Shameful Confessions & Paula Deen

Last Supper in ButterThere are things I’ve done in the past which are now excruciating to admit:

  • Went out in public wearing matching red, white, and blue Mother-Daughter outfits with TBC.
  • Dated and almost married an abusive man
  • Missed a wedding I was supposed to officiate leaving the bride and groom without benefit of clergy standing under a festive tent.

Oh, and there are other, much worse things that I’m too mortified to share one-on-one, much less for people  to read about here.  And I don’t even have a Smithfield Ham contract to lose.

God bless Paula Deen. Diabetic, southern, butter-loving Paula Deen.  She has a brother named Bubba.  Of course she does.

Paula Deen has said things she regrets regarding race and culture. Actually all of us have.  We just haven’t been subpoenaed to talk about it.

An African American friend of mine confessed the other day that she grew up referring to “Jew Town” as a section of Chicago where the merchants would cheat you.  She said that she didn’t even realize it was offensive until she was about 20 years old.  Someone had to explain it to her.  I’ve said things just this ignorant, and worse.

Paula Deen has more than enough money to survive without the TV show and the ham contract, but how can she redeem herself?  How can any of us redeem ourselves when we’ve said and done things that are grievous to other people?

Starter suggestions:

  • Read Bruce Reyes-Chow’s new book.  Then talk about it.
  • Participate in social groups, discussion groups, and worship gatherings with people who are not like us racially, culturally, ethnically, sexually, spiritually.  Do not go to pick fights or challenge people.  Make friends.  Listen.
  • Volunteer to serve people we don’t understand.  If we find homosexuality uncomfortable, make cookies for a homeless shelter for gay kids and listen to their stories.  If we feel resentful towards people who don’t speak our language, volunteer to help refugees coming into the country and help them figure out how to buy bus passes and register their kids for school.  If we complain about “lazy unemployed people” then volunteer at a job training center to teach interviewing skills or resume writing.

Paula Deen will be fine and yet I am ashamed alongside her.  Sometimes when we fall, there’s something we’re supposed to notice down there on the ground.

Image is The Last Supper sculpted in butter.

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4 responses to “Shameful Confessions & Paula Deen

  1. Thank you Jan; I like this post a whole lot for all the reasons you mention. Judgement really doesn’t get us very far along the way does it?

  2. Charlotte Lohrenz

    Jan, I find that what is distressing about Paula Deen is not so much that she said “those things” as that she seems to be justifying her language. You use the term “shameful”; shame is sometimes the right response. I want to believe that is one of the benefits of being Christian: we can admit that we have done wrong.
    I’ll stop there at the risk of being judgemental.
    Your cure of coming nearer to those who feel far away from is spot on!
    Thank you for writing.

    • Yes, the defensiveness/justification bugs me too. My hope is that one day she’ll wake up and realize how her words were not defensible. Also I love your email address. Will miss being with you next week.

  3. This is the best reflection on the Paula Deen kerfluffle I’ve come across yet. Constructive. Challenging. Thanks, Jan.

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