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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
           Monday, May 12 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterTo forgive or gloat

I would be remiss to leave the topic of the past two Jonals—gambling and the fall in reputation of William Bennett because of his being exposed last week as a high-stakes gambler—without first considering the outcome thus far. Many of the kind of liberals who are inclined to dislike Bennett in particular and anyone who proposes moral standards for society in general feel they're having a field day, by cutting their nemesis down to their size. And even some conservatives—most notably Michael Savage on "Savage Nation" on MSNBC over the weekend—are all too happy to call him a hypocrit and hope his days as a moral compus for the Republican Party and the broader conservative movement are over.

Though I've already elaborated my personal antipathy to gambling in the two previous entries, I am inclined to give far more credence to both Bennett's original "defense," and his subsequent "repentance" and his pledge to stay away from gambling henceforth. In the first place, he maintained that he never "bet the milk money," didn't have an addiction to gambling that was endangering his family's wealth, and that he didn't lose all that much more than he won over the past 10 years. In the second place, he said he didn't want to be a bad example to anyone in this regard and therefore he was publicly pledging to leave gambling behind.

Nothing would be more unChristian than to call someone to repent and, once the confession and promise to change was obtained, to refuse to accept the sinner's bonafides. To their credit, Christian activists Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship and James Dobson of Focus on the Family, longtime cobelligerents with Bennett in the call to restore virtue in personal and public morality, quickly expressed gratitude for the supposedly discredited leading Catholic spokesman for their cause and implied they're willing to go on from there, forgiving any damage to their cause that may have been rendered by Bennett's behavior. I agree with their attitude and the reasons for it. Anyone who's been to a Catholic church festival, as most Blacklick Valleyans have, knows the Catholic attitude about gambling is far from that of the Protestant evanglicalism represented by Colson, Dobson and, as cited as the source of my anti-gambling attitudes, my mother. Bennett himself claimed church influence in his decision to gamble years earlier.

What I find ironic and equally hypocritical to what they consider Bennett to be, is anyone who has ever bought a lottery ticket or played a game of chance at a carnival, or pulled the handle of a "one-armed bandit"—no such person is qualitatively more sinless than their adversary Bennett. If they made a mistake or did it in a moment of weakness, so did he. Did they repent after doing it, did not he also? It's like the old cocktail party joke in which the old man asks the young ingenue if she'd sleep with him for a million dollars. When she says she would consider it, he returns, "how about $100?" And when she retorts haughtily, "what do you take for?" his reply is, "we've already established what you are, now we're just haggling over price." Quantitative versus qualitative "moral" distinction.

No one gets out of life alive. No one's without sin. No one can do better than he resolves to do from this time forward. Christianity 101—evangelical Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

 From the mouths of kids

My son Zachary, 4, came screaming out of the bathroom to tell me he'd dropped his toothbrush in the toilet. So I fished it out and threw it in the garbage. Zachary stood there thinking for a moment, then ran to my bathroom and came out with my toothbrush. He held it up and said with a charming little smile, "We better throw this one out too then, 'cause it fell in the toilet a few days ago."

— Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for today

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

— Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

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