Archive for the ‘Saints of the 2010s’ Category

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 Duncan Montgomery Gray, Sr. and Jr. (July 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Episcopal Flag

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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DUNCAN MONTGOMERY GRAY, SR. (MAY 5, 1898-JUNE 27, 1966)

father of

DUNCAN MONTGOMERY GRAY, JR. (SEPTEMBER 21, 1926-JULY 15, 2016)

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Episcopal Bishops of Mississippi and Advocates for Civil Rights

Case Studies in the Radicalism of Liturgy

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I have sworn to practice and maintain segregation in the Episcopal Church in Mississippi, and I am not alone….It should be the painful duty of the Right Rev. Duncan M. Gray to publicly rebuke his son, and all other priests in the Diocese of Mississippi preaching integration….Let’s get red-hot on the subject–if the race-mixers don’t resign and leave, I say, throw them out bodily, if necessary.

–White supremacist and (from 1963) murderer Byron de la Beckwith (1920-2001), writing in the Jackson Daily News, 1956; quoted in Taylor Branch, Pillar of Fire:  America in the King Years, 1963-65 (New York:  Simon & Schuster, 1998), 113

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INTRODUCTION

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The Fifth, Seventh, and Ninth Bishops of Mississippi were Duncan Montgomery Gray–Senior, Junior, and III.  Duncan Montgomery Gray, III (Coadjutor, 2000-2003; diocesan, 2003-2015), has gone into retirement.  His grandfather and father have joined the Choir Eternal.  These three bishops’ progressive theologies and social consciences contradicted political and social norms in a state so reactionary that it operated the notorious State Sovereignty Commission (1956-1977) and, for a time, banned broadcasts of Sesame Street (1969-), due to the racially integrated cast.

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TWO DUNCANS

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Duncan Montgomery Gray, Sr., born on May 5, 1898, in Meridian, Mississippi, was an integrationist.  He, a deacon in 1925 and a priest the following year, served in Canton, Lexington, Columbus, Macon, and Greenwood before becoming the Bishop of Mississippi in 1943.  He, elected on January 19, 1943, served from May 12 of that year to June 27, 1966, when he died.

His eventual successor was a son, Duncan Montgomery Gray, Jr., born in Canton, Mississippi, on September 21, 1926, to Isabel McCrady Gray (1902-1966).  After graduating from high school in 1944, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.  The Navy sent Gray, Jr., to Tulane University, where, in 1948, he graduated with his Bachelor of Electronic Engineering degree.  Also in 1948, he married Ruth Spivey (d. 2011), of Canton; they had four children.  Gray, Jr., worked for the Westinghouse Corporation for a few years.  He did well there, but discerned a call to the priesthood.  After graduating from the School of Theology at the The University of the South in 1953 Gray, Jr., joined the ranks of priests; his father ordained him.  For the next 21 years Gray, Jr., served as a parish priest.  He was, for example, the Rector of St. Peter’s Church, Oxford, from 1957 to 1965, and for a time chaplain to Episcopal students at The University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”).

The apples did not fall far from the trees.  Fortunately, the Grays were good trees.  Bishop Gray, Sr., built up diocesan institutions, founding Rose Hill, the camp and conference center.  (Rose Hill has become the Duncan M. Gray Center.)  In 1954, after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Gray, Jr., with his father’s support, helped to prepare a diocesan report that condemned racism as sinful.  In 1959 Gray, Sr., made history by integrating St. Andrew’s School, Jackson.  This was the first voluntary school integration in the state.

The integration (1962) of The University of Mississippi was, by necessity, forced.  In September 1962, as violence erupted in Oxford, Gray, Jr., tried in vain to persuade segregationist protesters to choose nonviolence; some of them beat him instead.  On September 30 he reflected:

For these are times which not only try men’s souls, but also infect and poison them.  The seeds of anger and hatred, bitterness and prejudice, are already widely sown, and as Christians, we need to do our utmost to uproot and cast them out.

That work of reconciliation defined the ministry of Gray, Jr.  As the Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Meridian (1965-1974), he helped to rebuild African-American churches Klansmen had firebombed.  Gray, Jr., also served on several civil rights boards, such as the Mississippi Council on Human Relations (1963-1967) and the Mississippi Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1967-1973).

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BISHOP GRAY, JR.

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When 1974 dawned Gray, Jr., was the Vice President of the Executive Committee and the Chairman of the Commission on Ministry of the Diocese of Mississippi.  Before the year ended he was the Bishop of Mississippi.  For 19 years Gray, Jr., shepherded the diocese faithfully.  He also supported the revision of The Book of Common Prayer and the ordination of women as priests and bishops.  Will Campbell (1924-2013), the bishop’s biographer, explained our saint’s support for civil rights and other forms of social justice by citing “the radicalism of liturgy.”  Gray, Jr., from 1991 to 1997 the Chancellor of The University of the South, retired as Bishop of Mississippi in 1993.  Later he served as the Interim Dean of the School of Theology.

Gray, Jr., aged 89 years, on July 15, 2016, in Jackson, Mississippi.

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CONCLUSION

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I have little doubt that, in time, The Episcopal Church will add one or both of these bishops to its calendar of saints.  The institutional church must take its time; I respect that.  However, I need to take no more time than I have taken already.  I, having previously created a stand-alone Feast of Duncan Montgomery Gray, Sr., years ago, then having scrapped it recently as part of the renovation of this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, transfer that feast to July 15 and add his now-deceased son to it.

I also wish Bishop Duncan Montgomery Gray, III, longevity and excellent health as I announce my (hopefully long-term) plans to add him to this commemoration one day.

On a personal note, I have long taken the naming of cats, noble creatures, seriously.  One of the cats who enriched my life for a few years was a gray tabby with some Maine Coon contributions to his DNA.  This pacific vehicle of grace bore the name Duncan Gray, named in honor of the three Bishops Gray.  Never have I given a feline a more honorable and noble name.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF MALTBIE DAVENPORT BABCOCK, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATOR AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT STANISLAW KUBSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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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 Duncan Montgomery Gray, Sr., and Duncan Montgomery Gray, Jr.,

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 Gerald and Betty Ford (July 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford at the Republican National Convention, 1976

Photographer = John T. Bledsoe

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-08487

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GERALD RUDOLPH FORD, JR. (JULY 14, 1913-DECEMBER 26, 2006)

President of the United States of America and Agent of National Healing

husband of

ELIZABETH ANN BLOOMER WARREN FORD (APRIL 8, 1918-JULY 8, 2011)

First Lady of the United States of America and Advocate for Social Justice

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The long national nightmare is over.  Our Constitution works.

–President Gerald Ford, August 9, 1974

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INTRODUCTION

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With this post I merge two feasts.  Doing so is consistent with one of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  That goal is to emphasize relationships and influences.

The Fords were decent people who did much to leave the United States of America better than they found the country.  They were what the U.S.A. needed immediately after the presidency of Richard Nixon.

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GERALD, NÉ LESLIE

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Leslie Lynch King, Jr., entered the world at Omaha, Nebraska, on July 14, 1913, as his parents’ marriage was crumbling.  When Leslie, Jr., was two weeks old his mother and father separated; they divorced before the end of the calendar year.  Dorothy Ayer Gardner King and her young son moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to be close to her parents.  On February 1, 1916, Dorothy married paint salesman Gerald R. Ford.  Leslie, Jr., informally Gerald, Jr., for a long time, legally became Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr., on December 3, 1935.  In the meantime he had worked in the paint store, become an Eagle Scout, and been a fine student and athlete in public schools then at the University of Michigan (1931-1935).

Ford rejected opportunities to become a professional football player, opting instead to coach boxing and varsity football.  His busy work schedule delayed his admission to Yale Law School until 1938.  While at Yale Ford found time to work on the presidential campaign of Republican nominee Wendell Willkie in 1940.  Our saint, who graduated from Yale Law School in 1941, practiced law in Grand Rapids, where he also taught business law and worked as a football line coach at the University of Michigan.

Ford served in the military during World War II.  In April 1942 he became an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve.  After teaching physical fitness at the pre-flight school in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Ford transferred to the U.S.S. Monterey in 1943.  He served in the Pacific Theater and nearly died.  Lieutenant Commander Ford received an Honorable Discharge in February 1946.

Ford returned to Grand Rapids, where he resumed the practice of law.  Politics beckoned, however.  So did love.

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GERALD AND BETTY

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Elizabeth Ann Bloomer, born at Chicago, Illinois, on April 8, 1918, was also contributing to society.  She grew up in Grand Rapids, where her father, Stephenson Bloomer, had died when she was 16 years old.  Betty graduated from high school, taught dancing to children, worked with troubled children, studied dancing under Martha Graham, and worked as a fashion consultant in a department store.  Betty also married William C. Warren, an insurance agent, in 1942.  Unfortunately, he was also an alcoholic and a cruel man.  That marriage ended in divorce in 1947.

Gerald and Betty married at Grace Episcopal Church, Grand Rapids, in 1948.  They remained husband and wife until Gerald’s death in 2006.  The couple had four children from 1950 to 1957.

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CONGRESSMAN FORD

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Isolationism in foreign policy was a Republican tradition, one Senators Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., and Robert A. Taft practiced.  There was also an internationalist wing of the Republican Party, however.  In 1948 the U.S. Representative for the district containing Grand Rapids was Bartel Jonkman, an isolationist Republican.  Ford, whom World War II had transformed into an internationalist, successfully challenged Jonkman and won the general election in the fall.

Ford, whose ambition was to become the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, remained in the U.S. House until December 1973–for a total of twenty-four years, eleven months, and three days.  He, a member of the Appropriations Committee for most of that time, was a much-respected and well-liked member of that chamber.  Ford described himself as

a moderate in domestic affairs, an internationalist in foreign affairs, and a conservative in fiscal policy.

Perhaps Ford went overboard with his fiscal conservatism.  (A good idea, taken too far, becomes a bad idea.)  One biographer, looking back on Ford’s presidency, described him as the kind of man who would help a poor child individually then veto a school lunch bill.  Nevertheless, Ford was always a decent, compassionate man.  Our saint, who served on the Warren Commission, became the Minority Leader in 1965, opposed much of the domestic program of the Johnson Administration, and was skeptical of President Lyndon Baines Johnson‘s military escalation in Vietnam.

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VICE PRESIDENT FORD

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In October 1973 Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, guilty of illegal perfidy, resigned as part of a deal with Attorney General Elliot Richardson.  Meanwhile, the Watergate scandal, of President Richard Nixon‘s creation, was rapidly consuming his administration.  Nixon, under the terms of Amendment XXV (1967) of the Constitution, nominated the respected and popular Ford to fill the vacancy Agnew had created.  Many of those in Congress who voted to confirm Ford as Vice President knew they were also selecting the next President of the United States.

Ford was Vice President of the United States from December 6, 1973, to August 9, 1974–nine months and three days.  At first Ford was skeptical of the allegations against Nixon, his old friend.  Yet, as evidence piled high, Ford became skeptical of Nixon then turned against him.  On August 6, 1974, at a Cabinet meeting, Nixon said he would not resign, despite the certainty of imminent impeachment in the House of Representatives and the long odds of avoiding conviction and removal from office in the trial in the Senate.  After that meeting Ford told Nixon,

I can no longer defend you.

Two days later, when Nixon, for his own reasons, announced his resignation, he regretted having appointed Ford to the Vice Presidency.

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PRESIDENT FORD

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On the morning of August 9, 1974, Nixon said farewell to the White House staff and left Washington, D.C.  If he had not resigned, his fate would have been conviction and removal from office in the Senate trial; the margin would have exceeded the Constitutional minimum of two-thirds.  At Noon, at the White House, Chief Justice Warren Burger administered the oath of office to Ford.

Ford was the President of the United States from August 9, 1974, to January 20, 1977–two years, four months, and eleven days.  Perhaps he was in an impossible predicament, given the widespread distrust of the presidency and of Washington officialdom due to the combination of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.  Two successive Presidents from different parties had self-destructed politically.  Both had lied to the public.  One had committed criminal acts.  Meanwhile, a Vice President had also committed criminal deeds and had to resign.  The country needed a decent, honest man as the President of the United States more than ever.

Ford and his appointed Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller, were Republicans of a sort that was becoming endangered; they were fighting an uphill battle against the more conservative Goldwater wing of the party.  (For that matter, Senator Barry Goldwater, a libertarian, Western Republican, found himself outflanked by social conservatives in the party during the Reagan Administration (1981-1989).  Some of his libertarian views made him too liberal for certain social conservatives in the mold of the Moral Majority.)  Ford was too liberal for many Republicans and too conservative for many Democrats.  He, with the help of Rockefeller, survived a challenge by Reagan for the Republican presidential nomination in 1976.  At the end of the year Ford narrowly lost the general election to the Democratic nominee, Jimmy Carter, the former Governor of Georgia.  Ford and Carter actually had much in common, in terms of policies.

Ford, as President, struggled with major global issues that affected other world leaders also.  During the Ford Administration South Vietnam collapsed faster than even North Vietnamese generals expected.  Ford was instrumental in the admission of 130,000 South Vietnamese refugees into the United States.  They and their descendants have contributed to American society.  Financial troubles, such as those related to inflation and energy crises, also occurred before and after the Ford Administration and affected the world, from Australia to England.  The Helsinki Accords (1975), which attracted criticism from both Reagan and Carter, proved to be historically important, for they held the Soviet Bloc accountable for violations of human rights.

There was also consistency with the Carter Administration.  Carter, for example, took Ford’s negotiations regarding the Panama Canal to the treaty stage.  Carter also made human rights an emphasis in foreign policy.  Carter Administration diplomacy in the Middle East, culminating in the Camp David Accords (1979), built on diplomacy from the Nixon and Ford Administrations.  Also, Nixon and Ford had done much for diplomacy with the Peoples’ Republic of China.  The Carter Administration opened full diplomatic relations with that country.  Furthermore, Ford had issued an amnesty for Vietnam War-era military deserters and draft dodgers; Carter issued a pardon.

Ford’s pardon of Nixon (September 8, 1974) ensured defeat in the election of 1976.  Ford insisted that the pardon, which carried with its acceptance an admission of guilt, was in the best interests of the country–to help with the healing process.  Vindication of this position came in 2001, when he won the Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

In December 2006, shortly after Ford’s death, biographer Lou Cannon, speaking on National Public Radio, said that our saint

had a practical mind and a noble heart.

Ford applied both of those during his years of public service.  The Nixon Administration had been an imperial presidency.  Ford, in contrast, was an unpretentious, humble man known for his innate decency.

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FIRST LADY

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Betty Ford was controversial.  She, a feminist, supported the Equal Rights Amendment, a position her husband shared.  Unfortunately, that proposed amendment failed to become part of the Constitution.  Betty also held a libertarian (pro-choice) position on abortion and a non-libertarian position on gun control.  Two of her greatest contributions to the country as First Lady pertained to the cancer and mental illness, both of which came with stigmas attached at the time.  (There is still a stigma attached to mental illness.)  Betty shared her diagnosis of breast cancer.  She, like Rosalynn Carter, the next First Lady, spoke out in favor of psychiatric treatment and discouraged stigma related to it.  May we recall that, in 1972, Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern had to drop his first running mate, Senator Thomas Eagleton, from the ticket because Eagleton had once undergone psychiatric treatment.  Furthermore, with regard to cancer, the stigma related to varieties of cancer was a topic in medical dramas of the 1970s.

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AFTER THE WHITE HOUSE YEARS

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The Fords left the White House on the morning of January 20, 1977.  Gerald, nearly Reagan’s running mate in 1980, had not become wealthy in elected and appointed offices.  As a former President of the United States he made real money, giving speeches, writing books, and sitting on corporate boards.  He and Betty also befriended the Carters after the Carter Administration ended.  Ford had both agreed with and criticized Carter from 1976 to 1981, but they found much common ground during the 1981 flight to Egypt, to attend the funeral of Anwar el-Sadat, the assassinated President of Egypt.

Betty, as a former First Lady, continued to help others.  She admitted her alcoholism and entered a treatment program.  Then, in 1982, she founded the Betty Ford Center at Rancho Mirage, California.

Today we know that addiction is a matter of altered brain chemistry.  It is not merely a matter of bad morality and a weak will.  Science argues against old attitudes and stigma in this case.  Nevertheless, old attitudes that disregard the scientific evidence (such as brain scans) persist, so stigmas remain.

Former President Ford remained an honorable man to the end.  He, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999, was a class act.  He advised Bill Clinton to confess during the Lewinsky scandal.  Clinton sought the counsel then declined to heed it, at least when Ford offered it.  In 2001 Ford announced his support for marriage equality for homosexuals, thereby arguing against homophobia.  A few years later he quietly opposed the Second Iraq War during the George W. Bush Administration.  The Republican Party moved past Ford.

The former President died at Rancho Mirage, California, on December 26, 2006.  He was 93 years old.

Betty, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991, lived until the age of 93 years also.  She died at Rancho Mirage on July 8, 2011.

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CONCLUSION

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Mere decency and political civility are virtues that seem to be in short supply in the United States of America in 2018.  The examples of Gerald and Betty Ford remind one of a contentious time when those virtues were more plentiful.  One might legitimately disagree with one or both of them on certain policy issues, but one should acknowledge their great decency and respect their service to the country.  One should join with Jimmy Carter, who at the inauguration in 1977, thanked Gerald Ford for doing much to heal the country.  The wound of Watergate have never healed; they have run that deeply.  The shadow of Watergate, as Bob Woodward has called it, has fallen across all Presidents after Nixon.  The wounds of Watergate have proven too deep for any President or combination of Presidents to heal completely, one should admit.  Yet one should also acknowledge that Ford did his part honestly, humbly, and honorable.

One should also give all due credit to Betty Ford, especially for calling on people to put away harmful stigmas.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 9, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS STEFAN AND KAZIMIERZ GRELEWSKI, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS,  1941 AND 1942

THE FEAST OF DIETRICH BUXTEHUDE, LUTHERAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY DAY AND PETER LAURIN, COFOUNDERS OF THE CATHOLIC WORKER MOVEMENT

THE FEAST OF THOMAS TOKE LYNCH, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servants Gerald and Betty Ford,

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 the Martyrs of the Sudan (May 16)   Leave a comment

Above:  Map Showing Sudan and South Sudan

Image Source = The World Fact Book, Central Intelligence Agency

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The Episcopal Church added this feast to its calendar at the General Convention of 2009.

The political history of the Sudan has been difficult since independence from the British Empire in 1956.  The vast country with a diverse population was majority Muslim in the north and majority Christian in the south.  Civil War fueled by a number of factors, including authoritarianism and religion, led to the deaths of more than 2,000,000 people from 1983 to 2005.  The conflict also displaced as many as 4,000,000 Christians within the country and made more than another million refugees in neighboring countries.  South Sudan seceded in 2011.  It has not found stability for a set of reasons including its underdeveloped economy (despite its oil wealth) and the civil war of 2013-2015, which formed 2,200,000 people to relocate.

Anglican work in the Sudan started in 1889.  Until 1974 Anglican churches were part of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East.  Jurisdiction passed to the Archbishop of Canterbury until 1976, when the Episcopal Church of the Sudan formed.  That province of the Anglican Communion divided in 2017, creating the Episcopal Church of Sudan (in the north) and the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, consistent with the Anglican practice of having national churches.  The new Anglican provinces in the Sudan and South Sudan are actively engaged in the work of peacemaking and of witnessing to Christ in difficult circumstances.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HENRY CLAY SHUTTLEWORTH, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DANIEL C. ROBERTS, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by your providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church:

As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death,

and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ;

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

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9

Psalm 116:10-17

Hebrews 10:32-39

Matthew 24:9-14

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 371

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Feast of Miep Gies (January 11)   Leave a comment

Presentatie boek "Herinneringen aan Anne Frank" van Miep Gies in het Anne Frankhuis in Amsterdam; Miep Gies  *5 mei 1987

Presentatie boek “Herinneringen aan Anne Frank” van Miep Gies in het Anne Frankhuis in Amsterdam; Miep Gies
*5 mei 1987

Above:  Miep Gies, 1987

Image Source = Nationaal Archief

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MIEP GIES (FEBRUARY 15, 1909-JANUARY 11, 2010)

Righteous Gentile

I refer you, O reader, to this biography of Miep Gies.

My reflection on the legacy of Miep Gies is simple yet challenging:  Would I have been in her place?  I like to think that I would have done so, but I do not really know.  Perhaps the only way to know for sure is to in the position to have to make a decision in the matter.  The call of the Gospel entails loving one’s neighbor as one loves oneself, with the understanding that this might be dangerous–even deadly.

Grace is free at all times yet never cheap.  No, it makes demands upon the lives of those who accept it.  “Take up your cross and follow Jesus,” grace tells us.

Miep Gies was fortunate enough to live long enough to survive the Third Reich.  Many other rescuers were less fortunate, become martyrs.  She took that risk, however.

For what cause would I be willing to risk martyrdom?  For what cause would you, O reader, be willing to risk martyrdom?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN AMOS COMENIUS, FATHER OF MODERN EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF THE CONSECRATION OF SAMUEL SEABURY, FIRST EPISCOPAL BISHOP

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM ROMANIS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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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), page 736

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Feast of Philip and Daniel Berrigan (December 7)   Leave a comment

philip-berrigan

Above:  Icon of Philip Berrigan

Image in the Public Domain

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PHILIP FRANCIS BERRIGAN (OCTOBER 5, 1923-DECEMBER 6, 2002)

Roman Catholic Priest and Social Activist

brother of

DANIEL JOSEPH BERRIGAN (MAY 9, 1921-APRIL 30, 2016)

Roman Catholic Priest and Social Activist

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When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,

And hear their death-knell ringing,

When friends rejoice both far and near,

How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile,

Our thoughts to them are winging;

When friends by shame are undefiled,

How can I keep from singing?

–Doris Plenn, 1950s

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Thus He will judge among the nations

And arbitrate for the many peoples,

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares

And their spears into pruning hooks:

Nation shall not take up

Sword against nation;

They shall never again know war.

–Isaiah 2:4, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

–Matthew 5:9, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

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Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal.  But the word of God is not fettered.

–2 Timothy 2:8-9, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

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Blessed are you, when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

–Matthew 5:11-12, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

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Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

–Luke 6:26, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

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The Bible is replete with stories of prophets who spoke truth to power.  One reads in that sacred anthology that some of these prophets suffered imprisonment and/or death.  Those accounts are ancient and, due to the passage of so much time, generally non-controversial, at least in the circles in which I move.  More contemporary figures, such as the Berrigan brothers, remain controversial, however.  Although I do not agree with them entirely, I admire them and deplore the harsh treatment of them by authorities.  I also respect the faith that compelled them to take up their crosses, follow Christ, and suffer for the sake of righteousness.

The Berrigan brothers’ lives, being as intertwined as they were, require writing of them in one post.  Their lives stand as testimonies for peace and social justice.  For their evil disobedience they spent years in federal prisons–eleven years for Philip and more than seven years for Daniel.  Sometimes they engaged in civil disobedience together.  They also found themselves on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most-wanted list.

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The Berrigans were a devout Roman Catholic family living in the vicinity of Duluth, Minnesota, in the early 1920s.  Freida Fromhart Berrigan and Thomas Berrigan raised six children–five sons and one daughter.  Thomas, a trade unionist, was a railroad engineer who raised his family on a farm.  Daniel debuted at Virginia, Minnesota, on May 9, 1921.  Philip entered the world at Two Harbors, Minnesota, on October 5, 1923.  The family moved to New York in 1926 after Thomas lost his job.  At Syracuse he, who hailed from the left wing of Roman Catholicism, founded the Electrical Workers Union and a Roman Catholic interracial council.

Daniel was a longtime Jesuit, for he joined the order immediately after graduating from high school in 1939.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from St. Andrew-on-the-Hudson, Hyde Park, in 1946.  From 1946 to 1949 Daniel taught at St. Peter’s Preparatory School, Jersey City, New Jersey.  He received his M.A. degree from Woodstock College, Baltimore, Maryland, in 1952, the same year he became a priest.  From 1954 to 1957 Daniel taught theology at LeMoyne College, Syracuse, New York.  In 1957 he won the Lamont Prize for Time Without Number, a volume of poetry.  From 1966 to 1970 Daniel served as the Assistant Director of University United Religious Work, an umbrella organization of campus chaplaincies at Cornell University.  He also served as the pastor of the Newman Club there.  Daniel also had professional roles at Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York; Loyola University of the South, New Orleans, Louisiana; Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; and Fordham University, New York, New York.

Philip entered the Society of St. Joseph (the Josephite Fathers) instead.  After graduating from high school at Syracuse he cleaned trains for the New York Central Railroad, played semi-professional baseball, and studied for a semester at St. Michael’s College, Toronto, Ontario.  Then the U.S. Army drafted him in 1943.  Philip’s proximity to institutional racism in the U.S. Army (especially during basic training in Georgia) and what he learned about the lives of sharecroppers disturbed him.  Combat also affected Philip deeply; he had his fill of violence and killing.  After the war Philip attended and graduated from the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts.  In 1950 he joined the Josephite Fathers, an order dedicated to working with African Americans.  Philip also graduated from St. Joseph’s Seminary, Washington, D.C., becoming a priest in 1955.  He graduated from Loyola University of the South with a degree in secondary education in 1957 and from Xavier University with a Master’s degree three years later.  Then Philip became a teacher.

Both brothers were active in the civil rights movement.  They participated in sit-ins, marches (such as at Selma, Alabama, in 1965), and bus boycotts.  Philip, in particular, identified with the urban poor.  For civil disobedience he went to prison for the first time in 1962-1963.  Philip ministered to other inmates while there.  Nevertheless, his activism earned him the disapproval of his superiors in the Roman Catholic Church.

The Berrigan brothers also protested the Vietnam War.  In 1964, at New York City, they founded the Catholic Peace Fellowship.  Later, at Baltimore, Philip founded the Baltimore Interfaith Peace Fellowship.  On October 27, 1967, he was one of the Baltimore Four, two Roman Catholics and two Protestants.  They poured their own blood on draft records.  Philip, out of jail on bail prior to sentencing for that act, recruited Daniel to join him and to become part of the Cantonsville Nine.  On May 17, 1968, at Cantonsville, Maryland, they doused draft records in homemade napalm and burned them.  All involved received prison sentences, delayed by an appeals period of sixteen months.  After the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the appeals, Daniel and Philip went into hiding.  F.B.I. agents caught up with Philip after twelve days.  Daniel remained holed up in the block house of William Stringfellow (1928-1985), an Episcopalian, social activist, and lay theologian, for four months.  The prison terms expired in 1972.

While in prison Philip secretly married Elizabeth McAlister, a nun and one of the Cantonsville Nine, in 1969.  He was also among those charged with plotting to kidnap Henry Kissinger and to bomb steam tunnels.  The trial (1972) ended in an acquittal.  The marriage of Philip and Elizabeth became public in 1973.  Then Pope Paul VI excommunicated him.  The couple had three children.  Philip and Elizabeth continued their antiwar activism.  In 1973, at Baltimore, they founded Jonah House, to support war resisters.

In 1980 the Berrigan brothers founded the anti-nuclear war and weapons Plowshares Movement.  On September 9, 1980, the Plowshares Eight, who included both brothers, trespassed at the General Electric nuclear missile facility at King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.  There they damaged cones of Mark 12A missiles and poured blood on documents and files.  The Plowshares Eight, convicted the following year, appealed their sentences until 1990, when a judge reduced them to time served and 23 months of probation.

At his trial in 1981 Daniel said, in part:

Our act is all I have to say.  The only message I have to the world is this:  We are not allowed to kill innocent people.  We are not allowed to be complicit in murder.  We are not allowed to be silent while preparations for mass murder proceed in our name, with our money, secretly.

I have nothing else to say in the world.  At other times one could talk about family life and divorce and birth control and abortion and many other questions.  But this Mark 12A is here.  And it renders all other questions null and void.  Nothing, nothing can be settled until this is settled.  Or this will settle us, once and for all.

It’s terrible for me to live in a time where I have nothing to say to human beings except, “Stop killing.”  There are other beautiful things that I would love to be saying to people.  There are other projects I could be very useful at.  And I can’t do them.  I cannot.

Because everything is endangered.  Everything is up for grabs.  Ours is a kind of primitive situation, even though we would call ourselves sophisticated.  Our plight is very primitive from a Christian point of view.  We are back where we started.  Thou shalt not kill:  we are not allowed to kill.  Everything today comes down to that–everything.

–Quoted in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, editors, Cloud of Witnesses, Revised Edition (2005), page 230

Philip’s final prison sentence resulted from his participation in the hammering of A-10 Warthog war planes at Warfield Air National Guard Base, Middle River, Maryland, in December 1999.  He was in prison until December 2001.  He died a year later, on December 6, 2002, at Baltimore.  He was 79 years old.

In his later years Daniel continued in the good fight.  He opposed U.S. wars and military interventions in Central America, Iraq (both times), Kosovo, and Afghanistan.  He also tended to AIDS patients and spoke out against abortion and capital punishment and supported the Occupy Movement and equal rights for homosexuals.  Daniel died in New York City on April 30, 2016.  He was 94 years old.

The witness of the lives of the Berrigan brothers teaches us to love one another, especially when doing so is dangerous to oneself.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK PRATT GREEN, BRITISH METHODIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF BARTHOLOMEW ZOUBERBUHLER ANGLICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF CYRIACUS SCHNEEGASS, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, MUSICIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF EMILY HUNTINGTON MILLER, U.S. METHODIST AUTHOR AND HYMN WRITER

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

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

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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Feast of Jack Layton (August 22)   3 comments

Jack Layton Button

Above:  A Campaign Button

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN GILBERT LAYTON (JULY 18, 1950-AUGUST 22, 2011)

Canadian Activist and Federal Leader of the New Democratic Party

The process of researching this post entailed, among other activities, watching certain videos at YouTube.  In one of them Ezra Levant, a Canadian pundit, mocked adulation of the recently deceased Jack Layton.  Levant, who had mourned Layton’s passing just a few days before, showed a faux icon of Layton and derived attempts to depict him as a saint.

With this post I declare Layton to be a saint.

Jack Layton came from a family with a history of service to Canada and vulnerable people.  His great-great uncle on his mother’s side was William Henry Steeves (1814-1873), a Father of Confederation, a member of the Senate (1867-1873) as a Liberal, and an advocate for the humane treatment of the mentally ill.  Our saint, on his father’s side, was a great-grandson of Philip E. Layton, a blind organist who advocated for disability benefits and founded the Montreal Association for the Blind and the Philip E. Layton School for the Blind, Montreal, in 1908.  Philip was the father of Gilbert Layton (1899-1961), a conservative Member of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec and cabinet minister in the provincial government in the late 1930s.  Gilbert was the father of Robert Layton (1925-2002), a Liberal Party activist who switched to the Progressive Conservative Party and served as a Member of Parliament from 1984 to 1993, as the Minister of State for Mines from 1984 to 1986, and as the Party Caucus Chair from 1986 to 1993.  He retired from politics in 1993 to focus on his recovery from prostate cancer.  Robert had married Doris Elizabeth Steeves.  Their firstborn son was John Gilbert Layton, born at Montreal, Quebec, on July 18, 1950.

Layton, who graduated with his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from McGill University, Montreal, 1970, embarked upon an academic career and a political vocation.  In 1971 he graduated from York University with his Master of Arts in Political Science.  He became a professor at Ryerson University then at York University, and completed his doctoral program at York University in 1983.  He, married to Sally Halford from 1969 to 1983, became an activist and councilman in Toronto in the 1980s, continuing the good work into the early 2000s.  He was especially passionate with regard to homelessness (favoring public housing as an alternative to incarceration), an issue he addressed locally and on which he wrote two books.  Layton also worked proactively on issues such as HIV/AIDS, recycling, renewable energy, and violence against women.  In 1988 he married Olivia Chow (b. 1957), who served as a councilwoman in Toronto from 1991 to 2005 and as a Member of Parliament from 2006 to 2015.

Layton grew up in The United Church of Canada and acted upon socially progressive Christianity.  Among his heroes was Tommy Douglas (1904-1986), Baptist minister and federal leader of the New Democratic Party.  Our saint, a member of the Bloor Street United Church, Toronto, also attended services at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, whose minister was his friend.  Layton, who had run for Parliament in 1993 and 1997, became the federal leader of the New Democratic Party in 2003 and finally won a seat in 2004.  He led his party, increased its number of seats, and retained his seat in the elections of 2006, 2008, and 2011.  In the House of Commons he opposed the war in Iraq, favored peacekeeping and reconstruction (as opposed to combat) in Afghanistan, and favored a plan to cap interest rates on credit card debt.  He also read scripture at the annual National Prayer Breakfast and taught a Bible study class for youth at Wynan United Church, Hudson, Quebec, in which he had grown up.

In 2011 the New Democratic Party, with Layton as leader, won 103 seats in the House of Commons and became the official opposition for the only time so far in Canadian electoral history.  (The Liberal Party, which came in third place in 2011, won a majority in the election of 2015.  The Conservative Party, which had formed minority governments in 2006 and 2008 before winning a majority in 2011, became the largest opposition party.   The New Democratic Party returned to its usual status as the party in third place.)  In May 2011 Layton became the Leader of the Official Opposition.  During the campaign he had used a cane, due to his recent hip surgery.  That cane, his smile, and his enthusiasm had become his trademarks.  The future seemed bright for Layton and his party.

In 2010 Layton had announced his diagnosis of prostate cancer.  He had sought and obtained treatment for it.  He had been vigorous during the federal campaign of 2011.  There had been no outward indication of disease as of election day 2011.  On July 25, 2011, however, Layton, looking and sounding seriously ill, announced that he had another cancer and that he was stepping down temporarily as party leader.  On August 20 he issued his farewell letter, which concluded with these words:

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton

Layton died at home in Toronto on August 22, 2011.  He was 61 years old.  The outpouring of grief came from across the political spectrum.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FLORAN OF LORCH, MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT GODEHARD OF HILDESHEIM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND BISHOP

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

peace to the troubled,

and rest to the weary,

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

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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