A Magnitude of Horror, Inhumanly High

A Magnitude of Horror, Inhumanly High February 9, 2012

One of our human failings is that there are plenty of things we can know intellectually without feeling them viscerally.

You can go to a dozen funerals, and not be very deeply touched by it all, until someone you really love dies. You can read or hear about the Holocaust in high school history class, and even see pictures of death camp inmates, and not really have any least idea about what the whole thing means until you walk through the Holocaust Museum, holding the card of a little kid who was sucked into the horrible maw of it, touring through the nightmare exhibits and waiting to see whether YOUR child lived or died.

You have to be touched in your own deep places before things hit home to you.

I’m trying to picture how to illustrate one of those things, to properly describe something I feel after reading a certain news report. It’s a feeling of disgust, but disgust on steroids, so that it amps up into horror.

Okay, how about this:

Imagine a Better Homes & Gardens layout, a double page spread of a palatial living room with white shag carpet, white drapes, white walls and ceiling, comfy cloud-white angora sofas and chairs. On the white lacquer-finish coffee table centerpiece of the room is a small but pricey collection of exquisite blown glass pieces.

With me so far?

A short distance away, in two spotless bays of a 3-car garage, are a restored 1960 candy-apple red Corvette Convertible, right next to a fully-restored auto-show-quality 1964 Ford Mustang pony car in metal-flake sky blue.

Nearby is the restorer’s workbench with all his tools, including a ball-peen hammer used to pound out dents early in the restoration process.

Now for the kicker:

This is YOUR home. All that stuff is yours. To say that you and your wife (or you and your husband) take pride in it would be woefully inadequate.

One more thing: You’ve just rolled up in the driveway after a long weekend away, and have discovered the beat-up van of your heavy-drinking brother, Dusty. A coal-miner tossed out by his second wife, he’s come for a visit, bringing along his mischievous 4-year-old, Dusty Too (who loves hammers, and banging on pots with them), and his big slobbery non-house-trained St. Bernard, Digger. Dusty took the time, during that long weekend, to change the oil in his Ford Econoline beater. Considering that it rained all weekend, he did the work in your garage, napping and watching TV afterward in your living room, while Dusty Too let Digger in and out from your newly-sodded back yard.

Imagine the worst possible scene as you come home. Start with the garage door rolling up to reveal your bright-eyed, leaky-diapered nephew standing with the ball-peen hammer in hand and an enormous grin on his face.






Yeah, it all sounds funny, reading about it, but you can probably still pick up on some of what you’d feel if it really happened to you.

That thing you’re feeling is something like what I’m getting when I read this (and in both our cases, what we feel is a pale shadow of what should be felt):

Cardinal Edward Egan Just Withdrew His Apology For The Catholic Sex-Abuse Scandal

A decade after that letter, the former archbishop of New York, and former bishop of Bridgeport, now describes the handling of the priest-abuse crisis under his watch as “incredibly good.” He said of the letter, “I never should have said that,” and added, “I don’t think we did anything wrong.”

“I never had one of these sex abuse cases.” he said, before adding pompously, “If you have another bishop in the United States who has the record I have, I’d be happy to know who he is.”

This line just fucking awes me:

He also claimed that the Church had no obligation to report abuse to the civil authorities.

I’m picturing a man so successfully untouched by any real human feeling that he can no longer understand or relate to other human beings at all. Someone who does not even know INTELLECTUALLY that any wrong was done to those hundreds or thousands of kids, or that the Church had any responsibility to them.

In short, a monster.


"Best to you, Mr. Fox, and for your efforts."

Goodbye Patheos—Hank Fox Bows Out
"All the best, Hank! Your thoughts and words have always given me something to ponder."

Goodbye Patheos—Hank Fox Bows Out

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