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Wow. Makes you wonder how some people make it into management.*sheesH*
"stupid" is right.
"The hotel leases its land from the Catholic Church."Oops.
It's almost like the Manager never worked in a hotel before. He forgot that most important rule. Don't F__k with the Bell Captain!
After 35 years I am still surprised at the number of bullies and sociopaths who make it to senior management positions.
He should've wiped it off, said nothing and offered it up.
I rather doubt anyone at the hotel misses that manager.
Hardly surprising considering the hostility toward Christianity, Catholism in particular. What's more surprising is that the manager was canned.
That should read Catholicism. I need more coffee.
He should have used the defense, the ghost of Leona Helmsley possed me and I turned into a bitch! When Leona was still alive, if you managed to work for her for more than six months, being fired was actually a wonderful endorsement for any other hotel in New York. If you could survive six months with Leona they figured you were awesome.
Excuse me "possessed" by Leona Helmsley. I need coffee too.
I rather doubt anyone at the hotel misses that manager.Yeah, he sounds like a real peach.
There was a toast to his sacking in the kitchen immediately after...
I like the fact that Mr. Cowdray flew in from jolly olde England to fire the manager.
The manager got the sackcloth for the bell captain's ashes.
The ashes were a form of Free Speech that hurts no one except the feelings of anti-christians. It is a powerful example to see this guy fired for shutting down christian free speech. I hope this starts a trend back towards our traditional values of standing up for free speech by Christians. That is one of our unalienable rights.
I wonder if the reactions here would be any different if the manager had said "take that towel off your head" or "whipe that dot off your forehead." I hope not.
jimspice, I don't think they'd be too different, although the people who lament the so-called war on Christianity (what a ridiculous phrase) would have to twist the facts even further to make their point.
As an aside, it seems to me the practice has changed over the years. When I was in Catholic school in the late 1960s we'd walk hands folded accross the playground to the church and have a dab of ashes about the size of a thumb print on our foreheads.Today, it seems like they trace this huge messy cross on your forehead. To the cynic in me it seems like the church has since identified parishioners' foreheads as free billboard space.
"I wonder if the reactions here would be any different if the manager had said "take that towel off your head"...Well, the hotel would be a pile of rubble, or did you mean something else?
Hoosier wrote: "What's more surprising is that the manager was canned."My thoughts exactly!Trey
EDH,did this coincide with the events, when instead of putting the nuns, parishioners, and priests artwork of felt banners up in the church, the bishop in certain dioseceace opted for the parish priests to read(market) books like the Purpose Driven Life on the congregation which came with professional marketing banners hung 360 degrees around the circle.It was then that i tried gong to church again, and that's all i saw was Jesus throwing over tables and ripping down cloths. I thought he then whispered in my ear, find your own way, Nancy. I looked up and saw the exit sign.
I wonder if the reactions here would be any different if the manager had said "take that towel off your head" or "whipe that dot off your forehead." I hope not.Of course not. But there is a difference here---those adornments are an every day part of the person's attire, so they were in effect part of the package when the person was hired.Not so with an ashen forehead, unless the person happened to have been interviewed or hired on Ash Wednesday.I'm not saying the difference matters, I'm just saying that this manager probably would not have been caught saying something like that because headdresses and dots aren't one-off events like this one.
Didn't Ted Turner get in a bit of hot water for casually insulting Catholics over Ash Wednesday ashes a few years ago?
To the cynic in me it seems like the church has since identified parishioners' foreheads as free billboard space.(laugh). This is why bangs never go out of style.
Madison man... I have not noticed a war on Christianity in the USA. But I have noticed a war on Christian Speech in public in the USA for an expressed reason that people feel offended by it and should be protected from hearing any supernatural claims expressed publicly in the Christian message, especially those claims expressed publicly by Easter Week celebrations.
commenter: It certainly sounds like a pretty damaged church, that. And if you choose to use the inauthentic practices of that church as evidence Jesus doesn't really exist, so be it. But if someone truly whispered to you to "find your own way", then it certainly wasn't Him. That's the last thing he'd say to anyone.
Actually, the ashes are a reminder of our grief that our Savior died and we killed him by our sinful nature. It is a sign of mourning, of repentence, it is a call to better behavior.It is also taking a stand and identifying yourself as a serious Christian.Having said that, had I been asked to wipe off the mark when I got to work, I would have done so meekly and humbly. It would be the Christian thing to do.Trey
i must have been high or talking to myself again. Actually the church is rather beautiful. I liked going in there looking up at the ceiling, seeing the golden ratio, the isoceles right triangles, the 30-60-90 triangles, the spirals, the division of tens. I really liked the parish priest, maybe it was the orders from the bishop and the cheering congregation that was fooling me.
Free speech is *such* a bummer.
NYC, Irish Catholic Bell Captain, land owned by Catholic Church. What part of the manager is a fool doesn't anyone understand?I wonder what would have happened if he told a Jew to take that beanie off of his head? The man was oblivious to reality.
It's hard to know who that church was getting orders from, commenter! :-)
EDH:When I was in the seminary not that many years ago, we were taught to make "generous use" of the stuff of sacraments and sacramentals: anoint with more oil, pour more water, etc. Sometimes its impractical: babies don't like water in their eyes; but sometimes its meaningful. Since a lot of us were taught the same, that might explain more ashes on folks' foreheads. I make big crosses myself.About the manager: I actually agree that the employee should have wiped off the ashes. There's nothing requiring someone receiving ashes to wear them any amount of time. Of course the manager should have asked courteously, and I think he'd have been within his rights. But the wisest course is what I suspect most managers do on Ash Wednesday, which is to do nothing about it, unless the employee is in food service or something. I mean, really, who is going to complain that the bell captain has ashes on his forehead?If this was the only issue, firing was too severe. I suspect it wasn't the only incident.
Trey, yes, but this also has to do with the manager's choice of words.
Wow, that's why the blogosphere in general and this blog in particular is so cool. Thank you for the particularly relevant perspective, Father Fox!
the little cuban one has got it.A polite, "Now that you're at work, could you wipe the ashes off your forehead -- many of our guests will wonder why your face is dirty," would have sufficed. Instead the boss disrespected the man's religion.
It seems likely that the manager wasn't familiar with this practice. Had he known what it was, and used foul language in reference to it, then he's clearly an asshole, and should be fired.But if he's never seen this ritual before, firing seems excessive. He should have received an explanation of what the ashes signify, and he should have been given the opportunity to apologize.Of course, in general, he shouldn't go around dropping F-bombs on employees; but a firing offense?I'm 43 years old, by the way, and I can't recall ever having seen anyone with a cross of ash on their forehead.
Former law student:Agree...but I also sense that a wise manager might well have let it go.Most people know about the most common religious practices, and they know there are religious or cultural practices that they don't know about, but which show up with signs, symbols, head wear, clothing, or marks on people's faces. I don't know why some people have colored dots on their foreheads (well, I have a general idea, but I don't know what they mean exactly, and what all the protocols are); but I know they mean something to that person, and really, why should I get into a snit about it? Same with folks who wear turban sorts of things, or women who wear special headdresses, or men who have special hats and longish hair.Anyone who did wonder why the man had dirt on his face would find out, not too long after, why--when he asked either a manager, or another employee, or a guest, or the bartender, or someone on the elevator: "It is some religious thing." "Oh, okay."We Christians shouldn't be obnoxious about such things; but on the other hand, I don't really buy the idea that it's disruptive. Especially in New York City, where you see almost everything before very long.
Pastafarian:It's possible the manager wasn't familiar with it, but someone who works in Midtown Manhattan, not knowing anything about Ash Wednesday and wearing ashes? A little hard to believe.
The manager of a hotel located across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral might have noticed the long lines on Ash Wednesday. He might also have noticed all the people in the city with the same dark smudge on their foreheads. A smart man would ask a question before going to employees with profanity laced demands.Were I the employee If the manager had asked politely then I would have wiped it off. However, that kind of demand would 'get my Irish up' and I would have refused and made a fuss. My favorite line of the story? "The hotel leases its land from the Catholic Church" As Pogo said above - Oops!
Suppose the bell captain was sipping coffee and had a little coffee mustache, and went out to deal with guests that way; and the hotel manager had told him the exact same thing in the same words. Would those here who think firing him was excessive still think so?"'We take the well-being of our employees extremely seriously and that is why our CEO, Mr. Cowdray, went to New York in person to deal with this matter,' the company said."What kind of idiot works for a company that "takes the well-being of employees extremely seriously" (and evidently they do) and uses such abusive language to an underling?
Having said that, had I been asked to wipe off the mark when I got to work, I would have done so meekly and humbly. It would be the Christian thing to do.Wiping the ashes off would be OK -- but would you then complain about the request to human resources, or would you let it go?I agree with the speculation that this was just the latest in a long series of missteps by this man. There's no plausible way he would not know what the ashes were, and there's no excuse for him talking to anyone that way. I want to know who complained about him -- the bell captain, or was there another witness? Was it a formal complaint or just something that management caught wind of and decided to pursue? I'm curious but I doubt we'll ever get more information.
TMink --Hoosier wrote: "What's more surprising is that the manager was canned.""My thoughts exactly!"Please, guys. I'd have fired someone for behaving like that. It wasn't that this guy was antiChristian, he was an ass.
There's no plausible way he would not know what the ashes were, and there's no excuse for him talking to anyone that way.I was raised Catholic and spent Ash Wednesdays with ashes on my forehead for 18 years but now, not really paying attention to Ash Wednesday, I find myself surprised when I see the ashes and it takes a minute to register when I see the first person with "f---ing s--t" on his or face. So, I think its plausible that he didn't know it was Ash Wednesday. I agree that no manager should talk to his staff like that, but that's a separate issue.
I'm curious how conservatives who usually rail against "political correctness run amok" feel about this kind of situation. I mean, on some level, asking your employees to come to work without dirt smeared on their faces seems pretty reasonable, as would be a rule against prostheletizing or advertising your religion at work. I'd certainly say Catholics should be allowed to wear their ashes but I'm kind of a First Amendment fundamentalist liberal.
Joseph -- The key to the whole story, as others have pointed out, is found in a single, terse paragraph.Nothing else matters.
Wiping the ashes off is the Christian thing to do??Huh? Christians are called to be witnesses of Christ to the world, even in the face of opposition or even persecution. Jesus is a "sign of contradiction" in the world, and Christians are called to reflect that sign of contradiction.Jesus Himself was opposed and repeatedly told to stop preaching because He was offending people, yet He continued. After Pentecost, the Apostles were opposed and repeatedly told to stop preaching because they were offending people, yet they continued. Christians throughout history have been opposed and repeatedly told to stop preaching because they were offending people, yet they continued.Jesus, the Apostles, and many of the Christian faithful refused to "wipe that f----g s--t" off their faces, so to speak, even though it ended up getting them killed.Christians are called to be witnesses to the world. Indeed, they were promised by Jesus Himself that such witness would invite opposition, but that they nevertheless had an obligation to truth and Christian love to continue being a witness. The Greek word "martyr," means "witness."Jesus said, ""Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. . . ."Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. . . ."Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father."Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man 'against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household.'"--Mt. 10:16-18, 21-22, 32-36 The Christian thing is to forgive and pray for one's persecutors, but the Christian thing is also not to effectively deny Christ by wiping off the ashes, especially in the face of opposition. The Christian thing to do is to acknowledge Christ by persevering and continuing to profess the faith, to profess truth in charity, even if that means persecution and martyrdom.
Flexo:The Gospel read, at Ash Wednesday Mass, contains the advice our Lord gave regarding praying, fasting and giving alms:When you fast, do not fast as the hypocrites do, for others to see...but wash your face, and fast in secret, so that your Father, who sees in secret, will repay you (words to that effect).While I see nothing wrong with folks wearing their ashes; on the other hand, one might reasonably conclude from that Gospel passage--read on Ash Wednesday every year--that the ashes, and the repentance and fasting they symbolize, are for God, "who sees in secret." Joseph:I'm a conservative with libertarian leanings, and I offered my comments above.
...but I'm kind of a First Amendment fundamentalist liberal.Except when one refers to people as Negroes or Homosexuals. Liar.
...but I'm kind of a First Amendment fundamentalist liberal.Except when one refers to people as Negroes or Homosexuals.Um, no. I don't think you should be forbidden from or penalized for exercising your freedom of speech or conscience, whether expressed by wearing ashes or using an antiquated term. I'm opposed to regulation of hate speech, hate crimes.But that doesn't mean I think one's choice of words and actions have no meaning. We can and should judge people based on their speech and actions, but I support a very liberal breathing room for people to express without punishment ideas that the majority may dislike, reject or find offensive.
Joseph, I understand your surprise at seeing ashes on a person's forehead these days. But you are not the manager of a hotel across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC. Your job, I'll assume, doesn't rest on the assumption that you know how to work with people. You probably don't work with hundreds of people of different creeds, races, nationalities every week the way this guy was supposed to. I think it's entirely plausible that a typical person would say, "You've got a smudge on your forehead," -- I don't think it's plausible that a man in this guy's position would respond so viciously to another person's visible sign of faith out of ignorance.
I love it when a blog entry makes me burst out laughing.
Father --Repenting and fasting in secret -- is that the reason that one would wipe off ashes when expressly faced with anti-Christian opposition?If repenting and fasting in secret were the reason for wiping off the ashes, then folks should wipe them off before leaving the church and returning to the world. Indeed, why get the ashes at all?? The very public reception of ashes at the very public celebration of Mass is hardly repenting and fasting in secret.To be sure, one should not go put on sackcloth and sit in the public square smearing oneself with ashes moaning and announcing to the world, "hey everybody, see how devout I am?"Similarly, one should not go up to strangers and say "hey, look at my forehead, look at how good I am at this penitential practice." One should not use one's ashen forehead as some advertising billboard for Jesus. But that is hardly what one does when one exits the church and goes out into the world after receiving ashes. That is hardly what one does when one keeps the ashes when one returns to work.To be sure, humility requires that one not go out of their way to call attention to themselves, but the obligation of witness requires that one not go out of their way to hide their faith.When one wipes off the ashes specifically in response to an attack on Christ, he is not engaging in humble repenting in secret, he is hiding his faith, he is putting God in the closet, he is denying Christ to the world.No one should feel obligated to wipe off ashes in the face of anti-Christian sentiment any more than one should feel obligated to avoid answering the question when he or she is asked if she is a Christian, or any more than a priest should feel obligated to remove his collar and wear only lay clothing when he goes out in public even though there are many out there who hate the Church.
The director was employed by the Company for fewer than two years. The bell captain had twenty-five years. Reading between the lines, I'd bet that this incident was the straw that broke the camel's back. I'd love to see the director's employment history. I know that he won and award, but that doesn't mean antything. The hotel chain did the right thing. Bullies in the work place are a HUGE problem. I barely survived an encounter with one. They wreak havoc with people's lives. Until I experienced it, I had no idea, and thought people were whiners or didn't know how to take care of themselves. And this was after 40 + years in the workplace. There's a good book on this by a professor at Stanford:http://tinyurl.com/crkvcg
Flexo:I didn't say anything about anyone being "obligated" to wipe off the ashes. I simply meant to respond to what I took you to say: namely, that one would be wrong to wipe off the ashes.I stand by what I've said already, which is above, in plain English, but I'll recap briefly: I think the employer or manager would not be out of line asking an employee to wipe off the ashes, and I think an employee would do well to go along. Clearly the manner in this case was wrong. I didn't say this before, but: I'm not an expert in law, but in my view, there's no legal issue here. I don't see that an employee is entitled to advertise ones religious practices while on the job. If I work at Taco Bell, my job is to serve food, or take money, or clean, or whatever, and unless there's something my religion requires me to wear or do, then leave it at home if asked. My employer has the right to say, "do your job"!I also think a wiser manager would have let it go, and I suspect that's what happens 99% of the time, in workplaces on Ash Wednesday--apart from employees in food service or health care, where someone might reasonably object to an employee having, well, dirt on ones face.As a priest, there are times I judge it more prudent not to wear my clerical attire, and I don't. If I want to visit Turkey, my understanding of the law is I cannot wear clerical attire on the street. If I want to visit the holy places there, I will have to go along with that, or else stay home.
Googling the ex-director's name (a famous one in Switzerland), I see he was born n Bern(e), a famously Protestant canton.The Zwingli-led Reformers made a practice of destroying Church statuary and paintings as supposed idols.He might simply have been anti-Catholic.
Now, after we have all ahd our fun, made serious comments, and gave our points of view, let us examine the real reason the manager was fired.He violated the one rule that cannot be violated. He crossed the line. He stepped over a boundary that was forbidden.The manager of the hotel violated the stupid rule. The one rule that would and should cause anyone to get canned.
Elcubanito wrote: "Trey, yes, but this also has to do with the manager's choice of words."Well, there is that! 8)Trey
I would have taken the attitude of the first Bishop of New York City John Hughes. I would have meekly taken the ashes off my head at work and later looked up the manager and beat the living shit out of him. After I gave him the first shot of course. They call that "muscular Christianity." We need a lot more of that in my humble opinion.
Joan asked: "Wiping the ashes off would be OK -- but would you then complain about the request to human resources, or would you let it go?"Wow, what a great question. I think letting it go would be the right thing to do, but I know there is a good chance I would get all huffy about it with HR. A part of me would want to retaliate. Not the better part.Trey
Olig wrote: "I'd have fired someone for behaving like that. It wasn't that this guy was antiChristian, he was an ass."Yeah Olig, but you rock! You and Palladian and Rev are some of the most tolerant and cool athiests I know. I admire and enjoy all three of you. While none of you share my belief system, you all support my right to have it and practice it in peace. None of you write me off because I hold beliefs that are foolishness to you. You all rock.Trey
Flexo asked: "Wiping the ashes off is the Christian thing to do??"Yes. 8)It would be acting in humility before my boss. I completely understand and accept your statments about standing for our faith, they are inspiring. But in that moment, I think the humble course would be the correct thing to do.But then I am a sinful human being without hope save for the gracious mercy of God, so I could absolutely be wrong about this.Trey
Flexo wrote: "When one wipes off the ashes specifically in response to an attack on Christ, he is not engaging in humble repenting in secret, he is hiding his faith, he is putting God in the closet, he is denying Christ to the world."I could not agree with you more. I would not wipe it off out of fear, but out of humility. And I would tell the boss I would pray for him.I cannot be frightened out of my spirituality. But I can see how it looked that way.Trey
I’m a little surprised at all the people who seemed to be defending the manager as doing this out of ignorance. According to the article I read, the manager had 35 years of experience in the hotel business. That means he is 50 years old at an absolute minimum. I find it very hard to believe that in his 50 years on earth, and, as one person pointed out, working in Midtown Manhattan, he didn’t know about Ash Wednesday. There was also the contretemps a few years ago when Ted Turner called his employees “Jesus Freaks” when they came back to work on Ash Wednesday. The manager almost certainly would have heard about that.Former law student suggests that it is because the manager comes from a Protestant canton in Switzerland, but I have a tough time buying that. I was raised Episcopalian (you know, Henry VIII leaving the Catholic Church, sacking monasteries, and all that) and I grew up getting ashes on my forehead. I believe Lutherans do the same, as do Orthodox, and possibly Presbyterians and Methodists. So I‘m not sure that Protestant canton thing is going to fly. Ashes on Ash Wednesday are pretty ecumenical. Maggie45 thinks the manager is a bully and I think that is the basic problem. Only this time, he got outsmarted (as bullies sometimes do—not often enough, but still there are occasional victories). Kudos to Olig for pointing out that the guy was an a$$, though I think that might be too kind. I think Maggie 45 is closer to the real core: the guy is a bully and a coward.Joan wonders who turned him in. My theory is that it was not the Bell Captain, but rather a wealthy and influential guest (whether the guest was Catholic or not) who overheard the exchange and started making calls. This makes the manager *really* stupid.Pastafarian has never seen a cross of ash in 43 years. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt as to your truthfulness, but I am not impressed by your eyesight or powers of observation.
I find it very hard to believe that in his 50 years on earth, and, as one person pointed out, working in Midtown Manhattan, he didn’t know about Ash Wednesday.I'm in my 30s, was raised a Christian, and honestly had no Earthly idea it was Ash Wednesday. If I saw someone with ash smudges on their face I'd assume they were dirty for some reason.
Rev, you must have been in a very low-church denomination. I’m going to do some research and get back to you, but for the time being I am going to stand by my assertion that ashes on Ash Wednesday are pretty ecumenical.
I'm a practicing Protestant, raised at times Baptist and at times Methodist. I currently attend a so-called "Bible church" in a largely Protestant/unchurched town (Austin). I've never participated in an Ash Wednesday ceremony, and I don't believe I have ever heard it taught or discussed in church. I've never practiced Lent, and I don't party on Fat Tuesday. So when I wake up on Ash Wednesday I don't generally know that's what day it is. Many years, including this one, I'll go the whole day without seeing an ash mark.SO... I find it plausible that a non-Catholic might not immediately recognize an ash mark the first time or two he sees one in a particular year. It certainly would take me a few moments with furrowed brow before I figured it out; and off I was busy or distracted I might just assume it was a smudge.I find it less plausible that this hotel manager didn't know it, given the hotel's proximity to a Catholic church. And regardless I find his bullying approach unacceptable, and if I were his boss he'd either be grovelling for forgiveness from his victim or be fired.
Frodo, I was raised Episcopalian. I remember doing the Ash Wednesday thing, although nobody wore the ash mark around all day except maybe for the little kids.But the point is, it is totally irrelevant to my life. I don't currently know anybody who does it; I never see anyone with the ash cross mark. I didn't see anyone with it today either -- yeah, I know, California, but there are a lot of Christians here. And LOTS of Catholics.
I noted earlier that I thought it was entirely plausible that the manager didn't know it was ashes on Ash Wednesday. I grew up in a heavily Catholic area and I wore ashes but most people who identify as Catholic do not go to church on Ash Wednesday, let alone wear ashes all day. Again, MOST CATHOLICS DO NOT GO TO CHURCH ON ASH WEDNESDAY, LET ALONE WEAR ASHES ALL DAY. It is unusual even in places with a lot of Catholics. And if you define Catholics as those only those who go to church on Ash Wednesday and wear ashes all day, then "Catholics" represent a small percentage of the population, even in Catholic-dense places like New York. And now as a nonpracticing/former/cultural Catholic I forget that its Ash Wednesday and every year am surprised at first if/when I see someone with ashes. And I say this as someone who has been intimately involved in the church, who thinks Catholics should certainly be allowed to wear ashes on Ash Wednesday, and who thinks this manager got his due.
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