Friday, July 17, 2009

C Street House is a Bad Frat

Centre College is favored with many fraternities for such a small school. There are good frats and bad frats.

A good frat lifts the brothers up to a higher standard. The weaker students are helped by the stronger ones. The less moral are helped by the more moral. The philanthropic work of the whole chapter helps each member develop the habits of being civic minded. All fraternities profess high ideals. When the organization actually works to help each other live up to those ideals, the result is very good for the men and for society.

A bad frat comes to think that "brotherhood" means that you back the play of the biggest fool in the house. If the Bluto of the house yells "Hey, y'all, let's go ... [do something stupid]" they all rise as one to do it to. If Otter sneaks his latest conquest back into the house, the other guys don't try to talk him out of it - they organize the cover-up.

The C Street House in Washington was born as a remarkable experiment in organizing poweful Christian men. Several members of Congress share a house, which also serves as their pastoral counseling and mutual accountability group. It has been in the news lately because several sex scandals by its members have been exposed all at once.

An example of C Street functioning as a good fraternity was when Sen. Coburn forced Sen. Ensign to write a letter to his mistress apologizing for using her for his [Ensign's] own pleasure. Coburn did not also see the sin in the political corruption of that affair - putting his mistress' son on the payroll, and the later payoffs and hush money to the mistress and her husband after Ensign fired them. Nonetheless, it was a start. The fact that Ensign resumed the affair immediately is not Coburn's fault, or C Street's. Some people are too corrupt to be helped even by their chosen accountability group.

It is hard to know whether C Street was being good or bad in Gov. Mark Sanford's sex scandal. Sanford said he "sought counsel" from C Street, which clearly didn't work. Sanford lived in the C Street house when he was in Congress.

Now another family-values Republican Congressman has been caught in a sex scandal. Chip Pickering, when he was a Congressman from Mississippi and living in the C Street house, had an affair that is now at the heart of his wife's divorce suit. The accountability group was obviously ineffective in stopping that affair. Worse, some of "wrongful conduct" between Pickering and his mistress supposedly took place in the C Street house. Pickering's mistress then put him on the company payroll to lobby his old buddies in Congress. This is more than just a failure of the C Streeters to be good Christian men of power. This is complicity in wickedness, corruption, and stupidity.

C Street House has become a bad frat.


Jessie {A Punctuated Life} said...

I love this analogy!

TallCoolOne said...

Very nice post, Gruntled.

Kerri said...

I think as social creatures we both create and strive to meet the standards set by the company around us... whether it's in a frat, dorm, or house full of senators.

Mike Licht said...

There's nothing sinister about the C Street Fellowship. The group just believes that "love thy neighbor" trumps the Ten Commandments if you're rich, white, male and Republican.


TallCoolOne said...

Gruntled: what, in your estimation, makes a "good" frat go "bad"? Are there certain indicators that would lead one to expect such a drift? Or is this phenomenon more psychological than not?

A possible post for the blog?

Monica said...

They go bad because white men are evil. Blue eyed devils as they say. We need Barney Frank to clean up this mess. Maybe another czar? I nominate John Edwards or Bill Clinton.