We Are….?

Nov 11th 2011

We are… the call begins “…Penn State, the call resounds.  It’s all about identity and community.

I’ve lived in State College for almost 18 years.  In a few months, I will have lived in Happy Valley longer than I’ve lived in any other place. I never attended PSU, but I paid for a daughter to graduate from Penn State.  I travel a bit and whenever I tell people I’m from State College (by the way most people think of College Station, no one knows State College, but everyone knows Penn State) invariably I’m asked the question, “So are you a Penn State fan?”  My response, “You can’t live in State College for 18 years and not be a fan.”

But there’s a difference between being a fan and being family.

Last Tuesday as Calvary’s pastors gathered to talk about the junk, it was interesting how differently each of us was processing the events.  The Penn State grads in our midst had a deeper emotional response.  They were family, not just fans.  Identity and community.

I’ve been pondering this for the last few days, identity and community.  Fans are processing the events of the last few days differently than those who feel more like family.  That’s part of what those who live “out there” don’t understand.  If your last name is Penn State, you are angry that someone has sullied the family name…but you are also protective of the family.  You simply respond differently when it’s family.

Tim Henderson, a campus pastor at Penn State touched on this same issue — speaking to his Cru “family” —  when he compared the Grand Jury presentment on victims two and six.  According to the report a graduate assistant saw a ten year old boy (victim two) pressed against a shower wall being raped.  He then left and called his father.  The next day he met with his boss, who then called his boss, who some days later met again with the graduate assistant.  On the basis of that conversation Sandusky was told that he could no longer bring boys to the football facilities.

The conversation this week has focused on how much people knew; what they did with what they knew; and whether or not they did enough.  In some cases, the legal obligations were met; in some cases, perhaps not. But the most poignant statement thus far has come from Coach Paterno, “Looking back I wish that I would have done more.” 

On the other hand, the mother of victim six did far more than the legal obligations required.  When her son came home from a visit with Mr. Sandusky, mom noticed his wet hair.  That detail raised her concerns.  She questioned her son and found out that he and Mr. Sandusky had showered together. Immediately mom went into action.  She called the police.  She cooperated with the police to wiretap a conversation with Mr. Sandusky.  She confronted him in her home; grilled him about the event and rebuked him for his actions.

There is no question that she did everything she could.  It wasn’t an obligation. Why?  Because her son was family.  She loves her son.

The last few days I’ve wondered frequently, what would I have done if I were in the shoes of men like Coach Paterno, Mike McQueary, Tim Curley or Gary Schultz.  I would like to think I would have done what was right…but I can tell you this, if the child was my child I would have gone far beyond “what’s right.”

Two thoughts come to mind…

1) I’ve never really cared for the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  But it comes to mind here. What if we considered every child, a part of our family.

2) No family is perfect, but I want to find my identity and community from a family that cares for every kid, like it was my own kid.

It’s my prayer that Calvary will continue to become one of those families.