Archive for the ‘Political Statements’ Category

Face Masks   Leave a comment

MUTUALITY, PUBLIC SAFETY, TUCKER CARLSON, AND THE FOX NOISE CHANNEL

As circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed, so has official guidance.  For example, now that vaccines for people aged 16 years or older have become more widely available in the United States of America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new guidelines regarding the wearing of face masks in public.  This pandemic has presented many challenges.  Public health professionals, whose sole agenda is to save lives, have had to study a proverbial moving target.  Hence, official guidelines have changed over time.

The target continues to move.  Therefore, data remains incomplete.  We need to remember that as we focus on what we can know in real time.  We can know much.  Whether the situation improves or worsens and how quickly it does that depends greatly on how we behave as individuals, societies, institutions, and governments.  May we not squander blessed progress.

Tucker Carlson, of the FOX Noise Channel, has encouraged people who think as he does to confront those still wearing face masks outdoors.  I have learned to expect especially potent and rich organic fertilizer from the FOX Noise Channel and from Carlson, in particular.  They have long presented themselves as champions of freedom, of a sort–freedom from, not freedom to.  During the last four or so years, in particular, the FOX Noise Channel has actually embraced a Nativistic, White nationalistic, and fascistic agenda as part of Donald Trump’s fascistic death cult of personality.  Even certain prominent Republicans (principled conservatives, I call them), former office holders, have noticed this with great alarm.

Fascism is not freedom.  No, it is a form of tyranny.

I am fully vaccinated.  Therefore, according to the most recent official guidance, I may safely and responsibly forgo wearing face masks outdoors under certain circumstances.  Sometimes I do forgo wearing face masks outdoors.  If, for example, nobody else is around, I do not wear face masks outdoors.  Yet I still wear two face masks outdoors sometimes.  For example, I wear them when walking on sidewalks.  I try to maintain a social distance from other people, but that is not always possible.  Besides, assuming that someone is at least 16 years old, I cannot look at him or her and tell if he or she is unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or fully vaccinated.  By wearing two face masks, I am not endangering anyone, corrupting anyone’s morals, or behaving indecently.  Therefore, nobody has the moral right to confront me for wearing two face masks outdoors.

I leave Carlson and company at the FOX Noise Channel to their fascistic death cult of personality.  If they want to compete for the Darwin Awards, that is their choice.  It is a bad one, but it is still their option.  I have the moral right to object when thew spew organic fertilizer that needlessly endangers human lives.

Perhaps I really do not have to wear two face masks when walking on sidewalks..  If I err, I hope to do so on the side of caution and mutuality.  This is part of my applied interpretation of the Golden Rule.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 29, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Academic Freedom   3 comments

AND ASSAULTS UPON IT

Academic freedom is precious.  It is also essential.  The advocacy for academic freedom is a core principle for me.  I strive to speak out for it and to practice it consistently, regardless of whether any given threat to it comes from the Right or the Left.  I aspire to avoid hypocrisy as much as possible.

For years, for example, I have cringed at calls for “safe spaces,” in practical terms, spaces in which to hide from theories and perspectives one does not like.  These kinds of “safe spaces” epitomize a misplaced sense of entitlement run amok.  One purpose of education–higher education, in particular–is to broaden the intellectual horizons of students.  Educators should, of course, teach their assigned subjects; staying on topic is crucial, too.  “Coloring inside the lines,” so to speak does not constitute bowing to censorship and does not indicate any threat to academic freedom.

Many conservatives pretend that liberals (with whom I usually sympathize) have a monopoly on seeking “safe spaces” away from certain perspectives.  Evidence indicates, however, that many conservatives seek “safe spaces” of their own.  This week, in Idaho, the controversial theory du jour is Critical Race Theory.  Moving to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory–even in public colleges and universities in Idaho–constitutes an assault on academic freedom.  Critical Race Theory is germane to certain academic disciplines.  Those whose disciplines include Critical Race Theory should have the right to bring it up when it is applicable.

My experience as a classroom instructor informs my perspective.  The prospect of some authority from on high legally forbidding me to teach a part of my discipline appalls me.  Even the threat of such a law or policy appalls me, regardless of the ideological roots of that prohibition.

Whether a person, institution, or government respects academic freedom is easy to determine.  One needs simply to observe actions and policies.  Deeds reveal creeds.

I have granted my students the right to disagree with me in subjective matters.  Objective reality is what it is.  Therefore, I have marked off for getting facts wrong.  I have also marked off for making incoherent arguments not rooted in facts presented.  That has been fair.  “Back up your arguments,” I have told pupils.  “Think critically,” I have instructed them.  I have returned papers bearing high grades–“A’s”–and comments about why interpretations were wrong.  That was fair, too.  When students fulfilled the terms of the assignment, they earned high grades.  And their interpretations were wrong.  Those interpretations did not affect their grades, nor should they have.  Certain students have expressed surprise at this combination of grade and comments.  These students have also tended to give me favorable evaluations.

In another case, I was grading final essays one semester.  I had specified that the minimum length was to be eight full pages.  One student submitted only four pages.  I read his essay closely.  He backed up his argument with evidence.  His interpretation was rubbish, but he backed everything up with facts.  I assigned his essay a grade of 50.  When the student asked me why, I explained that he had submitted half of an essay, so 50 was the maximum possible grade.  (This was consistent with the terms of my syllabus.  Regardless of content, 50 was the maximum possible grade for a four-page-long essay.)  I told him that, If he had submitted at least eight pages in which he had argued as well as he did in four pages, I would have given him an “A” on the essay.  (I would have.)  Anyhow, he earned an “A” in the course.   He seemed satisfied with my explanation.

I strive to avoid hypocrisy regarding academic freedom.  More people, institutions, and governments, should do the same.  They ought to respect academic freedom.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Historical Reality, Collective Denial, Political Inconvenience, and Truth-Telling   3 comments

THE SINS OF THE FATHERS

Today, on the calendar of The Episcopal Church, is Genocide Remembrance.

Today, President Biden called the Armenian Genocide a genocide.  It was a genocide, objectively.  Turkish denial, as old as that genocide, has continued.  Furthermore, the authoritarian government of Turkey has issued its predictable objection of President Biden’s simple act of telling the truth.

Admitting unpleasant truths about national and regional sins can be extremely difficult.  I know.  Witness my country, the United States of America.  We are a country founded partially on slave labor and on the racism that enabled slavery.  Anyone who thinks that the legacy of slavery ended in 1865 is a fool.  And anyone who imagines that racism is dead in the United States of America is willfully oblivious.  Yet much of the U.S. Right Wing seeks to minimize or deny these truths.  

I am also a Southerner, although one may be hard-pressed to detect that, based on my accent.  The Lost Cause of the Confederacy–that slavery was incidental to secession and the Civil War–is, to borrow a term from Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), a “damn lie.”  Documentary evidence from 1860-1861 indicates this.  One may read, for example, the “Cornerstone Speech” of Confederate Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens (March 1861), which indicates that race-based slavery was the cornerstone of the Confederate States of America.  One may also notice a change in writings and statements after Confederate defeat, when leading former Confederates minimized the role of slavery.  Yet the Lost Cause of the Confederacy persists.

What is going on in all three cases?  We human beings like to think of ourselves as good people.  We also like to think of our ancestors as good people.  But admitting that our ancestors committed genocide, condoned slavery, or were vile racists and segregationists seems to call our character into question.  God does not visit the sins of the fathers upon members of subsequent generations.  (Ezekiel 18 contradicts Exodus 20:5-6).  We do that ourselves, by not admitting what members of previous generations did, and how those sins have benefited us.  Telling the truth is cleansing.  It sets us free.  First, however, we need to get over our discomfort with the truth.  Only then can reconciliation become possible.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2021 COMMON ERA

GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE

THE FEAST OF SAINT EGBERT OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND SAINT ADALBERT OF EGMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT FIDELIS OF SIGMARINGEN, CAPUCHIN FRIAR AND MARTYR, 1622

THE FEAST OF JOHANN WALTER, “FIRST CANTOR OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF SAINT MELLITUS, BISHOP OF LONDON, AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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Feast of Obadiah Homes (October 15)   1 comment

Above:  United Baptist Church, Newport, Rhode Island

Image Source = Google Earth

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OBADIAH HOLMES, SR. (BAPTIZED MARCH 18, 1609 OR 1610-DIED OCTOBER 15, 1682)

English Baptist Minister and Champion of Religious Liberty in New England

Born Obadiah Hulme

The Reverend Obadiah Holmes, Sr., comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Many people accept a host of falsehoods about the history of the United States of America.  One of these lies is that most Puritans came to this country (when it was still a collection of British colonies) to practice religious freedom.  Shall I point to the numerous examples that prove the existence of Puritan theocracies in New England?  How about the four executed Quakers (link and link) in the Massachusetts Bay colony?  I point also to the cases of Roger Williams (1603?-1683) and Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643) and company, exiled for dissenting.  To that list I add the case of Obadiah Holmes, Sr.

Obadiah Hulme grew up in a devout Anglican family.  He, baptized on March 18, 1609 or 1610, in Didsbury, Lancashire, England, was a son of Katherine Johnson Hulme (d. 1630) and Robert Hulme (d. 1640).  Obadiah led a rebellious, wild youth.  After his spiritual awakening, his blamed himself for his mother’s death.  Our saint was, by profession, a weaver and a glass maker.  On November 20, 1630, at the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, St. Denys and St. George, Manchester (now Manchester Cathedral), he married Katherine Hyde.  The couple had nine children, starting with John, who died in 1633.  The other eight children (four sons and four daughters) were:

  1. Jonathan;
  2. Mary;
  3. Martha;
  4. Samuel;
  5. Obadiah, Jr.;
  6. Lydia;
  7. John (II); and
  8. Hopestill.

The growing Holmes family immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638.  They settled in Salem and joined the church there.  Obadiah worked as a glass maker.  He, finding the church in Salem too rigid, left and moved the family to Reheboth in 1645.  Reheboth proved unsatisfactory, too.  Obadiah and the eight other members of the church there split away (during a dispute over infant baptism) and formed a house church in 1649.  He became the minister of the new congregation.  According to the local court, the house church was illegal.  In 1650, Obadiah and the rest of his congregation moved to Newport, Rhode Island.  They affiliated with the First Baptist Church in that city.  This made sense; pastor John Clarke (1609-1676), of Newport, had rebaptized the members of the house church in 1649.

Rhode Island was rare in British North America; it had a policy of religious toleration.  First Baptist Church, Newport, was the second Baptist congregation in what became the United States of America.  John Clarke founded it in 1638, shortly after Roger Williams had founded the First Baptist Church, Providence.

John Clarke and John Crandall (1618-1676) of First Baptist Church, Newport, visited William Witten, an old blind man, in Lynn, Massachusetts Bay Colony, in July 1651.  Obadiah traveled with Clarke and Crandall to visit Witten.  The three visitors conducted a church service.  They celebrated communion and baptized converts.  Authorities arrested the three visitors.  The court convicted and fined them:

  1. John Crandall–five pounds, or about $984.15 (2021);
  2. John Clarke–twenty pounds, or about $3,939.37 (2021); and
  3. Obadiah Holmes–thirty pounds, or about $4,270.15 (2021).

The alternative was a severe whipping.  Nevertheless, Governor John Endecott considered that punishment lax; he claimed that the three men deserved to die.

Allies offered to pay the fines of all three men.  Crandall and Clarke accepted and returned to Newport.  Our saint, however, refused.  Therefore, he endured 30 strokes on his back.  For weeks, he had to sleep on his knees and elbows.  For the rest of his life, he called his scars “the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

Later in 1651, Clarke traveled to England, to serve as Rhode Island’s colonial agent.  Obadiah began to serve as pastor of First Baptist Church, Newport.  After Clarke returned, in 1664, the two men served as co-pastors (1664-1667, 1671-1676).  Our saint was pastor at Newport until he died, on October 15, 1682.

First Baptist Church, Newport, has become the United Baptist Church, John Clarke Memorial, Newport.

No freedoms are absolute in any society.  Mutuality requires that people be responsible to and for each other.  And it does not license trampling the rights of anyone.  Therefore, in the case of freedom of religion, some restrictions are necessary, in extreme cases.  When, for example, someone’s religion endangers public health, public health properly takes precedence.  Most circumstances are not extreme, though.  Living in a free society requires much mutual toleration, if not acceptance.  So be it.

All of the legal troubles Obadiah Holmes, Sr., endured in the Massachusetts Bay Colony were indefensible.  He was not endangering public health and safety.  He was not endangering anyone in any way.  No, he was defying a theocracy.  He refused to conform.

“Conform” and “conformity” are, by the way, the most profane words in the English language.  Mutuality embraces mutual responsibility and tolerates all dissent and individuality that does not endanger the common good.

I write in a politically divided society.  Labels such as “liberal” and “conservative” function as weapons to use against members of the other tribe.  Actually, many people who weaponize these terms strip these words of their real meanings, inherently relative to the center.  A better way (NOT original to me) is to ask whether one prioritizes order or justice.  Properly, of course, justice establishes a morally defensible order.  Likewise, order is necessary for justice, which cannot exist in the midst of anarchy.  Nevertheless, not all order is just.  In fact, much order is unjust.  And many people favor an unjust order over justice.  I favor justice every day.  Whenever a given order is unjust, I support tearing it down and replacing it with a just order.  Call me a revolutionary if you wish, O reader.

Obadiah Holmes, Sr., favored justice.  He worked for a just order.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 12, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; AND HIS NEPHEW, WILLIAM SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID URIBE-VELASCO, MEXICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1927

THE FEAST OF GODFREY DIEKMANN, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, PRIEST, ECUMENIST, THEOLOGIAN, AND LITURGICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIUS I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZENO OF VERONA, BISHOP

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O God, our light and salvation, who makes all free to worship you:

May we ever strive to be faithful to your call, following the example of Obadiah Holmes, Sr.,

that we may faithfully set our hands to the Gospel plow,

confident in the truth proclaimed by your Son Jesus Christ;

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, for ever and ever.  Amen.

–Adapted from A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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O God our light and salvation, we thank you for Obadiah Holmes, Sr.,

whose visions of the liberty of the soul illumined by the light of Christ

made him a brave prophet of religious tolerance in the American colonies;

and we pray that we may follow paths of holiness and good conscience,

guided by the radiance of Jesus Christ;

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Kings 17:1-16

Psalm 133

1 Peter 1:13-16

Luke 9:51-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 211

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Do As I Say, Not As I Do   Leave a comment

Above:  An Incriminating Photograph of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Printed in the Flagpole, Athens, Georgia, March 31, 2021

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Hypocrisy rankles, does it not?  This is especially applicable in the case of the recent voter suppression law in Georgia.  Supporters claim it is “common sense” and that it expands access to voting.  Yet the foundation of the law consists of discredited theories of a compromised voting system in the state last year.  Actually, many Republicans are just mad that Georgia is a purple state going blue, due to demographic changes.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Posted March 31, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Political Statements 2021

Tagged with ,

Sidney Powell, Organic Fertilizer, and Voter Suppression   Leave a comment

I do not pretend to know the difference between what organic fertilizer Donald Trump accepts and what organic fertilizer he merely spouts.  It is, however, all organic fertilizer, to use a G-rated term.  In the time of “alternative facts,” many members of the Republican Party (now the Donald Trump Death Cult of Personality) both accept and spew his organic fertilizer.  Some of the richest fertilizer concerns alleged and repeatedly debunked claims of election fraud in 2020.

Attorney Sidney Powell is a skilled practitioner of spewing such organic fertilizer.  One may remember her for infamously saying that Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela who died in 2013, was plotting in 2020 to compromise the U.S. presidential election.  Yes, Sidney Powell really needs to learn to the meaning of “fact check.”  Dominion Voting Systems knows all about her repeated and false claims about their voting machines.  They are, in fact suing her for defamation and at least $1.3 billion.  Powell’s defense, via her attorney, is that she was spewing organic fertilizer, and that any reasonable person would have known this.

The State of Georgia (my state) has made news (in a bad way) again.  (We keep doing this.)  The General Assembly has passed and Governor Brian Kemp has signed into law an election reform bill that suppresses voting and sits on the foundation of discredited claims of a previously compromised voting system.  According to the standards of Sidney Powell’s attorney, Governor Kemp and those who voted for this law are unreasonable people.

Objective reality is what it is.  Likewise, organic fertilizer is organic fertilizer.  I favor policy-making based on objective reality, not organic fertilizer.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Act Responsibly (Especially During a Pandemic)   Leave a comment

I HAVE NO SYMPATHY FOR FOOLS WHO ENDANGER THE LIVES OF OTHERS NEEDLESSLY.

One of the most counterproductive and socially irresponsible aspects of human psychology is the tendency to protect one’s ego at the expense of being objectively correct.  When admitting error may endanger one’s self-image, one may double down on the objectively false idea.  This tendency, reinforced the declining number of common media outlets, increases the number of opportunities for indulging confirmation bias.

I am glad to report that, so far, I have avoided contracting COVID-19.  I have worn masks in public.  I have been wearing two masks since the day I read that advice online.  I have received my first Pfizer vaccine.  I have been waiting for the scheduled date of my second shot to arrive.  

Many people make me angry during this pandemic.  Damn fools who defy the advice of public health experts and do not practice social distancing raise my ire.  Politicians who behave irresponsibly–by easing restrictions or not imposing them, in defiance of the best public health advice–are paving their roads to Hell, I am convinced.  People who mistake not wearing masks, at least not properly, for taking a principled stand on civil liberties endanger themselves and other people.  Those who, in the name of politics, refuse to take a crucial vaccine when it is available are competing for the Darwin Awards, too.  And those who, citing immoral medical experiments of the past, refuse to take a necessary vaccine when it is available are like generals fighting an earlier war and misapplying lessons from the previous war to the current one.

Whatever I do affects others.  Whatever you, O reader, do affects others.  Mutuality is a societal reality and a pillar of the Law of Moses.  Those who compete for the Darwin Awards act irresponsibly.  They endanger themselves, bearers of the image of God, needlessly.  They also put other people at risk needlessly.  In this case, acting for the common good entails wearing a mask or masks in public, maintaining social distancing, and getting vaccinated when possible, unless one has already become fully vaccinated.  Depending on circumstances, acting for the common good during this pandemic may entail other actions, too, of course.  

I am tired of this pandemic.  I do not enjoy wearing masks.  I dislike needles.  Yet I wear two masks in public.  Yet I, having gotten jabbed once already, have a scheduled date to get jabbed again.  This is not about what I want to do.  No, this is about what I have a moral imperative to do.

So, to those who insist on denying the reality of the virus and/or not wearing a mask or getting vaccinated, I ask:

What is your damage?

I ask the same question to politicians with the power to enact responsible policy yet choose not to do so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 31, 2021 COMMON ERA

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If the Bed Sheets Fit, Wear Them.   Leave a comment

SUPPRESSING THE VOTES OF MEMBERS OF MINORITIES

Efforts at voter suppression are underway in 45 of the 50 states in the United States.  Republican legislators are erecting a fortress against changing demographics.

Today, in my state, Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a bill that suppresses the votes of members of minorities who vote Democratic.  Kemp, experienced at voter suppression, has denied engaging in voter suppression.  He claims to have improved the security of elections, as well as public confidence in their results.

I have given the Voter-Suppressor-in-Chief of Georgia a piece of my mind.  Tonight, I sent his office an email.  I told Kemp to wear the bed sheets, if they fit.  I also said that going ahead and burning crosses would be consistent with what he has done so far.  Then I signed.  The Grand Dragon, Wizard, whatever, knows where I live and how to contact me.  So be it.

I stand by my words.  I say and write what I mean, and I mean what I say and write.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 25, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Feast of Sarah Mapps Douglass (September 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Painting of a Flower, by Sarah Mapps Douglass

Image in the Public Domain

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SARAH MAPPS DOUGLASS (SEPTEMBER 9, 1806-SEPTEMBER 8, 1882)

U.S. African-American Quaker Abolitionist, Writer, Painter, and Lecturer

Sarah Mapps Douglass comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Sarah Mapps Douglass, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 9, 1806, came from that city’s African-American elite.  Her family, active in the abolitionist movement, included her father (Robert Douglass, Sr., a baker), her mother (Grace Bustill Douglass, a teacher and a milliner), and her brother (Robert Douglass, Jr., an artist).  Our saint, well-educated, started teaching, in 1825, at a school her mother had helped to found.  Then Sarah taught at the Free African School for Girls.  After that, in 1837, she founded the African Institute, subsequently renamed the Institute for Colored Youth in 1852 and, eventually, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (the oldest Historically Black College or University in the United States).  Douglass had a professional connection to the African Institute/Institute for Colored Youth for most of the rest of her life.  She also insisted on the revolutionary idea that male and female students receive equal opportunity to study subjects previously off-limits to girls and young women.

Douglass, a financial supporter of and literary contributor to William Lloyd Garrison‘s The Liberator (founded in 1831), helped her mother to found the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833.  This biracial society, which included Lucretia Mott (1793-1880), was radical, by the standards of the time.  It advocated for the abolition of slavery as soon as possible and in such as way as to leave former slaveholders holding the proverbial bag.  The organization also supported boycotts of goods slaves had manufactured, distributed anti-slavery books and pamphlets, and opened a school for African-American children.  Our saint remained active in the society for years, too.

Douglass also helped to lead the Female Literary Association, founded in 1831.  This organization, for African-American women, both free and enslaved, challenged White racism and encouraged self-improvement via education.

Douglass became a pioneer of another sort.  She studied medicine, with a specialty in hygiene and gynecology, from 1853 to 1877.  She also matriculated as the first African-American student, at the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania.  Then she taught night classes to African-American women.

Douglass, a fine artist, was one of the first African-American painters, too.  She signed her work and challenged White racist assumptions in yet another way.

Our saint married in 1855.  Her husband, a widower with nine children, was the Reverend William Douglass, the Rector of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, Philadelphia.  He died in 1861.

Our saint faced racism within the church, too.  One day, at a Friends meeting house in New York City, a member asked her:

Does thee go out ahouse cleaning?

Sarah wrote to a friend and explained what she did next:

I wept through the whole of the meeting….

Sarah Mapps Douglass died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 8, 1882.  If she had lived one day longer, she would have turned seventy-six years old.

My parents raised me to believe in racial equality.  My father was a United Methodist minister in rural southern Georgia. U.S.A.  Many of his parishioners (in the 1980s through the early 2000s, especially) were openly and unapologetically racist.  Many of them used racial slurs openly and unapologetically.  Others used slightly less impolite language.  I recall that, one day in 1990 or 1991, in Alapaha, Georgia, I heard Henry, a neighbor and a fellow parishioner, say, “African-American engineering,” a paraphrase of a slur.  Church members, such as Henry, should have known better than to be racists and to use racist language.

Sarah Mapps Douglass lived prior to the coining of the word “intersectionality.”  Yet her life epitomized that word.  She dwelt at the intersection of being female and African American.  Our saint contended with sexism and racism.

Biases, such as sexism and racism, come in two varieties, by one method of categorizing them.  These varieties are conscious and unconscious.  The most difficult biases to recognize in oneself are the ones does not realize are biases.  One may mistake them for being objectively they way things are and perhaps mistake them for the way things ought to be.  One need not wear bed sheets or shave one’s head to function as a racist.  One can also be a racist without realizing one’s racism.  And, when one recognizes oneself as a racist, combating that form of bigotry in oneself can prove difficult.  Such is the hold social conditioning has on people.

Every society always needs revolutionaries such as Sarah Mapps Douglass at her time and location, to challenge moral blind spots in the collective norms and mores.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 20, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SEBASTIAN CASTELLIO, PROPHET OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

THE FEAST OF CHRISTOPHER WORDSWORTH, HYMN WRITER AND ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF ELLEN GATES STARR, U.S. EPISCOPALIAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND REFORMER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA JOSEFA SANCHO DE GUERRA, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SERVANTS OF JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL RODIGAST, GERMAN LUTHERAN ACADEMIC AND HYMN WRITER

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Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil

and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us [like your servant Sarah Mapps Douglass]

to use our freedom to bring justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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“Neanderthal Thinking” and “Reptilian Bastards”   Leave a comment

I vaguely recall a news story from decades ago.  Certain legislative Republicans were cutting the budget for Public Defenders.  One critic–an attorney–described these legislators as “reptilian bastards.”  He received criticism from offended Republicans.  I thought that the attorney had severely insulted reptiles of dubious parentage by comparing them to people who wanted to gut the budget for Public Defenders.

This week, the Governors of Texas and Mississippi announced that they were about to lift their states’ mask mandate.  President Biden described these decisions as “Neanderthal thinking.”  In so doing, he offended many Republicans and, no doubt, Creationists.  The objective reality of human evolution aside, “Neanderthal thinking” may have insulted Neanderthals by comparing them to the Governors of Texas and Mississippi.  

The President’s criticism is legitimate, though.  Human lives are at stake.  These governors have blood on their hands.  They will have more blood on their hands.  On this side of Heaven, may voters render their damning verdicts on them.  I would call these governors “reptilian bastards,” except for the risk of insulting lizards.

Regarding language, if this is about as intemperate as off-the-cuff presidential remarks get during the Biden years, I can live with that.  “Neanderthal thinking” is a far cry from inciting violence, stoking racism, and encouraging conspiracy theories.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2021 COMMON ERA

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