Archive for the ‘Saints of the 2000s’ Category

Feast of John Tavener (November 12)   2 comments

Above:  Flag of England

Image in the Public Domain

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SIR JOHN KENNETH TAVENER (JANUARY 28, 1944-NOVEMBER 12, 2013)

English Presbyterian then Orthodox Composer

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Suffering is a kind of ecstasy in a way.  Having pain all the time makes me grateful for every moment I’ve got.

–Sir John Tavener

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John Tavener composed beautiful music that still enriches the lives of many people.

Tavener, born in Wembley, England, on January 28, 1944, grew up a Presbyterian and studied music from an early age.  His father was an organist at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Frognal, Hampstead.  Our saint studied music and began to compose at Highgate School, London, where he also sang in the choir at classical concerts.  Tavener became a fine pianist.  He began to study at the Royal Academy of Music in 1962.  There our saint decided to focus on composition.  Tavener also served as the organist and choirmaster at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Kensington, from 1961 to 1975.

Tavener was a prominent composer, starting in 1968.  That year he debuted a cantata, The Whale, based on the Book of Jonah.  He composed A Celtic Requiem the following year.  Tavener, who began to teach at the Trinity College of Music, London, in 1971, composed an opera, Thérèse (1973), about St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and a chamber opera, A Gentle Spirit (1977).

Tavener was no stranger to health problems and spiritual crises.  His brief marriage to dancer Victoria Maragopoulou in 1974 haunted him.  Health problems included a stroke in 1979, Marfan Syndrome (diagnosed in 1990), and a heart attack in 2007.  Tavener was acutely aware of his mortality.  In 1977 he converted to Russian Orthodoxy, the faith he practiced for the rest of his life.

The Russian Orthodox Church and literary works were the primary influences in Tavener’s music, starting in 1977.  Major compositions included The Lamb (1982; a setting of a poem by William Blake), Ikon of Light (1984), The Protecting Veil (1989), We Shall See Him as He Is (1990), Song for Athene (1993), Eternity’s Sunrise (1997), and Prayer of the Heart (2000; for Icelandic singer Bjork).  When Tavener began to set texts from non-Christian traditions to music, many people suspected he had become an apostate.  Tavener, who remained an Orthodox Christian, was expanding his artistic range.

Tavener, knighted in 2000, died in Child Okeford, England, on November 12, 2013.  He was 69 years old.  Maryanne Schaeffer (his wife since 1991) and three children survived him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 27, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF NICHOLAS FERRAR, ANGLICAN DEACON AND FOUNDER OF LITTLE GIDDING; GEORGE HERBERT, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND METAPHYSICAL POET; AND ALL SAINTLY PARISH PRIESTS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANNE LINE AND ROGER FILCOCK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT GABRIEL POSSENTI, PENITENT

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUIS DE LEON, SPANISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

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Eternal God, light of the world and creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring John Tavener and all those

who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 728

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Feast of Rosa Parks (October 24)   2 comments

Above:  Rosa Parks, December 1, 1955

Image in the Public Domain

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ROSA LOUISE MCCAULEY PARKS (FEBRUARY 4, 1913-OCTOBER 24, 2005)

African-American Civil Rights Activist

In this post I refer you, O reader, to a biography of the great Rosa Parks, as well as to Sarah Vowell’s audio essay about the general folly of comparing oneself or another person to Parks.  Now I offer my thoughts about our saint.

Perhaps the first volume to list Parks as a saint was G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), published about a year after her death.  I had written her name on a list for addition to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days before I ordered that book, one of the recent additions to my library.

Parks, a lifelong member of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church and a deaconess within that denomination, spent most of her 92 years working for social justice, one the greatest legacies of the A.M.E. Church, a great contributor to the struggle for civil rights in the United States of America since 1816.  Long after Parks famously broke the law in Montgomery, by refusing to give up her bus seat for a white man, advocating for Black Power and working for the release of prisoners–political ones and those incarcerated for acts of self-defensive violence.  Her faith was of the variety that understood that Christianity is about liberation–of individuals and societies.  Her faith compelled her to work for goals that seemed impossible yet morally imperative.  She was faithful in these efforts.

May we work for justice wherever and whenever we are, whoever we are.  The legacy of Rosa Parks challenges us to imagine what society would be if the Golden Rule were the norm, and violations of it were socially unacceptable.  That legacy also challenges us to work to make society more like the ideal, and not to give up in apathy or despair.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 15, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BENSON POLLOCK, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRY FOTHERGILL CHORLEY, ENGLISH NOVELIST, PLAYWRIGHT, AND LITERARY AND MUSIC CRITIC

THE FEAST OF JOHN HORDEN, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF MOOSENEE

THE FEAST OF RALPH WARDLAW, SCOTTISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight;

through Jesus Christ our Judge and Redeemer, who lives and reigns

with you and the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

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Feast of Claus Westermann (October 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  My Copy of Isaiah 40-66:  A Commentary (1969), October 10, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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CLAUS WESTERMANN (OCTOBER 7, 1909-JUNE 11, 2000)

German Lutheran Minister and Biblical Scholar

Claus Westermann comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via the Biblical Studies section of my library, which his volume, Isaiah 40-66 (1969), graces.

Westermann, born in Berlin, Germany, on October 7, 1909, was a son of Diedrich and Katharina Westermann, formerly missionaries to Africa.  Our saint’s father had become a professor of African languages in Berlin by 1909.

Westermann became one of the major Old Testament scholars of the twentieth century.  He, educated at the Universities of Tübingen and Marburg, served as pastor of a church in Berlin-Dahlem prior to World War II.  Our saint, drafted into the German Army in 1940, served in Russia.  He resumed advanced studies after the war.  Westermann graduated from the University of Zurich with his doctorate in 1949; his dissertation was, “The Praise of God in the Psalms.”  Our saint, from 1949 to 1952 the pastor of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Berlin, began to teach full-time in 1953.  He joined the faculty of the University of Heidelberg in 1958.  Our saint retired 20 years later.  The student of Gerhard von Rad (1901-1971) wrote more than 70 published works.

Consider Isaiah 40-66 (1969), O reader.

Westermann, who accepted that there were three Isaiahs, acknowledged internal disagreements within chapters, as in Chapter 66.  He identified discrepancies within 66:18-24:  verses 18, 19, and 21 indicating a mission to the nations, and verses 20 and 22-24 emphasizing the primacy of worship in Jerusalem.  The second section amended the first, our saint wrote.  The presence of the two traditions, Westermann insisted,

made terribly clear that in the post-exilic period what people had to say about the way in which God was going to act upon Israel and upon the other nations lost all unanimity and took two different roads.

–Page 429

Westermann continued:

In the light of the New Testament our only course is to agree with the first, the one which proclaims the great missionary move out to the nations.  This means, then, that we must be critical of vv. 20, 22ff.  But over and above this, an Old Testament critic is bound to say that a theology which ordains one place of eternal annihilation for all God’s enemies along with the perpetuation of a worship restricted to one place is alien to the central core of the Old Testament.  Here, in the interests of rendering absolute a worship that is tied to a place and in the counterpart which the verses give this, the avowal of God’s action in history and towards the people who are travelling onwards, the avowal of very foundation, is abandoned.

–Page 429

Thus ended that commentary.

Westermann, aged 90 years, died in Heidelberg on the Day of Pentecost, June 11, 2000.  His wife, Anna, had predeceased him in 1991.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN NITSCHMANN, SR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; DAVID NITSCHMANN, JR., THE SYNDIC, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, THE MARTYR, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN LUDWIG BRAU, NORWEGIAN MORAVIAN TEACHER AND POET

THE FEAST OF EDWARD BENSON WHITE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF LOUIS FITZGERALD BENSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Claus Westermann 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 the Martyrs of Melanesia, 1864-2003 (September 27)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map of New Zealand and Melanesia, 1958

Image Scanned and Cropped from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1958)

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INTRODUCTION

The Feast of the Martyrs of Melanesia comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.  This feast overlaps with two other commemorations from various provinces of the Anglican Communion–that of John Coleridge Patteson and His Companions (September 20) and that of the Martyrs of the Melanesian Brotherhood (April 24).

1864-1871

The first Anglican martyrs in Melanesia were Frederick Lorenzo Fisher Young (usually known as Fisher Young) and Edwin Nobbs, who died in 1864.  Young and Nobbs were descendants of H.M.S. Bounty mutineers; Young was a great-great-grandson of Fletcher Christian (1792-1842).  Young, born on January 27, 1846, was a native of Pitcairn Island.  Nobbs was a son of an Anglican priest stationed on Norfolk Island, the headquarters of the Melanesian Mission.  In 1864 Young, Nobbs, and Bishop John Coleridge Patteson were on Santa Cruz Island when natives shot them with arrows.  Young and Nobbs contracted tetanus and lockjaw.  Young died on August 24, after having forgiven his assailants.

I have already written about the martyrdoms of Joseph Atkin, Stephen Taroniara, and Bishop Patteson in 1871.

1904-1926

Others came to wear the crown of martyrdom, also.

  1. Arthur Ako died in his garden in 1904.  In 1898 he and fifteen converts from Fiji founded a Christian village at Kwara’ae, Fiu.  Within two years, with the addition of non-Fijian Christians, the village’s population had increased to about 100.  Hostile neighbors harassed the villagers.  The village remained after Ako’s murder and became the center of the spread of the faith in the area.
  2. James Ivo, a teacher from Nggela, died (by shooting) at Ngorefou in 1906.
  3. James Sili, falsely accused of sorcery, was standing on the veranda of the mission-house when someone fatally shot him in 1910.
  4. Charles Christopher Godden, born in Violet Town, Victoria, Australia, in 1876, was a poet, as well as the first Australian missionary to die in Melanesia.  He, ordained to the Anglican diaconate in 1899 and the priesthood the following year, was briefly the Curate of St. Michael’s Church, Surry Hills.  He volunteered for missionary work.  On September 3, 1900, Godden left for Norfolk Island, headquarters of the Melanesian Mission.  He arrived in Omba, New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) in April 1901.  There Godden supervised the construction of a church building and some schools.  On December 12, 1905, while on leave in Sydney, Australia, he married Eva Dearin (d. 1964).  They returned to Omba the following April.  On October 16, 1906, an angry, vengeful Melanesian man, released from an Australian prison after serving his sentence for attempted murder, killed Godden, who had never done anything to him, but was of European ancestry.  Our saint’s murderer was angry at people of European ancestry, due to his incarceration.  Eva gave birth to a daughter, Ruth, in July 1907.
  5. Ben Teilo, from Matema, was the first native Reef Islander ordained to the Anglican priesthood, in 1919.  He met his martyrdom via an axe attack in 1926.

2003

1998-2003 was a time of crisis in the Solomon Islands.  Two rival militias, the Isatubu Freedom Movement and the Malaitan Eagle Force, fought over competition between ethnic groups for land and jobs.  Government instability ensued, the economy suffered, and natural disasters made bad manners worse.  Military forces from Australia and New Zealand helped to stabilize the situation and end the crisis by the end of 2003, three years after the signing of the peace treaty.

Nathaniel Sado was a novice in the Melanesian Brotherhood.  He, in charge of the piggery, liked the pigs very much and fed them sweet potatoes he had picked from his garden then cooked.  Sado and animals got along well; he was one of the few novices the donkey liked.  Our saint, a native of the volcanic island of Savo, enjoyed taking expatriates to the hot springs there.  Sado, who was naïve, had befriended Harold Keke, notorious leader of the Isatubu Freedom Movement, and a man responsible for the murder of two priests, one of them a Member of Parliament in 2002.  Sado thought he really knew Keke; he was terribly mistaken.  Sado, accused of being a government spy, sang hymns as guerrillas beat him death at Easter (April 20) 2003.

Six Melanesian Brothers went to ask for Sado’s corpse.  They paid with their lives on or about April 23, 2003.

  1. Robin Lindsay was the Assistant Head Brother.  He, a longterm member of the Melanesian Brotherhood, was, according to the Father Richard Carter, a chaplain to the Brotherhood, “the encourager,” and a man who had a gift for helping people build on their strengths.
  2. Francis Tofi worked for peace in the strife-torn Solomon Islands.  He organized an effort, in conjugation with police, to sink all the ammunition, explosives, and high-powered weapons they could find into the sea, beyond reach.  Tofi, an expert in peaceful conflict resolution and an advocate for disarmament, fearlessly spoke out against Keke.  Tofi had received an offer from the World Council of Churches to accept a place at the Bossey Institute in Geneva and to assist with a course on conflict resolution.  He, according to his own words, had no fear of dying for the sake of peace and in the service of God.
  3. Alfred Hilly, stationed for two years at a the Chester Resthouse in Honiara, was the epitome of hospitality, teaching an abandoned child to read, tending to visiting children, and reading blood slides at the local malaria clinic.
  4. Ini Partabatu was an actor and a courageous opponent of injustice.  He acted in dramas about development and health issues.  Partabatu also condemned brutal police tactics that disrespected the rights of the accused.
  5. Patteson Gatu, admitted to the Melanesian Brotherhood in October 2002, was usually quick to smile.  His sense of humor, combined with his faith, made him an agent of grace.
  6. Tony Sirihi, having lost his father at an early age, found a family in the Melanesian Brotherhood.  He grew into a bold Brother, a courageous man, and a good friend who participated in the process of disarmament.

In March 2005 Harold Keke and two former guerrillas received life sentences for the murder of Father Augustine Geve, M.P., in 2002.

CONCLUSION

These are sobering stories that remind one of the command of Jesus to take up one’s cross and follow him.  Some follow Christ all the way to their own Golgotha.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PETER OF CHELCIC, BOHEMIAN HUSSITE REFORMER; AND GREGORY THE PATRIARCH, FOUNDER OF THE MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF GODFREY THRING, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JANE CREWDSON, ENGLISH QUAKER POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NARAYAN SESHADRI OF JALNI, INDIAN PRESBYTERIAN EVANGELIST AND “APOSTLE TO THE MANGS”

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Creator God, whose majesty is in the storms as well as in the calm,

we thank you for those of every race who gave their lives in Melanesia for the sake of Christ;

may we your church always proclaim your gospel, live your commandments,

and overcome the powers of darkness; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.  Amen.

or

God, you call us, your missionaries, to carry our lives in our hands;

we praise you for many servants in Melanesia whose lives

were taken by those for whom they would gladly have given them.  Amen.

Isaiah 26:1-4

Psalm 97 or 149

Colossians 1:9-14

John 12:20-26

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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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 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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