Archive for the ‘Alex Haley’ Tag

Feast of Samuel Simon Schmucker (February 29)   Leave a comment

Above:  Samuel Simon Schmucker

Image in the Public Domain

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SAMUEL SIMON SCHMUCKER (FEBRUARY 28, 1799-JULY 26, 1873)

U.S. Lutheran Minister, Theologian, and Social Reformer

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

I recall, while growing up as a good United Methodist boy in rural southern Georgia, hearing people say,

There are Baptists then there are Baptists.

That principle applies to Lutherans, too; degrees of Lutheran confessionalism exist.  If one, for example, labels The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, despite its strong confessionalism and social and theological conservatism, as being too liberal, one has a selection of Lutheran denominations from which to select a church home.

Samuel Simon Schumucker changed throughout his life; he was human, after all.  Lutheranism within the United States of America also changed during his lifetime.  Schmucker effected much of that change, but other change made him, once a prominent leader, an increasingly marginal figure in many quarters.  Yet Schmucker’s legacy has remained relevant within and beyond Lutheranism in North America.

Schmucker came from a devout and large Lutheran family.  He, born in Hagerstown, Maryland, entered the world on February 28, 1779.  Our saint’s mother was Elizabeth Catherine Gross (1771-1820).  His father was the Reverend John George Schmucker (1771-1854), the President of the German Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States (the Ministerium of Pennsylvania, for short) in 1820 and 1821.  Our saint was one of the best-educated young Lutheran ministers in the United States.  He had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton Theological Seminary.  In 1820, when young Schmucker was preparing to assume pastoral duties in New Market, Virginia, he and his father helped to found the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the United States of America (the General Synod, in short).  The General Synod was the first national confederation of Lutheran synods in the United States.  Schmucker, who grew quickly into a leader of the General Synod, attended every convention through 1870.  At its founding, the General Synod encompassed almost all of the U.S. Lutheran Synods and the vast majority of U.S. Lutherans.  Within a few years, however, doctrinal disputes reduced the membership of the General Synod; the Ministerium of Pennsylvania defected in 1823.  (Then it rejoined in 1853 and departed again in 1867.)  Proposed union with the German Reformed Church caused another controversy in 1830.  Our saint saved the General Synod in 1823 and 1830.  Although some synods left the General Synod, others formed and affiliated with it over the years.

The General Synod was too liberal for many Lutherans in the United States in the 1800s.  This was especially ironic in the 1820s.  Our saint was relatively conservative; he advocated for an increased prominence of the Augsburg Confession (1530) in U.S. Lutheranism.  He also sought to purge all traces of Deism from U.S. Lutheranism.  Schmucker, like many Christians of his time, held an overly strict position on “worldly amusements;” the following entertainments (a few of them actually sinful), among others, were forbidden:

  1. Playing games of chance,
  2. Playing checkers,
  3. Playing chess,
  4. Casting dice,
  5. Playing cards,
  6. Listening to opera,
  7. Attending vocal performances in concert halls,
  8. Using tobacco,
  9. Consuming liquor, and
  10. Wearing fashionable clothing.

If Schmucker was too liberal, what was the standard of conservatism?  Perhaps his position that intellectual rigor was no threat to Christianity marked him as a liberal and an alleged heretic.  As time passed, so did his abolitionism, opposition to the U.S.-Mexican War (1846-1848), and acceptance of Evolution.

Schmucker and his father recognized the need for a Lutheran seminary in the United States.  They helped to found Gettysburg Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in.  Schmucker, Sr., served as a trustee.  Our saint served on the faculty and as the President for nearly four decades.  The seminary gave rise to another institution, Pennsylvania College (now Gettysburg College) in 1832.

Schmucker wrote a textbook, Elements of Popular Theology, with Special Reference to the Doctrines of the Reformation, as Avowed Before the Diet at Augsburg, in MDXXX (1834).  This volume indicated our saint’s concept of orthodox Christianity.  He defined orthodox Christianity according to a common creedal core, which he defined as

fundamental doctrines of Scripture,

while eschewing overly specific creeds and allowing for disagreement in secondary matters.  Parts of some creeds were optional, Schmucker argued.  Orthodox Christianity, according to our saint, was Protestant yet did not include all Protestants.  Roman Catholics, Unitarians, Campbellites, Baptists, and Deists were not orthodox Christians, according to Schmucker.

Schmucker’s critics, starting in the 1830s, in particular, found more and more theological ammunition to use against him.  The General Synod permitted much theological latitude.  Our saint’s Eucharistic and Baptismal theology was closer to that of Calvinism than to that of Lutheranism.  (He did graduate from a Presbyterian seminary.)  He, influenced by the Second Great Awakening, was also a revivalist, to a point.  Puritanism and Pietism were prominent in his theology.  (Pietism had been part of a segment of Lutheran theology for some time by the 1800s.)  Schmucker’s “American Lutheranism” made him open to ecumenical relations with non-Lutherans he defined as orthodox.

This became evident by 1838, when Schmucker proposed church union–confederation, really–on what he called

the apostolic basis.

This plan offered six points of union:

  1. Variety in liturgy, polity, and discipline;
  2. Toleration of theological diversity within the ecclesiastical confederation;
  3. A common creed;
  4. Full communion and open communion within the ecumenical confederation;
  5. Cooperation in matters pertaining to “the common cause of Christianity;” and
  6. The Bible as the main textbook for religious and theological instruction.

Schmucker manifested other evidence of his liberalism as he aged and the General Synod became increasingly confessional and conservative, yet never sufficiently conservative, according to many U.S. Lutherans.  In 1855 our saint worked on the proposed American Rescension of the Augsburg Confession.  The controversial proposal, which most synods of the General Synod refused to accept, deleted the condemnations of non-Lutheran groups, removed mentions of baptismal regeneration, denied Consubstantiation, and argued that the Augsburg Confession (1530) contained errors.

Schmucker was also a liturgist.  He, as the head of the General Synod’s Committee on Liturgy of 1866, in lieu of the Liturgy of 1856.  The Provisional Liturgy of 1866 influenced the Washington Service (1876), which, in turn, presaged the Common Service (1888).  The Liturgy of 1856 was noteworthy for reintroducing The Apostles’ Creed (complete with “the holy Catholic Church”) to corporate worship.  A greater influence on the Common Service was the Reverend Beale Melanchton Schmucker (1827-1888), the more conservative, formalistic, and confessional son of our saint.  Beale, whose liturgical sensibilities were evident in the Ministerium of Pennsylvania’s Liturgy for Use in the Evangelical Lutheran Church (1860) and the General Council’s Church Book for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (1868), was one of the greatest experts on liturgy and liturgical development.  He was, according to accounts, a walking encyclopedia on the subjects.  He was one of the main reasons the General Council had a stronger liturgical  tradition than the General Synod.

Schmucker lived long enough to witness the General Synod divide twice.  The General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Confederate States of America organized in 1863.  This organization became the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America in 1866 then the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the South in 1876.  Ten years later, with the addition of the Tennessee Synod, the Southern General Synod became the United Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the South.  The General Synod (1820) suffered another schism in 1867, when the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America came into existence.  The merger that created The United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA) in 1918 repaired the schisms of 1863 and 1867.  The General Synod (1820) moved to the right as the General Council moved to the left.  The two confederations moved toward each other.

Schmucker married three times and outlived his first two wives.  He married Eleanora Geiger (1799-1823) in 1821.  Wife number two was Mary Catharine Steenbergen (1808-1848).  Our saint’s third wife was Heisther (Esther), who died in 1882.  Schmucker fathered at least four children.

Schmucker, aged 84 years, died in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 26, 1873.

I, as an Episcopalian, am creedal, not confessional.  I also accept science and oppose all forms of slavery.  Anglican collegiality is one of the defining characteristics of my faith.  Therefore, I find much to admire about Schmucker.  I also recognize points of strong disagreement with him.  Yet, whenever I ponder denominational full communion agreements, such as the one the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Episcopal Church share, I think Schmucker would approve.

Alex Haley advised,

Find the good and praise it.

I praise the good in the legacy of Samuel Simon Schmucker.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 250

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF ROBERT GROSSETESTE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC SCHOLAR, PHILOSOPHER, AND BISHOP OF LINCOLN

THE FEAST OF WILFRED THOMASON GRENFELL, MEDICAL MISSIONARY TO NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Samuel Simon Schmucker,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

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

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Blessed Odette Prevost (November 10)   Leave a comment

Above:  Flag of Algeria

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED ODETTE PRÉVOST (JULY 17, 1932-NOVEMBER 10, 1995)

French Roman Catholic Nun, and Martyr in Algeria, 1995

Alternative feast day (as one of the 19 Martyrs of Algeria) = May 8

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Find the good and praise it.

–Alex Haley

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Many people had led objectively good lives.  Unfortunately, a host of them have died violently.

Blessed Odette Prévost, born in Oger, Marne, France, on July 17, 1932, became a teacher.  She, as a laywoman, taught from 1950 to 1953.  Then, in 1953, Prévost joined the Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart; she made her final vows six years later.  The order transferred our saint first to Morocco then back to France then, finally, to Algiers, Algeria, in 1968.  In the capital city Prévost taught the poorest of the poor.  Her kitchen bustled with children’s activities as she tutored pupils and made yogurt for them.  Prévost also encouraged cross-cultural understanding and interfaith dialogue as she witnessed to Jesus with her life.

The early and middle 1990s were a turbulent time in Algeria.  From 1994 to 1996 the 19 Martyrs of Algeria met their fates.  Foreigners were one classification of people frequently targeted for murder.  On November 10, 1995, a gunman murdered Prévost while she walked to Mass.  She was 63 years old.

Pope Francis declared her a Venerable then a Blessed in 2018.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 20, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHANN HEERMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF HENRI DE LUBAC, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, CARDINAL, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF KARL FRIEDRICH LOCHNER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT WULFRIC OF HASELBURY, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

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Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women

who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.

Inspire us with the memory of Blessed Odette Prévost,

whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross,

and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives  to your Son’s victory over sin and death,

for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 20:40-42

Psalm 5

Revelation 6:9-11

Mark 8:34-38

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 59

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Feast of St. Teresa of Calcutta (September 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Gold Medal of Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT TERESA OF CALCUTTA (AUGUST 26, 1910-SEPTEMBER 5, 1997)

Foundress of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity

Also known as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu and Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Alternative feast day = October 19

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We can do no great things, only small things with great love.

–St. Teresa of Calcutta, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 393

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Reactions and responses to St. Teresa of Calcutta prove that, regardless of how good one is and how much one helps others, especially the poor and other marginalized persons, one will have vocal critics.  This is not surprising, especially if one considers Jesus of Nazareth, sinless, and the subject of intense criticism for nearly 2000 years.  One, such as St. Teresa, who makes no pretense of perfection while following Christ can expect criticism also.  The servant is not greater than the master.

Our saint was a native of Skopje, now the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, perhaps soon to become the Republic of North Macedonia.  On August 26, 1910, however, Skopje was a city in the Ottoman Empire.  St. Teresa, an ethnic Albanian, grew up in a series of countries for a few years without leaving the city; borders shifted around her.  In 1918, however, Skopje became part of the new country of Yugoslavia.   Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, the youngest child of Nikollé Bojaxhiu and Dranafile Bernai, grew up in a devout family.  Her parents had her baptized when she was one day old.  Her father died when she was eight years old.  Our saint, having read accounts of missionaries in the Bengal region of India, decided at a young age to become a missionary and a nun.

St. Teresa became a religious when she was 18 years old.  Agnes joined the Sisters of Loreto and resided at the abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland.  She studied English there.  The following year she arrived in India, as a missionary.  At first Agnes, still a novice, learned the Bengali language and taught at St. Teresa’s School, Darjeeling, in the southern Himalaya region.  Agnes made her first religious vows on May 24, 1931, becoming Teresa, after St. Thérèse of Lisieux.  When Sister Teresa made her final vows on May 14, 1937, she was a teacher in Calcutta.  Our saint taught in that school until she became the headmistress in 1944.

St. Teresa began her work living among and helping the poor in Calcutta in 1948.  She did this in obedience to a divine vocation she received during a train ride on September 10, 1946.  Over the years our saint founded institutions and spin-off orders of her original order, the Missionaries of Charity, founded with thirteen members in 1950.  She also became an Indian citizen.  St. Teresa and those who worked with her ministered to the poor, the homeless, the dying, lepers, the addicted, and victims of epidemics of natural disasters.  They started work in Calcutta then expanded around the world.

Eventually St. Teresa became famous internationally.  She received many honors, perhaps most notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.  She had a reputation as a living saint.  She lived up to it, venturing into war zones to rescue children and assisting victims of devastating earthquakes.  The staunch Roman Catholic, who opposed divorce, abortion, and artificial contraception, also attracted strong criticism from across the political spectrum.  Some critics were right-wing Hindu nationalist politicians.  Others were those sensitive to the global reputation of Calcutta, now renamed Kolkata.  There were also antitheists (to use Reza Aslan‘s term), such as Christopher Hitchens.  Criticism also came from other quarters.  St. Teresa’s death has not abated criticism of her and her orders.

The 87-year-old saint died in Calcutta on September 5, 1997.  The Indian Government gave her a state funeral, but not without controversy.  The Roman Catholic Church fast-tracked her path to full sainthood, declaring her a Venerable in 2002, a Blessed the following year, and a full saint in 2016.

St. Teresa is the patron of the Missionaries of Charity and, with St. Francis Xavier, a patron of the Diocese of Calcutta.

As for criticisms of St. Teresa, she was, like each of us, a flawed human being.  But would it be too much to ask that we, who have done far less good than she did, follow the advice of the novelist Alex Haley and “find the good and praise it”?

The orders St. Teresa founded continue to minister to vulnerable and marginalized people around the world.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORG WEISSEL, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA BERNARDINE DOROTHY HOPPE, U.S. LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN GOTTFRIED GEBHARD, GERMAN MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MUSIC EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER JULIAN EYMARD, FOUNDER OF THE PRIESTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, THE SERVANTS OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT, AND THE PRIESTS’ EUCHARISTIC LEAGUE; AND THE ORGANIZER OF THE CONFRATERNITY OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

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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.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Virtues of the Saints   1 comment

Above:  Icon of All Saints

Image in the Public Domain

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Reading and writing about lives of saints are ennobling hobbies.  Certainly I find them preferable to a host of alternative possible ways to spend time, not all of which are inherently bad.  I might, for example, follow the news of perfidy, disregard for the truth, and probable criminality rife in the Executive Branch of the Government of the United States of America more closely.  Or I might pour over all the details of political attacks (under false pretenses) on a Roman Catholic chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, complete with doses of Evangelical-Fundamentalist bias against Roman Catholicism, with its celibate priesthood in the Latin Rite.  Or I might lose myself in so-called reality shows.  But no, I prefer Bible studies and hagiographies.

I have been taking notes on saints with feast days ranging from July 7 to 11; I have not completed that project yet.  I have also made plans to draft posts, merge four feasts extant on my ECUMENICAL CALENDAR OF SAINTS’ DAYS AND HOLY DAYS into two feasts, and to create new posts during the next few days.

To focus on the lives of holy people, from antiquity to my lifetime, is to consider those who followed Christ left noble legacies.  There is never a bad time to do that, but now seems like an especially appropriate time, at least for me.  Nobody is perfect, but many of us are genuinely good.  I seek to, in the words of novelist Alex Haley,

Find the good and praise it.

As for current events, the passage of time and the efforts of principled investigators will reveal and document the truth, which will reside in the realm of objective reality, not opinion.  I leave that work to those suited for it.

Pax vobiscum!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

THE SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANNA ROSA GATTORNO, FOUNDRESS OF THE INSTITUTE OF THE DAUGHTERS OF SAINT ANNE, MOTHER OF MARY IMMACULATE

THE FEAST OF TOBIAS CLAUSNITZER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS WILLIBALD OF EICHSTATT AND LULLUS OF MAINZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT WALBURGA OF HEIDENHELM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; SAINTS PETRONAX OF MONTE CASSINO, WINNEBALD OF HEIDENHELM, WIGBERT OF FRITZLAR, AND STURMIUS OF FULDA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS; AND SAINT SEBALDUS OF VINCENZA, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT AND MISSIONARY

THE FEAST OF CLARENCE DICKINSON, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

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