Hannah Arendt, writing on the war crimes trial of Adolph Eichmann, remarked on the “banality of evil.” But what did she mean by that, and what does it have to do with Grace Episcopal?
In her research, Arendt found that Eichmann was unremarkable in every way. Noting that he was a rather anodyne bureaucrat, she found him “neither brutal nor sadistic,” but rather “terrifyingly normal.” In short, he was shallow and clueless.
Similarly, John Stuart Mill said, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
Such is the case for Grace Episcopal Alexandria. There, a beautiful building and lovely liturgy take the place of true faith. People are friendly, but for years have either ignored, or quietly lamented without getting involved, perjuring priest Bob Malm’s feckless performance as rector. Whether it is the more than $1 million that the parish squandered on his personal residence, his $100,000 bonus at a time when the church was not saving for the future, Bob’s refusal to address HR issues, hoarding, bullying, and other problems in the parish, or even his indifference to forming relationships with parish leaders, all make for a toxic church.
Similarly, bullies in the parish have been ignored for years, particularly in the church office, the choir, and the altar guild. I get that the altar guild doesn’t like change, but that doesn’t excuse bad behavior.
Worst of all is Bob Malm’s bullying, lying, his willingness to drag a dying woman into court, and his perjury. Yet these behaviors enjoy the full support of the diocese, the vestry, and the church as a whole. Nor was Bob “shooting from the hip,” with his perjury, for he did so in writing, under oath, while advised by church legal counsel, in front of notary and parishioner Jane Rosman. And let’s not forget his perjurious claim that his wife Leslie was the only person in his family who had blogged about our conflict, for he knew full well his daughter Lindsey had done so.
So, if you believe that bullying, lying, and committing perjury are wrong, yet you are paying a pledge, donating money, or otherwise supporting Grace Church and not doing anything about these issues, you are part of the problem.
Indeed, evil is banal.