our way. Like getting stabbed multiple times over the course of time, having to deal with infections and pain and reopened wounds, and then having everyone be like, “yeah, but this is just a LITTLE nail. Let me poke you.”

    I hope abuse-enablers, and abuser and abuse-enabler *apologizers* wake up one day with the screams of every last survivor in their head constantly, day by day, minute by minute, incessant screams. I hope you can’t sleep from the guilt. I hope it eats at you, and tears you down and makes you feel exhausted. I hope it gives you nightmares and makes you sometimes wants to bash your head in a wall or fling yourself in front of a car because there’s no way out of your head. I hope you get flashes in your mind of everything that has ever happened to us survivors and you can’t turn it off, ever, no matter how hard you try. And then maybe, just maybe, you’ll be experiencing a small little piece of what we deal with. And maybe the selfishness of it finally happening to you will finally make you get why you should be so angry at abusers and enablers.

    • Kathy K.

      I’m so sorry for what you have been through. 

    • gooddaysunshine

      I am so sorry.  I hear exactly what you’re saying and I am so sorry.  I felt the same way about things when I was a christian.  My father died when I was young and all I got was scripture quoting and “God has his reasons”  which I think we all know is crap.  No one let me cry.  No one let me FEEL it because if you weren’t rejoicing in the lords plan then gosh you just weren’t  a good enough christian.  I suffered for a decade before getting therapy.  What I see in your story I can relate to in mine.  Why is suffering, pain, anger, depression so hard for the christian community to embrace? When I finally left church for good, I found this whole undiscovered side of myself that was so beautiful! I LET myself FEEL!!! I wallowed in it if I needed to! I was able to be angry! What a glorious thing! FEELINGS! I almost feel like christians enable this idea of squelching the human spirit without even knowing it.   Too much pacification is going on.  Why cant we HATE this guy Paterno? I mean, whats so complex about what went on here?! Anyway. I’m ranting now but I wanted to tell you specifically, I identified with your emotions and I thank you for sharing so much!

  • Peony Moss

    Why is so hard to understand that forgiving someone isn’t the same thing as pretending that the sin never happened?  or that judging the state of someone’s soul isn’t the same thing as judging their actions, and the effects of those actions?

    And how in the world can a “football legacy” possibly outshine the legacy of the evil committed against the victims? 

    Even in this world there are a few people out there whose world doesn’t revolve around college football.  Some of them are even sports fans.  In the greater scheme of things, JoePa’s work wasn’t all that important.   In sixty years, who’s going to remember him beyond hard-core fans?

    But in sixty years, the victims may still be suffering from the evil done to them.  The effects of that evil may still be rippling out, affecting their relationships.  And who knows what harm has been done to their eternal souls?

  • Peony Moss

    Why is so hard to understand that forgiving someone isn’t the same thing as pretending that the sin never happened?  or that judging the state of someone’s soul isn’t the same thing as judging their actions, and the effects of those actions?

    And how in the world can a “football legacy” possibly outshine the legacy of the evil committed against the victims? 

    Even in this world there are a few people out there whose world doesn’t revolve around college football.  Some of them are even sports fans.  In the greater scheme of things, JoePa’s work wasn’t all that important.   In sixty years, who’s going to remember him beyond hard-core fans?

    But in sixty years, the victims may still be suffering from the evil done to them.  The effects of that evil may still be rippling out, affecting their relationships.  And who knows what harm has been done to their eternal souls?

    • Holly

      Seriously.  YES.  So well said, Peony Moss.

  • Rachel

    One last thought. I wonder if those same people will be so conflicted in their response when the damage from the abuse these children suffered manifests itself in their adult life in the form of self abuse, drug abuse or becoming a child molesters themselves. 

    *NOTE: I did not say that all victims of child abuse become addicts, self abuser or child molesters, just that a higher percentage of people who do end up in those categories are victims of childhood abuse. 

  • theresaEH

    If this man had been a catholic priest………….guilty or not I am sure we all know what would have been said in the media eh!

  • http://thecannyfamily.blogspot.com/ Autumn

    thank you for writing this. i’m just so confused why others are not.

  • Stephanie

    Rescue those being led away to death;
       hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
    12 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
       does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
    Does not he who guards your life know it?
       Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

    • Stephanie

       Sorry forgot to reference Proverbs 24:11-12

  • Maggie

    Thank you.  I am so tired of the christian community using “grace” and “forgiveness” as an excuse for inaction. 

  • Anonymous

    My problem with this situation is not that people take Paterno to task for failing to do his duty to the children. My problem is that society has chosen to say that he is intrinsically evil, completely disregarding so many good things he did. And I’m not talking about winning records, I’m talking about funding a library, keeping a sports program clean (I mean, that is NOT something to thumb our nose at, let’s be honest; it’s a big deal). I am troubled when any individual suddenly becomes Monster, Wholly Evil Without Redeeming Qualities Or Potential For Redemption when he or she makes a mistake. And as some of the below commenters have made clear, there’s certainly gray in this situation that our sound-byte understanding of things doesn’t allow for. I’m not trying to say he’s without fault, just that we should be measured in our judgment. That’s all.

    • Holly

      It’s not that he’s wholly evil – it’s about “what is his legacy?”

      And you know what bothers me about comment like this one?  So focused on the protection of one guy – who had power and authority for much of his life (even if he mostly used it for good….) but there’s not one word nor one bit of compassion for the kids who suffered.  That’s skewed.

      • Anonymous

        I’ve stayed out of these discussions until now because of exactly that reaction–because I get it. I do. I’m focusing on “defense,” if you want to call it that, of one man because so many are so focused on utterly destroying one man. I’m just saying that it’s wrong for us to act as if this one issue is all that matters about Joe Paterno. Every person in this entire world, you , me, everyone, has made mistakes, and many of them have led to people being hurt. God doesn’t feel the pain of the people you and I have hurt any less than He feels the pain of the children victimized at Penn State. It’s fine to hold Paterno accountable–just don’t tar his entire life with this one brush, that’s all I’m saying. He’s done good things too.

        • Holly

          Sorry Kathleen – I’ve not ever participated in a conversation about Joe Paterno either.

          But to equate mistakes, or me hurting someone to the lifelong pain of a child being raped or molested by a guy who has power over him – or even to the person who allowed the cover up?  Sorry.  I don’t accept that.  My hurting someone because I failed to say hello is not the same thing.  (I don’t buy that all sins are equal, either.)  An abused child is changed, scarred, forever. 

          Building a library does not compare to that.

          I have nothing against you personally, nothing at all.  I simply fail to understand this line of thinking.

  • Bpbasilphx

    The late Joe Paterno seems to be in EXACTLY the same place that some Roman Catholic bishops were 30-50 years ago when they received reports of pedophilic priests: trying to do the best to preserve the reputations of ALL involved, including the victims, but handling things badly.

  • Bpbasilphx

    The late Joe Paterno seems to be in EXACTLY the same place that some Roman Catholic bishops were 30-50 years ago when they received reports of pedophilic priests: trying to do the best to preserve the reputations of ALL involved, including the victims, but handling things badly.

  • gooddaysunshine

      I can’t believe people are making excuses for this pathetic human being.  Its FOOTBALL, lets be clear here.  Foot.  Ball.  FOOTBALL.  So these kids get damaged for life but that adds up to nothing because of FOOTBALL!?  The way I see it, when famous sports guys are running a kiddie porn dungeon in a locker room, I think that trumps any and all achievements  Joe Paterno made.

  • gooddaysunshine

      I can’t believe people are making excuses for this pathetic human being.  Its FOOTBALL, lets be clear here.  Foot.  Ball.  FOOTBALL.  So these kids get damaged for life but that adds up to nothing because of FOOTBALL!?  The way I see it, when famous sports guys are running a kiddie porn dungeon in a locker room, I think that trumps any and all achievements  Joe Paterno made.

  • Anonymous

    I saw this link someone in the webosphere and decided to take a few moments to read this. I read your bio, too. Here are my thoughts on your post

    First, WHAT Christians think this way? Maybe some loud and vocal ones but I, for one, have not encountered this type of thinking where I live. Yes Joe Paterno did great things for Penn State for his job but as a person … to be able to cover up and not further investigate this … yes, it does hint at a heart problem.

    Your bio – It was sad to read that you had a horrible experience as a child but I would also urge you to be slow to project your bad experience toward all Bible-based Christianity. My husband, too, grew up in a fundamentalist environment and has many bad memories that have left a bitter taste in his mouth … BUT He still attends a church, he is involved in ministry and he is still 100% passionate about the Bible and God … BUT not in the context of the  fundamentalist church. He doesn’t go around projecting his bad experience on his present life (or the live of others). He knows there were errors in those who had authority over him as a child but he has been able to let that go and move on without thinking all Bible-believing Christians think and act the way the ones did when we was young.

    You can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    • Anonymous

      April: I’m happy for you that your husband has experienced a far better recovery than I have and isn’t projecting his bad experience on anyone like I am. And thank you for reminding me not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I’ve never heard that one before.

      • Pamela

        You replied to her FAR more kindly than I would have, E/E.  You must be further along in your recovery than I am.

      • Pamela

        You replied to her FAR more kindly than I would have, E/E.  You must be further along in your recovery than I am.

    • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa

      ya because going to church, dotting all their i’s and crossing all their t’s is what makes a person a better Christian than the rest of us.  Sweetie, do you even understand what ‘projecting’ really is?

      • AprilEmery

        I was not say or implying that Sisterlisa. And by projecting I was referring to taking bad experiences with the Church and assuming every single person within it is the same. I am speaking in regards to abuse etc, but in regards to bad experiences with church bodies.

        • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa


          I was referring to taking bad experiences with the Church and assuming every single person within it is the same.” I have read EE’s blog for over a year and have never seen her do such a thing. Perhaps you may want to read her new post “What NOT to say to a person struggling with their faith”

  • Shelly

    Did you read the entire article? Because Piper doesn’t get to his thesis until the end. The article was not about his conflicted emotions about Joe Paterno–Piper admitted that what Paterno may have covered up was heinous. His thesis, if you read all the way to the end, was this: “Is the justice of God good enough? Does it satisfy the cries for justice and punishment by so many? Indeed it must, and if it does not then it is not justice that is sought but vengeance.”

    What I am reading here is vengance, plain and simple. Whether or not you (and your commenters) are justified in feeling this way is no different than whether or not Paterno was justified in his actions. We are ALL sinners, saved by grace alone. What Piper was trying to clarify was that it’s not up to us to prosecute Paterno in the court of public opinion or based upon our own experiences/baggage. God will be the judge of it all. ALL.

    Paterno paid for his crimes with his life. Leave him alone.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, I did read the entire article and am well aware of Piper’s thesis. I still disagree.

  • MissT

    I think this is a tough situation to judge. We are not privy to all the facts despite all the media frenzy. Joe is a legend and as Piper said, he earned that respect. I can’t imagine any human being hiding something after so many alleged acts against children. But, I do think that he suffered through speculation and indeed he has dealt with and is dealing with God. Piper said that he does not know Paterno’s relationship with God when it has been expressed often that Paterno was raised and was a practicing Catholic up until his death. I am one to let God be the judge and I may express my concerns about the alleged acts and alleged cover ups… but I was part of the situation and cannot clearly justify such a negative response. I do pray that if the acts did occur, that those children (now adults) have counseling and that ANY and EVERY adult privy to Sandusky’s acts learn from their concealment, if indeed that was what occurred.
    On another note, I don’t believe that Piper’s article was bad at all. In fact, he was the least biased (especially from a Christian standpoint.) The only thing that stood out to me was the way he pointed out “but failed to protect the ‘least of these’”. For some reason it bothers me that he put LEAST OF THESE in quotes. I had to reread that a few times to see his intent. But, this is the least of the issues.
    I pray that all individuals really stop before they judge and pray with an open heart that they bring light to harm, remove harm and let God and the legal system pass the judgment necessary to reprimand the wrong.
    We must be aware that Paterno did not commit the acts. Some people’s words prosecute him as severely as they do Sandusky. As a parent, I understand that we want our children protected in every way possible and that any person of authority should do the same. I get that. But, I refer back to my first statement, we are not privy to ALL THE FACTS, in fact, we cannot be confident that the information available is complete or factual.
    Let God be the judge and you pray!

  • http://thehomespunlife.com Sisterlisa

    We are not able to extend the exact same kind of grace that only Jesus can. We just do the best we can. We also won’t be able to bring the same kind of justice that God can…our courts can only do the best they can. Everyone gets chances to make restitution…if they are willing to. I am upset about the whole ordeal as well. It’s very discouraging to see mainstream Christian organizations be so lax about the safety of children. The church I used to attend allowed registered offenders to ride the same bus as the children. Mind boggling. If people like this want to be refined into respectable people, they need to avoid the appearance of evil..and an offender of children being near children is an appearance of evil for them. Just like how we wouldn’t employ a known thief to be a bank teller. They lose the trust of their community in those areas. And rightly so! Anyway… I’ll honestly say that since Joe’s death I think more about his wife than him or his fans. I can’t imagine walking in her shoes. I wish I could give her a long hug and help her get beyond all of this. Now, in Joe’s death, she has become a victim as well. :(

  • Holly

    Wow.  Yes.

    Honestly, I think these guys are still wearing their rosy colored glasses – they can’t stand the thought that one of their heroes was culpable.  Stars in the eyes….just can’t see straight, want to explain it away.

    And you’re right.  It’s exactly this kind of thinking that let the tragedy go on for so long….

    Bravo, yet again, my fearless friend.

  • Anonymous

    I think this rush to a conclusion shows a lot about our societal need to categorize things that are too complicated to categorize. 

    The older I get, I realize that most things and people are not all-good or all-bad…as if parsing will reveal something that will determine the goodness or badness of this recently deceased fellow. He was likely a mixed bag like all the rest of us. 

    As a person who cares nothing of sports or the legacies that they create, I am puzzled by it all. His life no more demands some final assessment than anyone else’s. 

    I liked the linked article that said that people in Mr P’s spot were generally lost, befuddled yet willing to do the right thing once they figured out what it was. I think he did the best he could with what he had. I hold the Administrators who covered up the report as more culpable..they were savvy and knowingly allowed evil to prevail.