Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1990s’ Category

Feast of John Bright (September 26)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Scan from Volume III (1953) of The Interpreter’s Bible

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHN BRIGHT (SEPTEMBER 25, 1908-MARCH 26, 1995)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar

John Bright comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible.

Bright was a Presbyterian minister and a scholar of the Old Testament.  He, born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on September 25, 1908, grew up in the old (Southern) Presbyterian Church in the United States, founded as the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America in December 1861, renamed PCUS in December 1865, and merged into the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in June 1983.  He graduated from Presbyterian College, Clinton, South Carolina, with his B.A. in 1928, then from Union Theological Seminary (now Union Presbyterian Seminary), Richmond, Virginia, with his B.D. in 1931 and his Th.M. in 1933.  The title of Bright’s Th.M. thesis was “A Psychological Study of the Major Prophets.”  Our saint, ordained a Presbyterian minister, served in the pastoral capacity in just two congregations.  He was briefly the Assistant Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Durham, North Carolina, after he had to abandon the first round of doctoral studies (begun in 1935), for financial reasons.  Bright was a student of William Foxwell Albright (1891-1971) at The Johns Hopkins University.  Later, while Bright served as the pastor of Catonsville Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, Maryland, he completed his terminal degree in 1940.  The title of his dissertation was “The Age of King David:  A Study in the Institutional History of Israel.”

Bright’s academic career played out at one institution–his alma mater in Richmond, Virginia.  There, from 1940 to 1975, he was the Cyrus H. McCormick Chair of Hebrew and Old Testament Interpretation.  Our saint had a worldwide reputation as a fine scholar, educator, and preacher.  He was both a historian and a theologian.  For Bright these labels were mutually compatible.  He insisted that the faith of ancient Israel gave the Israelites their identity.  Bright’s core idea was that the history of ancient Israel is crucial to understanding God properly, and that God is vital to understanding the history of ancient Israel correctly.  Furthermore, our saint wrote that the Old Testament is not secondary to the New Testament, for the promise of salvation is present in both.

Bright’s published works included the following:

  1. The Kingdom of God:  The Biblical Concept and Its Meaning for the Church (1953), his first major work;
  2. The introduction to and the exegesis of the Book of Joshua, in Volume III (1953) of The Interpreter’s Bible;
  3. Early Israel in Recent History Writing:  A Study in Method (1956);
  4. A History of Israel (First Edition, 1959; Second Edition, 1972); Third Edition, 1981); a standard history textbook for theological students; now in its Fourth Edition (2000), with an appendix by William P. Brown;
  5. Jeremiah:  A Commentary (1965), for The Anchor Bible series from Yale University;
  6. The Authority of the Old Testament (1967); and
  7. Covenant and Promise:  The Prophetic Understanding of the Future in Pre-Exilic Israel (1976).

Bright, aged 88 years, died in Richmond, Virginia, on March 26, 1995.

His works are still available, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK J. MURPHY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCISCUS CH’OE KYONG-HWAN, KOREAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR, 1839; SAINTS LAWRENCE MARY JOSEPH IMBERT, PIERRE PHILIBERT MAUBANT, AND JACQUES HONORÉ CHASTÁN, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS, MISSIONARIES TO KOREA, AND MARTYRS, 1839; SAINT PAUL CHONG HASANG, KOREAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1839; AND SAINTS CECILIA YU SOSA AND JUNG HYE, KOREAN ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1839

THE FEAST OF KASPAR BIENEMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JOSIAH IRONS, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; AND HIS DAUGHTER, GENEVIEVE MARY IRONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC HYMN WRITER

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [John Bright and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Sarah Louise Delany, Annie Elizabeth Delany, and Hubert Thomas Delany (September 25)   Leave a comment

Above:  Sadie, Bessie, and Hubert Delany

Fair Use Images

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SARAH LOUISE “SADIE” DELANY (SEPTEMBER 19, 1889-JANUARY 25, 1999)

African-American Educator

sister of

ANNIE ELIZABETH “BESSIE” DELANY (SEPTEMBER 3, 1891-SEPTEMBER 25, 1995)

African-American Dentist

and their brother

HUBERT THOMAS DELANY (MAY 11, 1901-DECEMBER 28, 1990)

African-American Attorney, Judge, and Civil Rights Activist

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INTRODUCTION

The Episcopal Church has, in recent years, made the transition from having one calendar of saints (Lesser Feasts and Fasts, most recently revised in 2018; previously revised in 2006) to two calendars of saints, with the optional Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010) and its successor, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).  Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018, although expanded from Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006, still commemorates fewer saints than the optional books.  It also remains the official calendar of saints for the denomination.

The Episcopal Church usually permits a minimum of four decades to pass before it adds someone to either of its calendars of saints, for the Anglican position is that history makes saints.  The passage of time allows for perspective, which is what separates history from journalism.  The denomination does make a few exceptions to the “reasonable passage of time” guideline, however, as in the case of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., one of Hubert Thomas Delany‘s clients, added at the General Convention of 1988, two decades after the great civil rights leader’s assassination.  The Appendix to A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016) contains a list of people deemed worthy of remaining in the institutional church’s memory yet who have not met the “reasonable passage of time” rule yet.  That list includes the Delany sisters, noted for their lives devoted to public service.  I add their brother Hubert also, for the same rationale.  The three siblings belong on this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

The Delanys were a remarkable family.  Bishop Henry Beard Delany, Sr. (1858-1928)added to Holy Women, Holy Men at the General Convention of 2009, was a great man.  His wife, Nannette Logan James (1861-1956), was a great woman.  He, born a slave in St. Marys, Georgia, became an Episcopal priest and, in the last decade of his life, a bishop who ministered to African Americans in several southeastern states.  Both partners in the marriage were educators attached to St. Augustine’s College, Raleigh, North Carolina.  Nannette was the chief matron.  Henry was an administrator, a faculty member, the college chaplain, a college architect, and a musician, also.  The Delanys challenged Jim Crow in their society and institutional racism in The Episcopal Church.  Henry, in particular, was a threat to certain powerful, racist elements in the denomination.  The Delanys raised their ten children well.  Growing up in Raleigh at the time exposed the younger Delanys to Jim Crow laws and to news of lynchings.  Most of the Delany children grew up to make great contributions to society.  Their number included educators, musicians, a mortician, a jurist, and doctors of various specialties.

SADIE AND BESSIE (I)

Sarah Louise “Sadie” Delany (1889-1999) and Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany (1891-1995) were a pair.  Both of them studied at St. Augustine’s College to become teachers.  Sadie left for New York City first.  She arrived in 1916, and eventually graduated from the Teachers College of Columbia University.  Sadie became the first African-American woman allowed to teach high school home economics in New York City.  Bessie arrived in the “Big Apple” in 1918.  She, denied admission to the dental program at New York University because of her gender, matriculated at Columbia University instead.  Bessie, graduating in 1923, became the second African-American woman licensed to practice dentistry in the city.  She was, to many of her clients, “Dr. Bessie, Harlem’s colored woman dentist.”  For many years Bessie and brother Henry Beard Delany, Jr. (1895-1991) had a private practice.  They charged affordable fees and never turned anyone away.  The sisters never married, for, at the time, married women seldom had their own careers.  Meanwhile, they were part of the Harlem Renaissance scene.  Notable friends and associates included W. E. B. DuBois, Paul Robeson (one of Hubert’s clients), and Langston Hughes.  Sadie and Bessie shared an apartment in Manhattan until 1928, when their father, the bishop, died.  Then they and their mother moved into a house in the Bronx.  After Nannette died in 1956, Sadie and Bessie purchased a two-family house in Mount Vernon, New York.  Both sisters died in their sleep in that house many years later.

HUBERT

Hubert Thomas Delany (1901-1990) went into law.  He graduated from the City College of New York (Class of 1923) and the New York University School of Law (Class of 1926).  College jobs included working on a farm, working as a Pullman car porter, and teaching elementary school in Harlem.  Throughout his career Hubert championed the causes of unjustly marginalized members of society.  From 1926 to 1933 he was Assistant U.S. District Attorney for the Southern District of New York.  In 1926 Hubert married Clarissa Mae Scott (1901-1927), a poet who was part of the Harlem Renaissance.  She was also an educator, an essayist, and a social worker associated with the National Urban League.  She died of kidney disease in 1927, sadly.  The widower ran (as a Republican) for the vacant U.S. House seat representing Harlem in 1929; he won about 40% of the votes cast.  Hubert did, however, come to the attention of Fiorello La Guardia (1882-1947), Mayor of New York City from 1933 to 1945.  Mayor La Guardia appointed our saint to the Tax Commission.  In 1939 Hubert, as attorney of Marian Anderson, helped to arrange for her famous concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

In 1942 Hubert married Willietta S. Mickey (1907-2000), who had been his secretary when he had served on the Tax Commission.  Mayor La Guardia presided at the ceremony.  Willetta was also a mover and a shaker for good; she founded Adopt-A-Child, to help place minority children in adoptive families.  First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt supported this initiative publicly.

Hubert was a judge of the Family Court of New York City from 1942 to 1955.  He became a respected expert on juvenile issues, such as delinquency.  He, known as a fair judge, nevertheless incurred the wrath of reactionaries, who accused him of being too liberal, especially in the context of McCarthyism.  Hubert, outspoken in his support of civil rights, opposed loyalty oaths to the U.S. Government and defended the right of Socialists and Communists to be Socialists and Communists.  When our saint ceased to be a family court judge, politics was the reason.

Hubert was, by some standards, a radical, as he should have been.  He, for many year a member of the boards of the NAACP and its Legal Defense and Educational Fund, argued that the organization’s civil rights strategy was too conservative.  He also appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1956 and 1958 to represent people accused of being members of the Communist Party.  In 1963 Governor Nelson Rockefeller appointed our saint the chairman of the temporary State Commission on Low-Income Housing, informally the Delany Commission.  The commission proposed that the state subsidize low-income housing in middle-class neighborhoods.  The commission’s work led to the expansion of affordable housing in the State of New York.  Later in life Hubert also worked on issues related to the education of and health care for minorities.

Hubert, aged 89 years, died in New York on December 28, 1990.

SADIE AND BESSIE (II)

Sadie and Bessie outlived their siblings.  They joked that they lived as long as they did because they had no husbands to worry them to death.  Seriously, though, the sisters maintained healthy lifestyles, minimized stress, and retained their faculties.  Their book, Having Our Say:  The Delany Sisters’ First 100 years (1993), spent 28 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List.  The following year they published their second book, The Delany Sisters’ Book of Everyday Wisdom.  Bessie, aged 104 years, died on September 25, 1995.  She, having broken her hip the previous year, never recovered.  Sadie lived to the age of 109 years.  She died in her sleep on January 25, 1999.  During her final few years Sadie missed her sister, hence the book On My Own at 107:  Reflections on Life Without Bessie.

CONCLUSION

Sadie, Bessie, and Hubert Delany witnessed the world change profoundly.  They also acted to change that world for the bettter.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 11, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAPHNUTIUS THE GREAT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF UPPER THEBAID

THE FEAST OF ANNE HOULDITCH SHEPHERD, ANGLICAN NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHN STAINER AND WALTER GALPIN ALCOCK, ANGLICAN CHURCH ORGANISTS AND COMPOSERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PATIENS OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

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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 servants

Sarah Louise “Sadie” Delany, Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany, and Hubert Thomas Delany,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory of your Name,

through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Amos Niven Wilder (September 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Scan from Volume XII (1957) of The Interpreter’s Bible

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AMOS NIVEN WILDER (SEPTEMBER 18, 1895-MAY 4, 1993)

U.S. Congregationalist Minister, Poet, Literary Critic, and Biblical Scholar

Amos Niven Wilder comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible.

Wilder came from a remarkable family.  Amos Parker Wilder (1862-1936) was a journalist and sometime diplomat.  He was, until 1906, the editor and partial owner of the Wisconsin State Journal.  During the administrations of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson, he was U.S. Consul to China, based first in Hong Kong (1906-1909) then Shanghai (1909-1914).  Isabella Thornton Niven (1873-1946), daughter of a Presbyterian minister, was a poet.  She encouraged her children to love language, drama, and literature.  Those children were:

  1. Amos Niven Wilder, born in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 18, 1895;
  2. Thornton Wilder (1897-1975), playwright and novelist;
  3. Charlotte Wilder (1898-1980), poet;
  4. Isabel Wilder (1900-1995), novelist; and
  5. Janet Wilder (Dakin) (1910-1994), zoologist and conservationist.

Our saint combined Biblical scholarship and literary skill.  He matriculated at Oberlin College in 1913, but left to enlist in the U.S. Army in 1916.  Wilder, a corporal, drove ambulances in France and Macedonia.  He, discharged in 1919, studied at Yale University, from which he graduated with a B.A. the following year.  His first volume of poetry, Battle Prospect (1923), won the Yale Younger Prize.  Another volume of poetry, Arachne, followed five years later.  Wilder, as a literary critic, wrote The Spiritual Aspects of the New Poetry (1940).  The ministry beckoned to the young Wilder.  He, while studying at Mansfield College, Oxford, in 1921-1923, was the secretary to Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965).  After continuing theological studies at Yale in 1924, Wilder became a Congregationalist minister in 1926.  He was, for a few years, the pastor of First Church of Christ, Congregational, North Conway, New Hampshire.

Wilder was mainly an academic, though.  After teaching at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, he became Professor of the New Testament at Andover Newton Theological Seminary, Newton Centre, Massachusetts.  That was his professional position when he met Catharine Kerwin (December 3, 1906-September 1, 2006) during the summer of 1934 and married her in August 1935.  She came from a socially progressive family active in the suffragette movement.  In other words, Catharine and her relatives were the kind of people many would, in the cynical, regressive terms of 2018 that excuse social injustice and other perfidy, label “Social Justice Warriors.”  Catharine, active in the post-World War I peace movement, had earned her B.A. in history from Smith College and became a teacher.  The Wilders, married for nearly 58 years, had two children, Catharine Dix Wilder (b. 1937) and Amos Tappan Wilder (b. 1940).

Wilder, a Ph.D. from Yale since 1933, became Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Chicago Theological Seminary and The University of Chicago and a member of the Federated Theological Faculty of Chicago in 1943.  There he remained until 1954.  In 1949-1950 Wilder doubled as the President of the Chicago Society of Biblical Research.  Wilder spent 1954-1963 as the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University.  Then, at the age of 68 years, he retired.

Wilder wrote 35 books, published various articles, and contributed to The Interpreter’s Bible.  Theological works included Otherworldiness and the New Testament (1954) and Theopoetic:  Theology and the Religious Imagination (1976).  The posthumously published book was Armageddon Revisited (1994), a memoir of war.  He also served as a Consulting Editor of The Interpreter’s Bible, wrote the article “The Teaching of Jesus II:  The Sermon on the Mount” for Volume VII (1951), and wrote the introduction to and exegesis of the three Letters of John for Volume XII (1957).

Wilder, active in retirement, traveled around the world with Catharine.  He also continued to play tennis, which he had done since his college years.  Wilder was a nationally ranked tennis player.

Wilder, aged 97 years, died on May 4, 1993.

Catharine, aged 99 years, died on September 1, 2006.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Amos Niven Wilder and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Bernhard W. Anderson (September 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  Title Page of Out of the Depths (1970)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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BERNHARD WORD ANDERSON (SEPTEMBER 25, 1916-DECEMBER 26, 2007)

U.S. United Methodist Minister and Biblical Scholar

Bernhard “Barney” W. Anderson comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via the Biblical Studies of my library, including The Interpreter’s Bible.

Anderson, born in Dover, Missouri, on September 25, 1916, became an influential scholar.  His Australian-born father, Arthur Lincoln Anderson, was a Methodist minister.  Our saint’s mother was Grace Word.  According to her son, who dedicated Out of the Depths (1970), a book about the Psalms, to her, her

life on earth came to fulfillment in the years 1956-1966, when she served the church as a Director of Beulah Home in Oakland, California.

–x

(Beulah Home, extant 1912-1968, was a Methodist rest home for retired ministers, deaconesses, and missionaries.  It closed due to societal changes rendering it no longer feasible.)  Our saint, as a youth, learned to play the organ, so he could assist his father on Sundays.  Anderson attended the College (now University) of the Pacific, Stockton, California, majoring first in music, then in religion.  After graduating in 1936, he married classmate Joyce Griswold.  Next Anderson studied at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California.  He graduated in 1939.

Anderson, ordained in The Methodist Church (1939-1968) in 1939, and subsequently a minister in The United Methodist Church (1968-), served in congregations in Jamestown, Pittsburg, Sunnyvale, and Millbrae.  (Some sources I read used the term “United Methodist Church” anachronistically, having Anderson ordained in The United Methodist Church in 1939.)  During doctoral work at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (Ph.D., Old Testament studies, 1945), he was pastor to Congregational churches in Wauregan and Central Village, Connecticut, also.  The rest of his career was academic.

Anderson was an active academic for half a century.  He was, in order:

  1. Instructor, Department of Philosophy and Religion, Colgate University, Hamilton Township, New York (1946-1948);
  2. James A. Gray Associate Professor of Biblical Literature, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina (1948-1950);
  3. Joseph B. Hoyt Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Rochester, New York (1950-1954);
  4. Henry Anson, Professor of Biblical Theology, Drew University, Madison, New Jersey (1954-1968);
  5. Dean of the Theological School, Drew University (1954-1963), as the youngest Dean of that theological school;
  6. Annual Professor, American Professor, American School of Oriental Research, Jerusalem, Israel (1963-1964);
  7. Professor of Old Testament Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey (1969-1983); and
  8. Adjunct Professor of Old Testament Theology, Boston University School of Theology, Boston, Massachusetts (1984-1996).

Anderson also received honorary degrees, served as the President of the Society of Biblical Literature in 1980, and, after retiring from Princeton in 1983, led the American Theological Society in 1985.

Our saint also had an interest in Biblical archeology.  In 1956 he and G. Ernest Wright (1909-1974) started the Drew-McCormick Archaeological Expedition, to excavate the ancient city of Shechem.

Anderson, who was a humble man, contributed greatly to Biblical scholarship.  He, for example, wrote the introduction to and exegesis of the Book of Esther for Volume III (1954) of The Interpreter’s Bible.  (Episcopal Bishop Arthur Carl Lichtenberger wrote the exposition on the Book of Esther.)  Furthermore, Understanding the Old Testament (First Edition, 1957; Second Edition, 1966; Third Edition, 1975; Fourth Edition, 1986; Fifth Edition, 2006) became a standard textbook.

By the late 1980s the marriage to Joyce (still alive when our saint died) had ended, and he had married Monique Martin.  In 1989 the Andersons settled in the Santa Cruz, California, area, where they worshiped at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Capitola (now the Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist, Aptos).  Our saint, aged 91 years, died in Santa Cruz on December 26, 2007.

His written legacy remains, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 29, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE BEHEADING OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Bernhard W. Anderson and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Henri Nouwen (September 20)   Leave a comment

Above:  Icon of Henri Nouwen

Image in the Public Domain

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HENRI JOSZEF MACHIEL NOUWEN (JANUARY 24, 1932-SEPTEMBER 21, 1996)

Dutch Roman Catholic Priest and Spiritual Writer

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We have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God.

–Henri Nouwen

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Robert Ellsberg lists Henri Nouwen as the saint for September 20 in All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).  The date of September 20 works well for Nouwen on this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, for I reserve September 21 for St. Matthew the Apostle.

Much of contemporary spiritual writing has a reputation for shallowness.  This is fair because it is frequently accurate.  This generalization does not apply to the 39 books by Henri Nouwen, however.  I think in particular of The Way of the Heart, with its interpretation of the temptations of Jesus and application of those temptations to contemporary ministry.

Nouwen, born in Nijkerk, The Netherlands, on January 24, 1932, became one of the most influential and popular spiritual writers of the twentieth century.  He discerned his priestly vocation at an early age.  Our saint, ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Utrecht in 1957, studied psychology at the Catholic University of Nijmegan from 1957 to 1964.  Next he studied at the Menninger Clinic, in the United States, in 1964-1966, and became involved in the Civil Rights Movement.

Nouwen was an academic.  He taught at the University of Notre Dame (1966-1968), the Catholic Theological University of Utrecht (1968-1970), and Yale University School (1971-1981).  After spending six months in Bolivia and Peru in 1982-1983, our saint taught at Harvard Divinity School (1983-1985).  Nouwen was spiritually restless, seeking his proper place.  His moves from one teaching position to another indicated this restlessness.

Nouwen also experienced great stress.  He was, by all accounts, a priest who lived according to his wows, including celibacy.  He also had the needs for physical and emotional intimacy all people have.  Our saint struggled with those issues as well as his homosexuality, which he kept secret.  One biographer has suggested that Nouwen made peace with himself toward the end of his life.

Nouwen made a truly disturbing discovery about himself:  In the Parable of the Prodigal Son (perhaps not the best name for the parable, but the traditional one), he was most like the resentful older brother.  This was a spiritual condition he could change, and did address.

Nouwen spent 1986-1996 as the pastor at the Daybreak Community in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The community specialized in serving severely handicapped people.  In addition to his pastoral duties Nouwen was caregiver to Adam, a young man who could do nothing for himself–not even speak or feed himself.  In taking care of Adam our saint learned the meaning of being beloved by God.

Nouwen died of a heart attack on September 21, 1996, when he was in Hilversum, The Netherlands.  He was 64 years old.  He left a fine published legacy, which continues to benefit many people spiritually.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZACCHAEUS, PENITENT TAX COLLECTOR AND ROMAN COLLABORATOR

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Almighty God, you gave to your servant Henri Nouwen

special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus:

Grant that by this teaching we may know you,

the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent;

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

Proverbs 3:1-7

Psalm 119:89-96

1 Corinthians 3:5-11

Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 721

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Feast of Frederick J. Murphy (September 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts, Circa 1906

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a12944

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FREDERICK JAMES MURPHY (AUGUST 16, 1949-SEPTEMBER 13, 2011)

U.S. Roman Catholic Biblical Scholar

Also known as Rick Murphy

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Rick Murphy represented, perhaps better than anyone else on campus, what it means to teach, to do research, and to offer oneself wholeheartedly to a community such as ours. He was an internationally renowned and prolific scholar and a significant, if always unassuming, presence on campus. But what motivated him was our students and his desire to give them the many tools they will need to make their own marks on the world.

Students loved Rick, and their experience in his classrooms hints at what made him so special to all of us. Nothing was better than simply to hang out with Rick. He knew and loved politics, opera, classical and contemporary music, literature and history, theology. In his fifties he learned to pilot a plane, and in that same period he assembled, by himself, from the ground up, a computer that was years ahead of its time.

But more than all of this, everyone wanted to be around Rick because he had an endless supply of himself to give. I came to Holy Cross 40 years into my life and considerably more than a decade into my academic career. But I learned anew from Rick how to be a colleague, what it means to be a friend, and, in the past five years, I learned from him how a person can confront a devastating illness with such dignity and lack of self-pity as to truly astound.

So we learned from Rick, from his approach to life, from his words, from his ideas and ideals, from his books and articles, but more than anything from the way he lived-an unparalleled life of dignity and integrity that changed us all and that leaves a cherished, everlasting legacy.

–Dr. Alan Avery-Peck, Kraft-Hiatt Professor in Judaic Studies, College of the Holy Cross, 2011

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Professor Frederick J. Murphy comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via The New Interpreter’s Bible (12 volumes, 1994-2002).

Murphy, a graduate of St. John’s High School, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, became an internationally renowned scholar.  After graduating with his B.A. from Harvard University in 1971, Murphy joined the Society of Jesus.  During his seven years as a Jesuit, he taught high school, earned his B.D. from the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and worked with poor people in South America.  Our saint married his wife, Leslie, in 1980; the couple had a son (Jeremy) and a daughter (Rebecca).  Murphy returned to Harvard, where he earned his M.A. then, in 1984, his Ph.D.

Murphy’s academic community, to which he contributed much, was the College of the Holy Cross, a Jesuit institution in Worcester, Massachusetts.  From 1983 to 2011 our saint was Professor of Religious Studies, specializing in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, Second Temple Judaism, the Historical Jesus, and apocalypticism.  Murphy, the recipient of the Distinguished Teacher of the Year award in 2001, became the first Class of 1956 Professor in New Testament Studies in 2007.  He was a respected colleague and professor.  Like all excellent teachers, our saint taught not only the subject matter, but also intangible and no less valuable lessons.  Caitlin LoCascio-King, Class of 2006, wrote the following tribute:

I was shocked and saddened to read about the passing of Prof. Murphy in my Holy Cross email earlier today. A 2006 graduate, I was a religious studies major and a member of the Student Advisory Committee for the Religious Studies Department. More importantly for this email, my fourth year I had the pleasure of creating a one-on-one course with Prof. Murphy regarding the synoptic gospels. My first year, he taught the religious studies courses for the FYP program. His students all raved, and I was determined to meet this man and take a class. My third year I took Introduction to the Old Testament with him and quickly learned what they were talking about. Based on that experience, I set my mind to creating a seminar with him and ultimately he agreed to help me form one on the gospels.

Each week, he and I would meet in his office for a couple of hours and discussed various topics on the three gospels, their applicability to ancient times, modern times, the Old Testament, the New Testament and, inevitably, our own personal lives. That seminar was more reading and more work than almost any other class I took in my four years on the Hill, but it was one of my most memorable. He taught me how to think, how to write, how to hone a critical eye. But what he really taught me was self-confidence, a new understanding of my view on academics and that sacred book and the ability to really delve into anything I work on. I can say with confidence that Prof. Murphy knew more about the gospels than I will ever forget. But I certainly will never forget him.

Murphy wrote books and articles.  He contributed an article, “Introduction to Apocalyptic Literature,” to Volume VII (1996) of The New Interpreter’s Bible.  His books were:

  1. The Religious World of Jesus:  An Introduction to Second Temple Judaism (1991), winner of the Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award in the Humanities;
  2. Pseudo-Philo:  Rewriting the Bible (1993);
  3. Fallen is Babylon:  The Revelation to John (1998), for the New Testament in Context series;
  4. Breviary Lives of the Saints:  February-May:  Latin Selections with Commentary and a Vocabulary (2003);
  5. Breviary Lives of the Saints:  September-January:  Latin Selections with Commentary and a Vocabulary (2003);
  6. An Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels (2005);
  7. Early Judaism:  The Exile to the Time of Jesus (2006); and
  8. Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World:  A Comprehensive Introduction (2012), published posthumously.

Murphy died on September 13, 2011, after a long illness.  He was 62 years old.

One wonders how many more students Murphy would have helped and how much more he might have contributed to Biblical scholarship had he lived longer.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, JR., EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMNODIST; AND HIS NEPHEW, JOHN HENRY HOPKINS, III, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MUSICIAN

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH PAYSON PRENTISS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JEREMY TAYLOR, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF DOWN, CONNOR, AND DROMORE

THE FEAST OF JOHN BAJUS, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Frederick J. Murphy and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Beyers Naude (September 7)   Leave a comment

 

 

Above:  Flags of South Africa

Images in the Public Domain

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CHRISTIAN FREDERICK BEYERS NAUDÉ (MAY 10, 1915-SEPTEMBER 7, 2004)

South African Dutch Reformed Minister and Anti-Apartheid Activist

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Because of my experience, I’ve been able to tell other white Afrikaners, who despise me or have rejected me and feel that I’m a traitor to their cause, “I pity you, because I feel that you, in fact, have become the victims of your own imprisoned philosophy of life.  And therefore you cannot be free.  You cannot be free to love people of color deeply and sincerely.  You cannot be free to look at the future of South Africa outside the confines of your present political viewpoint.  You cannot be open to the concept of Christian community with Christians of all denominations around the world.  And therefore, as a result of those things that you have imposed on yourself, your vision is limited.”

–Beyers Naudé, interviewed for Sojourners magazine, 1987;  quoted in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, eds., Cloud of Witnesses, Revised Edition (2005), 152-153

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The Reverend Beyers Naudé comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Cloud of Witnesses (2005).

Of Orthodoxy and Heresy

What do we mean by orthodoxy and heresy?

Orthodoxy literally means “correct opinion.”  But who defines “correct”?  Ideally, all of us would recognize God as the definer of correctness and agree on the contents of orthodoxy.  Actually, though, competing orthodoxies exist within traditions, such as Christianity.  An orthodox Lutheran, for example, is a heretic by standards of an orthodox Calvinist or Roman Catholic or Methodist.  We who follow God or try to do so are attempting to read God’s mind partially.  Usually we adopt an institution’s definition of orthodoxy as the gold standard.  As I try to be a faithful Christian, I do not color outside the lines, so to speak.  I reject some strands of tradition and favor others, but I am generally fairly conventional, in the context of broader Christianity, but not the Bible  Belt of the United States.  I try, however, to be theologically humble, and to acknowledge that I am mistaken on certain points; I just do not know which ones.  I am therefore tolerant of a wide range of Christian orthodoxies, for I recall having changed my mind on major theological issues, such as, years ago, when I disposed of my Wesleyan-Arminian upbringing sufficiently to accept Single Predestination, an Anglican, Lutheran, and moderate Reformed doctrine.

“Heresy” comes from the Greek verb meaning “to choose.”  A heretic therefore a person who chooses what to believe, in opposition to orthodoxy, as at least one institution defines it.  The implication, therefore, is that the heretic chooses wrongly.

Understand me correctly, O reader; I am no postmodernist.  Orthodoxy and heresy are real, and we can know them partially.  I also affirm that, as much as each person is somebody’s schismatic, each person is also somebody’s heretic.

Beyers Naudé, raised a heretic, came to orthodoxy when he rejected the norms of his church, society, and nation-state.  Voltaire wrote that is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.  Our saint learned that lesson painfully.

Early Years

Damn you when everybody speaks well of you!  Recall that their ancestors treated the phony prophets the same way.

–Luke 6:26, Annotated Scholars Version (1992)

Christian Frederick Beyers Naudé, born in Roodeport, Transvaal, South Africa, on May 10, 1915, was a man baptized into a racist denomination. The Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, hereafter the DRCSA, taught that the Bible justified racism and racial segregation.  In 1948 Apartheid became the continuation of various laws and customs.  The DRCSA quoted the Bible to justify that execrable system.  The architects of Apartheid and its antecedents came from the Broederbond, an Afrikaner organization our saint’s father, the Reverend Jozua Naudé, a hero of the late Boer War, had helped to found.  Naudé the elder named his son, our saint, after Christian Frederick Beyers, a Boer general from that war, and a friend.  Our saint moved in influential, devout, and unapologetically racist circles; he was on track to rise to the office of Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.  His background, South African Dutch Calvinism, included not only a toxic stew of racism, imperialism, and ethnocentrism, but the sense that Afrikaners were part of God’s elect.  Afrikaners understood and embraced what Rudyard Kipling gleefully called “White Man’s Burden” in 1899, to celebrate the debut of the United States of America as an imperial power:

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Until the 1950s Naudé the younger did not question the orthodoxy–the conventional wisdom–concerning Apartheid.  He graduated from the University of Stellenbosch and became a minister in the DRCSA in 1939.  He married Ilse Weder, daughter of a Moravian missionary, in 1940.  Also in 1940, at the age of 25 years, he became the youngest person to join the Broederbond.  Naudé rose through the ranks of the DRCSA.

The Road to Damascus

Consider this:  Treat people in was you want them to treat you.  This sums up the whole Law and the Prophets.

–Matthew 7:12, Annotated Scholars Version (1992)

The conversion of Beyers Naudé was gradual.

That process began in 1953, when he was part of a DRCSA delegation studying youth work in Europe, the United States of America, and Canada.  Some of what he witnesses outside his home culture and country affected him to the point of sowing the seeds of doubt regarding the morality of Apartheid.

Later, when Naudé was the acting Moderator of the Transvaal Synod of the DRCSA, some of his ministers came to him with troubling questions.  Some white ministers were serving in Colored (to use the South African term) congregations.  Parishioners were confronting these ministers for supporting Apartheid.  Naudé’s subsequent visits to these congregations shook him as he witnessed the human toll of Apartheid.  Between 1955 and 1957 Naudé undertook a private study of the question of whether the Bible justified Apartheid; he concluded that scripture and Apartheid were opposed to each other.

The last straw for Naudé was the Sharpeville Massacre of May 21, 1960.  On that day agents of the national government shot and killed 69 peaceful, unarmed protesters, most of whom were running away when security forces shot them.  Naudé became an outspoken opponent of Apartheid.

Taking Up His Cross

Congratulations when people hate you, and when they ostracize and denounce you and scorn your name as evil, because of he son of Adam!  Rejoice on that day, and jump for joy!  Just remember, your compensation is great in heaven.  Recall that their ancestors treated the prophets the same way.

–Luke 6::22-23, Annotated Scholars Version (1992)

That was when trouble started for Naudé.  Yes, he continued in parish ministry until 1963 and became the Moderator of the Southern Transvaal Synod in 1961, but our saint was on a collision course with the DRCSA.  In 1963 Naudé became the Director of the Christian Institute of South Africa, an ecumenical and multiracial organization that challenged Apartheid and distributed humanitarian aid.  That year the DRCSA also gave our saint an ultimatum; he had to choose between the Christian Institute and his ministerial function in the denomination.  Naudé chose the former.  The title of his final sermon was “Obedience to God.”  Our saint was, for all intents and purposes, a defrocked man.

Naudé spent most of the next three decades in trouble with South African government.  Security forces raided the offices of the Christian Institute occasionally.  Our saint, allegedly a heretic, as well as a traitor to the Afrikaner cause, opposed violence as a method of political change.  That did not satisfy the hardline government, which, on one occasion, accused him of being a communist.  Naudé was not a communist, but he was a subversive, as he should have been.  He traveled in Europe, speaking against Apartheid and collecting honors.  In October 1977 the South African government banned our saint and the closed the Christian Institute.  Naudé, as a banned person, was under house arrest.  The law also forbade him from speaking to more than one person at a time.  Foreign honors continued.  In the early 1980s the government relaxed the ban somewhat, permitting Naudé to leave his house yet not the magisterial district of Johannesburg.  The ban ended in September 1984.

Naudé was a free man again.  In 1984 He succeeded Desmond Tutu (a man destined for addition to this Ecumenical Calendar eventually) as the General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches.  In the early 1990s our saint, without joining the African National Congress (ANC), was the only white member of the ANC team that negotiated with the national government as Apartheid collapsed.

Naudé, marginalized within the DRCSA, had made the emotionally difficult decision to leave it in 1980.  He transferred to the majority-Black Dutch Reformed Church in Africa (DRCA).  The DRCA, by the way merged with the (Colored) Dutch Reformed Mission Church (DRMC) in 1994 to form the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA).

The Hero

Well done, you competent and reliable slave!

–Matthew 25:23a, Annotated Scholars Version (1992)

Naudé, once a pariah, was a hero at the end of his life.  President Nelson Mandela was one of his friends.  Our saint lived long enough to witness his vindication.  He even lived long enough to witness the DRCSA denounce Apartheid and issue a formal apology for having affirmed the execrable institution.

Naudé lived to the age of 89 years.  He, surrounded by his wife and children, died at a retirement home in Johannesburg on September 7, 2004.

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I also composed the collect and chose the passages of scripture.

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Loving God of all nations, races, ethnicities, and cultures,

your command that we love our neighbors as we love ourselves

is as ancient as the Bible and as contemporary as the news.

That command continues to challenge us as we confront our own prejudices

and contend with those of people in power, as well as those around us.

Negative pressure to consent to injustice actively or passively is frequently intimidating.

We thank you for your faithful servant Beyers Naudé, whom you converted,

and who took up his cross and followed Jesus in South Africa,

thereby becoming an agent of transformation of his church, society, and nation-state.

May we follow the divine path of love in our circumstances,

and thereby radiate the light of Christ when and where we are,

regardless of the consequences to ourselves.

We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our crucified and risen Lord and Savior,

in the name of the Father, and in the name of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Amos 1:21-24

Psalm 27

James 1:22-25

Luke 6:20-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 6, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION

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