From the Psalter:
Those who act deceitfully shall not dwell in my house, and those who tell lies shall not continue in my sight.
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Psalm 101:7 (BCP Version) – May 15, 2013.)
There’s a homiletic maxim attributed to Karl Barth that clergy should preach with the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. These days, that sort of describes how I say the Daily Office. I use my laptop computer (I’m still not hip enough to have a “tablet” device) to access the Online Book of Common Prayer and the lessons of the Lectionary, and then having completed the Office and my prayers, I move on to scanning the media sites, and then to Facebook.
I don’t often comment in these meditations on any linkage between the two, but today I couldn’t help but note how apropos the quoted verse from Psalm 101 (the first of two morning psalms today) was to New York Post article offered by a colleague on his Facebook wall. The headline reads, Rich Manhattan moms hire handicapped tour guides so kids can cut lines at Disney World. According to the first paragraph,
Some wealthy Manhattan moms have figured out a way to cut the long lines at Disney World — by hiring disabled people to pose as family members so they and their kids can jump to the front, The Post has learned. The “black-market Disney guides” run $130 an hour, or $1,040 for an eight-hour day.
One mom boasted that her child, through this cynical manipulation of Disney’s compassion for the disabled, waited only one minute for a ride, while other children stood in line for 2-1/2 hours.
This goes beyond deceit and falsehood; this is more than the mere telling of lies. This is trafficking in human flesh. This is prostitution; there’s no other word for it. Granted there’s no sex involved, but let’s be honest about what is going on here. The children of these wealthy moms are being taught that it is perfectly all right to purchase another person’s body for their pleasure. These disabled persons are offering their handicapped flesh in the service of the child’s desire for entertainment and gratification (instant gratification, in fact).
I am really blown away and disheartened by this report. I struggle to be positive about humankind. I try every day to eschew my natural inclination toward cynicism; theologically, I reject the Calvinist (some would say Augustinian) notion that as a consequence of Adam’s Fall, every person born into the world is morally corrupt, enslaved to sin and, apart from God’s grace, utterly unable to choose good. And then along comes something like this, and my cynicism bursts its bounds and this idea of “total depravity” (as this Calvinist doctrine is called) looks awfully accurate!
Or maybe it’s not my cynicism! I did a little mathematical calculation based on the fees listed in the article and figure out that a “black-market Disney guide” who “works” only 15 days a month (and takes two months of the year off) would have an annual income of $156,000! I don’t begrudge anyone income honestly made; nor do I criticize anyone for making the best and highest use of the abilities (or disabilities?) they have been given. But come on! Is this income honestly made? Is this the best and highest use of human potential? Is there anything more cynical, more depraved than this callous use of a handicap or disability? I don’t think so.
“Those who act deceitfully shall not dwell in my house, and those who tell lies shall not continue in my sight.” But apparently they will dwell in Cinderella’s Castle and continue to the head of the line at Disney World.
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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.