alcoholism

Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_category in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3754

Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_tag in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3755

Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_comment in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3756

Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_author in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3757
class="post clearfix cat-628 cat-46 cat-11 cat-1 post-2408 type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-alcoholism category-clericalism category-architecture category-uncategorized tag-bishop-heather-cook tag-bishop-sutton has-post-title has-post-date has-post-category has-post-tag has-post-comment has-post-author">

It’s All About ME

 

Sutton

¡Pobre de mi!

Clerical narcissism is the bane of many, perhaps all churches. It was a major factor in the sexal abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, and Episcopalians are not immune. He Baltimore Brew reports:

With Bishop Heather Cook in a Baltimore jail cell on charges of manslaughter, drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident, the man who presided during her hiring says he didn’t realize how burdened he was by the incident until “a bishop colleague” spoke with him.

Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton – Cook’s Episcopal Diocese of Maryland boss, who has acknowledged diocesan officials knew about Cook’s 2010 drunk driving and drug arrest but did not disclose it to the people who elected her – recounted the colleague’s words of solace in a “pastoral letter” published today.

“Eugene, I am the child of an alcoholic and I’ve spent many years dealing with that and coming to understand the hold that alcohol has on someone who is addicted to it,” the colleague said, according to Sutton’s account.

“I want to tell you that the Diocese of Maryland is not responsible for the terrible accident that killed that bicyclist,” the colleague said, according to Sutton’s letter. “You are not responsible for that; Heather Cook is. It’s not your fault.”

Sutton goes on to say the colleague’s words prompted him to “burst into tears.”

“I hadn’t realized how much I had internalized the weight of responsibility for the tragedy, the sense of shame, and the desperate need to make it all better,” Sutton wrote in a letter posted on his Facebook page as well as on the website of Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

But the areas where Sutton addresses his personal feelings of culpability – and seemingly absolves himself – are also striking.

“I hadn’t realized how much I had internalized the weight of responsibility for the tragedy, the sense of shame, and the desperate need to make it all better,” he writes.

“Later, praying before the Icon of Christ the Pantocrater, I gazed into those piercing eyes of our Lord, asking: What is Christ wanting to say to me? And what did I want to say to him?”

“After what seemed like an eternity, I was finally able to gaze into his eyes and say: ‘Lord, it’s not your fault,’” he recounts.

Well, no, the death of Tony Palermo is not God’s fault, although the question of theodicy is the most difficult matter in Christianity, as Pope Benedict admitted once in an interview.

ButSutton is quick to absolve himself and the diocese of any responsibility.

Commentators on Baltimore Brew site were spot on:

The Diocese knew of Cook’s alcohol, and drug, abuse. Yet the church saw her fit to be placed in a position of power. They promoted her (but did not disclose it to the people who elected her) to the second highest position in the church in Maryland. They did this even with her recent horrible choices. In the world of us alcoholics, four years is very recent. The church chose to say marijuana and a .27 BAC wasn’t a huge deal. They chose to say being so drunk that you’re driving with a shredded tired and covered in your own vomit isn’t a big deal. They chose to call this a lapse in judgment. They saw no problems with her as being a leader of Christians. Was she the best choice the Episcopal Church could come up with. How did she make it to the final four? Was the church trying to fill a spot with a politically correct choice? And now, finally, they are going to review that process that allowed her to keep her background private. During the election process she was encouraged to self disclose but chose not to.

Another is more direct but also spot on:

The Bishop’s Super-sized crosier says it all. Bigger than the Pope’s staff!

No wonder with this culture of the High and Mighty, Bishop Cook lost her basic Christian values and compassion, as well as what is right and wrong!

This cult mentality of supreme power and elitism has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus.

Exodus 32.4 all over again with the Pagan imagery going to their heads and good judgment going out the golden temple door.

No wonder the High Priestess has a skewed vision of right and wrong.

And another give the bishop some good advice:

Mr. Sutton, there is a reason why you have “internalized the weight of responsibility for the tragedy, the sense of shame, and the desperate need to make it all better”. You are not responsible for this murder, but your actions in hiding and ignoring Cook’s problems did play a part in causing it. What you are feeling is called a conscience. What you do about it will show who you are as a man. Hiding behind god and your position is not the answer.

I do not know Sutton’s involvement in the appointment of Cook, but many people were complicit and were enablers. Also, I doubt that the day of the accident was the first day since 2010 that Cook was blind drunk. Had no one in the diocese noticed her drinking problem? The precise legal liability of the diocese will probably be tested in court, but their moral responsibility in choosing an irresponsible alcoholic for a position of church leadership, an action which gave her the sense of invulnerability from consequences of her actions, is clear.

 

Leave a Comment
Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_category in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3754

Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_tag in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3755

Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_comment in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3756

Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_author in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3757
class="post clearfix cat-628 cat-46 cat-11 post-2363 type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-alcoholism category-clericalism category-architecture has-post-title has-post-date has-post-category has-post-tag has-post-comment has-post-author">

The Goose is Cooked

Bishop Cook was driving with a 2.2 alcohol level, almost triple the Maryland limit of .8.

She weighs 250 lbs.

To get to that level she would have had to have 13 drinks in the hour before she was tested (and she wasn’t tested immediately after the accident).

If she started drinking at 9AM, she would have had to have 16 drinks to have that level in her blood.

She swerved into the bike lane and hit Palermo, who went through her windshield.

She went home and returned to the scene of the accident only after diocesan officials told her she had to.

She is charged with four felonies, including vehicular manslaughter.

Her bail was set $2.5 million bail.

She has asked to have home detention or to enter Father Martin Ashley’s, a substance abuse treatment center. She had checked into it after she was identified as the driver in the accident.

The judge has refused to reduce her bail to the $500,000 she requested, and said she is a flight risk.

“To me she represents a grave danger to the community,” said Judge Nicole Pastore Klein at a bailing hearing at the John R. Hargrove Sr. District Court Building on Patapsco Avenue.

“I cannot trust her judgement. . . She showed a reckless and careless indifference to life.”

The facts of the case are not in doubt.

What can her attorney say? What possible defense could he mount? She faces 20+ years in jail.

She will also be the target of a wrongful death lawsuit by Palermo’s widow.

The Episcopal diocese is nervous. Was she on diocesan business at the time of the accident?

Whatever the legal liability of the Episcopal diocese, its moral liability is clear.

The committee that approved Cook’s nomination for bishop knew about her DUI. They neglected to inform the voting delegates about this little incident.

If Cook had been publicly humiliated by having her disgusting DUI (covered by vomit, too drunk to stand up) made public to the diocese, she would not have (I hope) been elected a bishop. That might have brought her up short and motivated her to get sober.

But as it was, she thought her enablers in the diocese would always protect her.

Is the diocese going to post her bond and pay for her attorney? They are still paying her salary and benefits.

Despite having a more democratic polity and married clergy, the Episcopal church is as riddled with clericalism as the Catholic Church.

PS There was one fact that was in Cook’s original bio that was omitted on the diocesan web site; her “life partner” Mark. I guess men and women can’t get married in Maryland.

Leave a Comment
Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_category in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3754

Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_tag in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3755

Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_comment in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3756

Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_author in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3757
class="post clearfix cat-628 cat-46 cat-11 post-670 type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-alcoholism category-clericalism category-architecture tag-bishop-heather-cook tag-episcopal-church tag-tony-palermo has-post-title has-post-date has-post-category has-post-tag has-post-comment has-post-author">

The Bishop and the Bicyclist

Bishop Heather Cook of Baltimore killed a bicyclist last week.

She apparently left her apartment at the end of Roland Avenue in Baltimore. She drove south down a section of Roland Ave which is 6 lanes, untrafficked, with clearly marked bike lanes and smooth pavement.

There she encountered Tony Palermo and ran into him. He was an expert bicyclist, and worked in the bicycle section at REI. My son frequently saw him bicycling. There were other bicyclists around.

She continued on Roland Avenue and turned around. The bicyclists saw her car and realized it must have been the one involved in the accident. A bicyclist pursued her to get her license number. She drove into her gated community but the guard kept the bicyclist out.

45 minutes after the accident (according to eyewitnesses) she returned to the scene of the accident. An official from the Episcopal diocese was on hand.

Cook had had a previous encounter with the police:

Court records show that a sheriff’s deputy stopped Cook on Sept. 10, 2010, in Caroline County on the Eastern Shore. The officer wrote in a report that Cook was driving on the shoulder at 29 mph in a 50 mph-zone with a shredded front tire. The deputy noted that a strong alcohol odor emanated from the vehicle and that Cook had vomit down the front of her shirt.

The officer wrote that Cook was so intoxicated that she couldn’t finish a field sobriety test because she might fall and hurt herself.

According to the report, Cook registered .27 percent blood alcohol content. The legal limit in Maryland is .08 percent.

The officer found two small bags of marijuana in the vehicle, along with paraphernalia, and a bottle of wine and a bottle of liquor.

Cook pleaded guilty to drunken driving, and the prosecution of marijuana possession charges was dropped. A judge sentenced her to a fine and probation before judgment on the DUI charge, meaning her record could be cleared if she stayed out of trouble.

She was then made a bishop in 2012.  Her father had been rector of Old St Paul’s, the society church in Baltimore. The committee that chose her was aware of the driving incident but did not share the information with others. Diocesan officials have defended their decision by claiming that the church is all about forgiveness.

Cook had given a sermon:

If we routinely drive 55 in a 30 mile-an-hour zone, we won’t be able to stop on a dime if driving conditions get dangerous or if an animal or, God forbid, a human being should step out in front of us. Things happen suddenly, and we’re either prepared in the moment or we’re not, and we face the consequences. We can’t go back. We can’t do it over.

“In real life, there are no instant replays. I think this is something of a hard message to give to you today. My perception is that we live in the midst of a culture that doesn’t like to hold us accountable for consequences, that somehow everybody gets a free pass all the time. Well, we do in terms of God’s love and forgiveness, but we don’t in many of the things that happen, and it’s up to us to be responsible.”

Emily Heath, a clergywoman who herself in recovery, observes of Cook:

her 2010 DUI charges were particularly disturbing. Many of us in recovery never drove drunk, but the facts of her prior case seem to indicate that substance abuse was indeed a problem. My hope is that when she was charged she saw the need to get sober. My other hope is that the Episcopal Church supported her in that endeavor.

But as far as her consecration as bishop, a very short period of time had elapsed between her DUI incident and her elevation. If she was sober, she was still in “early sobriety” and taking on a position like this, with higher stress and demands on time, would have likely been discouraged. And, if she relapsed, as now seems likely, it was on her to step back and say “I need to focus on getting healthy.” But Bishop Cook alone is not at fault. Church communities are often too quick to push those who have had major falls back into the spotlight. They are not doing the one who is recovering any favors by pushing a false rhetoric of “forgiveness” or “grace”. Sometimes grace means saying “you need to work on yourself for a while”.

With Bishop Cook too many questions are unanswered, and too little time had elapsed since her “rock bottom” of a few years ago. Something went wrong, and she found an even lower “rock bottom”, and this time a man is dead, not because she was in recovery but because of her own bad decisions. Add to that the fact that this was a hit and run, and Bishop Cook took no responsibility for her actions until she was chased down, and it is clear that her behavior is exactly the opposite of what we are taught in recovery, regardless of whether or not she was drinking when she hit Mr. Palermo.

Tony Palermo left a widow and two children, 4 and 6 years old. He is being buried this morning from Immaculate Conception Church in Towson.

No charges have been filed in the death of Tony Palermo.

Bicyclists held a memorial ride on Roland Avenue.

Bishop Cook has made no statements.

Leave a Comment
Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_category in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3754

Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_tag in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3755

Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_comment in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3756

Warning: Undefined property: Themify::$hide_meta_author in /home/leopod1/podles.org/dialogue/wp-content/themes/elemin/themify/themify-utils.php on line 3757
class="post clearfix cat-628 cat-44 cat-13 post-560 type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-alcoholism category-masculinity category-southwest tag-alcohol tag-indians tag-tony-hillerman has-post-title has-post-date has-post-category has-post-tag has-post-comment has-post-author">

The Curse of Drink

Tony Hillerman, as much as he admired the Navajos, did not idealize them, and described the blight of alcohol among the Diné, the people. In The Ghostway Jim Chee reflects on a drunken woman who was lying in the road and was run over, and on the others like her. “In the milder seasons, they drank themselves to death in front of trucks on U.S. 666 or Navajo Route 1. Now, with the icy wind beginning to blow, they would drink themselves to death in frozen ditches.”

In 1745-6, David Brainerd, a Presbyterian minister, worked as a missionary among the Indians in New Jersey near the New York border. He discovered they seemed “to abhor even the christian name.” Brainerd explained why:

This aversion to Christianity arises partly from a view of the “immorality and vicious behavior of many who are called Christians.” They [the Indians] observe  that horrid wickedness in nominal Christians, which the light of nature condemns in themselves: and not having distinguishing views of things, are ready to look on all the white people alike, and to condemn the alike, for the abominable practices of some. – Hence, when I have attempted to treat with them about Christianity, they have frequently objected the scandalous practices of Christians.  They have observed to me, that the white people lie, defraud, steal and drink worse than the Indians; that they have taught the Indians these things, especially the latter of them; who before the coming of the English, knew of no such thing as strong drink: that the English have, by these means, made the quarrel and kill one another; and, in a word,  brought them to the practice of all those vices that now prevail among them. So that they have now vastly more miserable, than they were before the coming of the white people into the country. – These, and such like objections, they frequently make against Christianity, which are not easily answered to their satisfaction; many of them being facts too notoriously true.

David Courtwright in his book Violent Land: Single Men and Social Disorder from the Frontier to the Inner City claims that the Indians learned how to react to alcohol by observing how white people reacted. Unfortunately Indians did not see mature Frenchmen or Italians savoring a glass of wine, but young, adventurous, testosterone-driven males getting drunk and shooting up the town.

Among all the accusations made against the Spanish in their entrada into New Mexico, I do not remember reading that they introduced the natives denizens to drunkenness. They had wine and brandy; was it too rare to trade to the Indians, or did the Spanish, even on the frontier, not abuse alcohol as much as the English did?

(There is some evidence that before the Spanish arrived the Pueblo Indians may have made a weak beer by fermenting corn, but nothing conclusive and no traces in oral history of alcohol abuse in pre-contact times).

Leave a Comment