Archive for the ‘Apartheid’ Tag

Feast of Richard McSorley (October 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Image Source = Google Earth

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RICHARD T. MCSORLEY, S.J. (OCTOBER 2, 1914-OCTOBER 17, 2002)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest, Professor, and Peace Activist

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I see my mission in life, as God has made it known to me, to help make the Catholic Church what it should be, a peace church.  To be Christian means to have respect for life in all its forms, and in today’s nuclear age, that means Christians must become active witnesses for peace and must firmly oppose all forms of war.

–Father Richard T. McSorley, S.J., quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 540

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Father Richard T. McSorley, S.J., comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Cady and Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

The McSorleys of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were a large and devout Roman Catholic family.  There were fifteen children, eight of whom entered religious life.  Young Richard entered the Society of Jesus in 1932, at Wernesville, Pennsylvania.  By 19939, our saint completed his degree in philosophy.  That year, the order sent him to Manila, the Philippines, to teach at a Jesuit high school and seminary.

McSorley spent December 13, 1941-February 23, 1945, as a prisoner of the Japanese Empire.  He and other Jesuits and seminarians suffered repeated tortures.  McSorley nearly died of starvation.  He, hauled repeatedly before firing squads, saw fellow prisoners executed.  Japanese soldiers laughed at our saint, and aimed their guns at him without shooting.  They faked him out three times.

After U.S. paratroopers rescued the prisoners.  McSorley returned to the Untied States of America.  Our saint graduated from seminary at Woodstock College in Maryland.  He, ordained to the priesthood in 1946, embarked upon a life of ministry and social justice.  He, assigned to St. James’ Church, St. Mary’s City, Maryland, confronted Jim Crow laws, individual racism, and the Ku Klux Klan.  He preached against racism, advocated for the desegregation of church and society, and nearly became the victim of a Klan lynching.  McSorley, not intimidated, refused to be silent.

McSorley, who taught philosophy at the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania (1952-1961), completed his doctorate at Ottawa University, Canada, during those years.  Then he taught theology at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. (1961f).  He also did all of the following:

  1. He tutored the children of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
  2. He marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., at Selma, Alabama.
  3. He opposed the Vietnam War.
  4. He became a pacifist in the 1960s.
  5. He tried to abolish all chapters of the R.O.T.C. at Roman Catholic colleges and universities.
  6. He favored the abolition of the R.O.T.C.
  7. He denounced all weapons of mass destruction.
  8. He condemned nuclear weapons as sinful.
  9. He helped to found Pax Christi U.S.A. in the 1970s.
  10. He went to jail for peacefully protesting Apartheid and nuclear weapons.
  11. He opposed Ronald Reagan’s policy of supporting repressive governments in Latin America.
  12. He wrote books and articles.

McSorley had a well-developed sense of the disparity between the laws of God and the laws of governments.  For our saint, Christian love was nonviolent love.  He considered Just War Theory absurd, especially in the age of nuclear weapons:

Can we serve both God and our government when the government orders us to do what God forbids?  Of course not.

McSorley belonged to the Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton wing of the Roman Catholic Church.  Our saint made enemies, of course.  He made enemies inside the Society of Jesus.  F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover (that paragon of opposition to civil rights and civil liberties) considered McSorley a “disgrace” and searched in vain for a way to smear his reputation.

McSorley, aged 88 years, died in Washington, D.C., on October 17, 2002.

Our saint took to heart the commandment of Jesus to love one’s enemies.  In so doing, McSorley became a radical–a radical Christian.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 16, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BERNADETTE OF LOURDES, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC VISIONARY

THE FEAST OF CALVIN WEISS LAUFER, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF ISABELLA GILMORE, ANGLICAN DEACONESS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MIKEL SUMA, ALBANIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, FRIAR, AND MARTYR, 1950

THE FEAST OF PETER WILLIAMS CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL DEACON; AND HIS WIFE, ANNIE BESANT CASSEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EPISCOPAL EDUCATOR

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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 peace with oppression.

Help us [like your servant Richard T. McSorley] to use our freedom

to bring justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

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Feast of Joseph Lowery (October 5)   Leave a comment

Above:  Joseph and Evelyn Lowery, Atlanta, Georgia, 1994

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsca-47972

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JOSEPH ECHOLS LOWERY, SR. (OCTOBER 6, 1921-MARCH 27, 2020)

African-American United Methodist Minister and Civil Rights Leader

Joseph Lowery comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via civil rights activism.

The struggle to gain and retain civil rights, which should be automatic because one has a pulse, never ends.  At any given time, some person, group, or political party seeks to deny or curtail the civil rights of certain people based on an arbitrary characteristic.  These evildoers frequently cloak these efforts in the language of righteousness.  The life and legacy of Joseph Lowery contains lessons that, sadly, remain current and relevant.

Lowery, born in Huntsville, Alabama, on October 6, 1921, grew up in the (old) Jim Crow South.  His mother, Dora Lowery, was a teacher.  His father, Leroy Lowery, Jr., was a small businessman.  The 14-year-old Lowery once refused to get off a sidewalk as a white man approached and passed.  For this alleged offense, a white police officer punched our young saint.  The youth rushed home to get a gun, but his father dissuaded him.  The family sent Lowery to live with relatives in Chicago, Illinois, for a few years.  Our saint returned to Huntsville in 1936.  After graduating from William Cooper Council High School in 1939, he went to college.  He matriculated at Knoxville College, transferred to Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical College, then studied at Paine College, Augusta, Georgia (Class of 1943).

Lowery became a minister in The Methodist Church (1939-1968).  He matriculated at Payne Theological Seminary (of the African Methodist Episcopal Church), Wilberforce, Ohio, 1944.  In the early 1940s, he had married Agnes Moore.  The couple had two children, Joseph Lowery, Jr.; and Leroy Lowery, III.  That marriage ended in divorce in the middle 1940s.  Our saint completed his Doctor of Divinity degree from the Chicago Ecumenical Institute, Chicago, Illinois (1950).  That year, he also married civil rights activist Evelyn Gibson, a member of The Methodist Church.  The couple had three children:  Yvonne, Karen, and Cheryl.

Lowery served as the pastor of Warren Street Methodist Church, Mobile, Alabama (1952-1961).  During those years, he became a leader in the Civil Rights Movement.  He helped to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Lowery also led the Alabama Civic Affairs Association, dedicated to the desegregation of buses and public places.  In 1957, Lowery; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and others founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  He held various positions in the SCLC before serving as the President (1977-1997).  The State of Alabama harassed Lowery and certain other civil rights leaders in 1959.  The state seized their cars and other property to pay damages resulting from a libel suit.  The United States Supreme Court, in New York Times Company v. Sullivan (1964), ruled that Alabama’s libel law violated the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of speech and press.  The State of Alabama, therefore, had acted unconstitutionally.

From 1961 to 1964, Lowery worked in the office of Methodist Bishop Michael Golden, in Nashville, Tennessee.  Our saint continued to participate in protests for civil rights during these years.

Lowery was pastor of St. Paul Methodist Church, Birmingham, Alabama, from 1964 to 1968.  He also marched with Dr. King at Selma in 1965.

Lowery was the senior pastor of Central United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Georgia (1968-1986).  Almost immediately, he continued his tradition of getting arrested from a righteous cause, but in Georgia.  Our saint’s participation in a sanitation workers’ strike (1968) led to jail time.  This was neither his first nor last time to go to jail for protesting peacefully.  He, active in the anti-Apartheid movement, went to jail in the District of Columbia for participating in a protest there outside the South African embassy in 1984, for example.

Lower was the senior pastor of Cascade United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Georgia (1986-1992).  He built up his congregation, community, city, and society.  Our saint worked to ensure that Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) lines ran through African-American communities.  He also helped to initiate a gun buyback program.  Evelyn initiated an HIV/AIDS program from African-American communities.  Lowery retired in 1992.

Lowery remained socially conscious, active, and controversial (as all proper social activists are) in retirement.  He served as the President of the SCLC until 1997.  Clark Atlanta University opened the Joseph E. Lowery Center for Justice and Human Rights in 2001.  At the funeral of Coretta Scott King, in 2006, in the presence of President George W. Bush, Lowery aroused much conservative ire by condemning the federal government for fighting a war in Iraq yet not a war on domestic poverty.  (One gets to denounce a U.S. President peacefully in the presence of that President in the United States of America, of course.  It is a grand American tradition.)  Later in life, our saint openly advocated for equal rights for homosexuals.  He initially spoke out in favor of civil unions, then, in 2012, same-sex marriage.

Evelyn Lowery died on September 26, 2013.

Our saint, aged 99 years, died in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 27, 2020.

Perhaps the best way to conclude this post is with Lowery’s benediction at the first inauguration of President Barack Obama, on January 20, 2009:

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest,

and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work

for that day when black will not be asked to get in back; 

when brown can stick around;

when yellow will be mellow;

when the red man can get ahead, man;

and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say,

Amen!  Say Amen!  And Amen!

That vision remains in the future tense, unfortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 13, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH BARBER LIGHTFOOT, BISHOP OF DURHAM

THE FEAST OF HENRI PERRIN, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC WORKER PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JOHN GLOUCESTER, FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARTIN I, BISHOP OF ROME, AND MARTYR, 655; AND SAINT MAXIMUS THE CONFESSOR, EASTERN ORTHODOX MONK, ABBOT, AND MARTYR, 662

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROLANDO RIVI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1945

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

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

Help us [like your servant, Joseph Echols Lowery, Sr.] to use our freedom

to bring justice among peoples and nations, to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

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Feast of Walter and Albertina Sisulu (October 21)   Leave a comment

Above:  Walter and Albertina Sisulu with their Wedding Party, Including Nelson Mandela

Image in the Public Domain

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WALTER ULYETE MAX SISULU (MAY 18, 1912-MAY 5, 2003)

Anti-Apartheid Activist and Political Prisoner in South Africa

husband of

NONTSIKELELO ALBERTINA SISULU (OCTOBER 21, 1918-JUNE 2, 1911)

Anti-Apartheid Activist and Political Prisoner in South Africa

“Mother of the Nation”

Born Nontsikelelo Thethiwe

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[The South African government] call themselves Christians, but I fail to understand, because in the very Bible they are carrying it says, “Thou shalt not kill.”  But they are busy killing the children, busy killing the people in jail.

–Albertina Sisulu, April 1988; quoted in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, eds., Cloud of Witnesses, 2nd. ed. (2005), 36

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To share the sacrament as part of the tradition of my Church was important for me.  It gave me a sense of inner quiet and calm.  I used to come away from these services feeling a new man.

–Walter Sisulu, in a letter from prison, May 10, 1979

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I have never abandoned my Christian beliefs.

–Walter Sisulu, 1993

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INTRODUCTION

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Albertina Sisulu comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Wallis and Hollyday, Cloud of Witnesses (2005).  Walter Sisulu joins her here because he was her husband and fellow activist for social justice, in the name of God.  One cannot properly tell the story of one Sisulu alone.  One can, however, properly tell the story of the couple.

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MEET WALTER SISULU

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Walter Sisulu, born in Qutubeni, a village in the Engcobo district of Transkei, Eastern Cape, on May 18, 1912, was the son of Albert of Victor Dickenson and Alice Mase Sisulu.  Dickenson, an assistant magistrate, was White.  The mother was African.  The couple was not married.  Young Walter grew up with his grandmother and uncle until he was six years old.  Then he began to live in his mother’s household.  Our saint, baptized a Methodist, studied at an Anglican missionary school until he was 15 years old, when his uncle died.  Walter had to leave school and work in a dairy in Johannesburg to help support his family financially.

Walter, who worked in a gold mine, starting in 1929, eventually moved to East London, Eastern Cape, to rejoin his mother, who had become a domestic worker there.  In East London, our saint met Clements Kadalie, the leader of the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU).  In 1933, Walter and his mother settled in Johannesburg.  He worked at the Premier Biscuit factory and attended the Bantu Men’s Social Centre’s night school.   Our saint also helped to organize a strike for higher wages at the bakery.  So, he got fired in 1940.  That year, he also joined the African National Congress (ANC).

Throughout the 1940s, Walter worked in a succession of jobs, departing from one for the next one in a disagreement.  Finally, our saint went into real estate.  First he was a partner with a White man.  Then Walter branched out on his own.

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MEET ALBERTINA SISULU

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Nontsikelelo Thethiwe, born in the Tsomo district of Transkei, Eastern Cape, on October 21, 1918, was the second of five children of Bonizwe and Monikazi Thethiwe.  Nontsikelelo arrived at a perilous time, that of the Spanish Influenza, which her mother had while pregnant wtih her.  Bonilizwe, the father, was away, working in the mines.  Monkazi, the mother, suffered aftereffects of the Spanish Influenza.  Therefore, our saint and her immediate family (except for her father) lived with Monkazi’s relatives in Xolobe.  There our saint attended a Presbyterian missionary school.  According to the custom at the school, she selected a Christian name for herself.  Nontsikelelo chose to become Albertina.

Albertina was a good student, but domestic demands held her back academically.  Her mother being ill constantly, our saint had to keep leaving school to take care of her younger siblings.  This situation, combined with her age, disqualified Albertina for a four-year scholarship for which she had competed and which she had won.  Given that the competition call had not stated an age limit, this predicament was unfair.  Albertina’s teachers advocated for her.  Some local Roman Catholic priests took up this case and arranged for a four-year scholarship for Albertina to attend the high school at Mariazell College, Mataliele, Eastern Cape.  She graduated in 1939.

Albertina, who had converted to Roman Catholicism while a student at Mariazell College, pondered becoming a nun.  Yet doing this would not have enabled our saint to work to support her family financially.  Therefore, a priest advised Albertina to consider nursing instead.  She started training to become a nurse in Johannesburg in January 1940.

Albertina experienced racism for the first time in Johannesburg.  White nurses had higher status than Black nurses.  African patients could not receive treatment in European wards, even when the non-European ward was full and the European ward was not.  And racist restrictions on Black nurses prevented Albertina from attending her mother’s funeral in 1941.

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WALTER AND ALBERTINA

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Above:  The Flag of South Africa, 1928-1994

Image in the Public Domain

Albertina met Walter in 1941.  He was politically active; she was not.  Then she became politically active, too, under his influence.  In 1944, Albertina became a fully qualified nurse.  That July 15, she and Walter married in a ceremony held at the Bantu Men’s Social Club, Johannesburg.

The Sisulus’ household spanned three generations.  The couple had five children:  Max (b. 1945), Lungi (b. 1948), Zwelkhe (b. 1950), Lindiwe (b. 1954), and Nonkuleleko (b. 1958).  The household, at 7373, Orlando, Soweto, also included Walter’s mother (Alice), as well as younger members of the extended family.  Gerald (b. 1944) and Beryl (b. 1948), children of Walter’s sister, lived there, too.  So did Jongumzi (b. 1957), the son of Walter’s cousin.  Meanwhile, Albertina worked as a nurse.

The Sisulu house was also a hub of political activity.  ANC activists visited frequently.  In 1948, when the ANC formed its Women’s League, Albertina joined.  Walter became the first full-time Secretary-General of the ANC the following year.  He, having become increasingly militant during the 1940s, was prepared for the resistance struggle against full-blown Apartheid, imposed starting in 1948.

Albertina and Walter actively opposed that racially-defined form of tyranny.  They also went to jail repeatedly and endured official harassment at home.  The Sisulus opposed measures such as the pass laws.  They also operated an alternative school for a time.  Over the decades, both of them were also banned people.  Walter joined the South African Communist Party (SACP) in the early 1950s.  In 1956, he was one of a large group of activists accused of treason after having organized the Freedom Charter campaign and the Congress of the People.  The verdict in 1961 was an acquittal.  After the Sharpville Massacre (1960), the government imposed a state of emergency.  Walter was one of the ANC activists detained for several months during this time.  He, later placed under house arrest, continued to lead the militant struggle against Apartheid.

Walter, convicted of furthering the aims of the ANC and sentenced to six years of incarceration in March 1963, skipped bail and house arrest on April 20, 1963.  He went underground at the secret headquarters of the SACP.  Government security forces arrested Albertina and Zwelakhe.  Albertina spent two months in solitary confinement.  Interrogators made her believe that her husband had died.  She learned that he was alive after his arrest on July 11, 1963.

Walter and his fellow conspirators received life sentences on June 12, 1964.  They served their sentences at Robben Island.  For the next quarter of a century, Albertina continued the struggle and spent some time in prison, too.  In order to visit her husband, she had to humiliate herself by applying for a passbook.  And, for almost all of that that quarter of a century, she was a banned person.  Finally, finances were difficult, of course.  Fortunately, overseas donors and local Anglican priests helped.  Despite the many difficulties, Albertina kept mothering children from her extended family and adding on to the house, to accommodate them.

Other members of the Sisulu joined the anti-Apartheid struggle and faced the legal consequences of doing so.  Daughter Lindiwe, arrested in 1976, went to prison.  She remained in custody for more than a year, during which she endured repeated tortures.  After her release, she left the country.  Also, Max, after release from detention, went into exile, too.  And Zwelakhe spent two years in detention without a trial.

Meanwhile, Walter led from prison.  He taught younger members of the ANC the history of that organization.  He advised Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) on how to negotiate with the South African government in the 1980s, too.

Albertina, arrested in late 1983 for giving an illegal speech on behalf of the ANC while a banned person, received a sentence of four years in prison on February 24, 1984.  The court suspended two of those years for five years.  Allies paid our saint’s bail that day.  Yet Albertina, arrested again on February 19, 1985, on the charge of treason, went into solitary confinement.  The court permitted bail on the condition that Albertina curtail her political activity.  The state, acknowledging its weak legal hand, withdrew charges on December 9, 1985.

Starting in 1984, Albertina worked for Dr. Abu Asvat, who operated a mobile clinic that served poor people.  He paid her even when she was in custody.  The two anti-Apartheid activists of different political stripes tended effectively to essential problems of the very poor.  For example, they installed 20 toilets for 150 people who lived in their vehicles at McDonald’s Farm.  Also, the two instituted a daily feeding program for the approximately 80 children at the farm.

Albertina, a banned person again in the late 1980s, granted an interview with Joyce Hollyday of Sojourners magazine.  In that interview, Albertina spoke of her faith, family, and anti-Apartheid struggle.  She expressed the hope that Apartheid would end during her lifetime.  And our saint correctly diagnosed why the South African government perpetuated Apartheid and operated a police state:  fear.

By 1989, the foundations of Apartheid were cracking.  That much was obvious.  The government released Walter from prison on October 26.  Mandela (a prisoner until February 11, 1990) insisted on this as a condition for continuing to negotiate with the government.  The following year, the government lifted the ban on the ANC, banned since 1963.  Albertina helped to reestablish the ANC Women’s League in 1990.  In 1991, she won election to the ANC’s National Executive Committee and Walter won election as the ANC’s Deputy President.

The Flag of South Africa, 1994-

Image in the Public Domain

Apartheid ended in 1994.  Nelson Mandela, elected President, served until 1999.  Both Albertina and Walter served in the new parliament until 1999, too.

The Sisulus moved into a new house in Linden, Johannesburg, in 1999.  Walter died there, in Albertina’s arms, on May 5, 2003.  He died thirteen days prior to his ninety-first birthday.  Albertina died in Johannesburg on June 2, 2011.  She was ninety-two years old.  Each Sisulu received a state funeral.

God Bless Africa.

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CONCLUSION

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Meister Eckhart (c. 1268-1327/1328), the great Dominican theologian and mystic, offered timeless spiritual counsel.  One gem of his sagacity was:

Do exactly what you would do if you felt most secure.

People frequently harm, hate, and discriminate against others out of fear and insecurity.  Those who hate, harm, and discriminate against may know that they are in the wrong yet have too much fear and insecurity to cease doing that.  They may ask themselves what those they have been hating, harming, and discriminating against will do to them, given the opportunity.  Therefore, the cycle of oppression and injustice continues unbroken.  Love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and justice break that cycle.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 12, 2021 COMMON ERA

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

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

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT JULIUS I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZENO OF VERONA, BISHOP

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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 Walter and Albertina Sisulu]

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

to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

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

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Feast of Will Herzfeld (June 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Logo of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Fair Use

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WILLIAM LAWRENCE HERZFELD (JUNE 9, 1937-MAY 9, 2002)

U.S. Lutheran Ecumenist, Presiding Bishop of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and Civil Rights Activist

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Will was a person with uncanny insight, constant respect for people, and a focus on the gospel.  He conveyed the partnership, accompaniment, of a large North American church with churches in other lands in a manner that transcended economic, cultural, and political boundaries.

–Bonnie L. Jansen, Executive Director, Division for Global Mission, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; quoted in G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006), 408

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Bishop Will Herzfeld was a leader of U.S. Lutheranism.  He departed from one denomination, helped to form two denominations, and played a vital role in increasing the degree of unity of Lutheranism in the United States.  Activism in support of civil rights was a component of his faith.

Herzfeld grew up in the Jim Crow South.  He, born in Mobile, Alabama, on June 9, 1937, was a son of Julius Herzfeld, Sr., and Clarice Heinningburg Herzfeld.  Our saint grew up in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS)–in Faith Lutheran Church, Mobile, to be precise.  He attended parochial schools then other Lutheran institutions of education for African Americans.  Herzfeld graduated from the subpar Alabama Lutheran Academy and College (now Concordia College), Selma.  He carried negative memories of this institution for the rest of his life.  Our saint also graduated from Immanuel Lutheran College, Greensboro, North Carolina (1957).  Herzfeld went on to graduate from Immanuel Lutheran Seminary, Greensboro (M.Div., 1961), and to continue his studies at Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.  Meanwhile, he married Thressa M. Alston at Kannapolis, North Carolina, on June 11, 1961.  The couple had four children–two daughters and two sons–three of whom lived to adulthood.  Their first child, a daughter, lived only one day.

Herzfeld was an ordained minister in the LCMS from 1961 to 1976.  His first pastorate was Christ Lutheran Church, Tuscaloosa, Alabama (1961-1965).  Our saint became a leader in the Civil Rights Movement while in Tuscaloosa.  He helped to organize the Tuscaloosa chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1963.  Herzfeld, the first president of that chapter, worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968).  OUr saint also served as the president of the Alabama branch of the SCLC (1964-1965).  On the denominational level, he was active in the Southern District of the LCMS.  Our saint sat on the Stewardship Committee and the Family Life Committee.  Furthermore, he was the Vice President of the Lutheran Human Relations Association of America (1964-1966).

Herzfeld ministered in the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of the LCMS, starting .  He, based in Oakland, California, was an urban minister for the district (1966-1969).  Our saint also served as the regional mission executive of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. (1969-1973).  This service overlapped with his time on the LCMS Board of Missions (1969-1973), the Council for Christian Medical Work (1973-1975), and the Board of Directors of the Wheat Ridge Foundation (now the We Raise Foundation) from 1069 to 1972.  The latter organization addresses social inequality.

Herzfeld ministered in the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of the LCMS, starting in 1966.  He, based in Oakland, California, was an urban minister for the district (1966-1969).  Our saint also served as the regional mission executive of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A. (1969-1973).  This service overlapped with his time on the LCMS Board of Missions (1969-1973), the Council for Christian Medical Work (1973-1975), and the Board of Directors of the Wheat Ridge Foundation (now the We Raise Foundation) from 1969 to 1972.  (The We Raise Foundation addresses social inequality.)

Above:  Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Oakland, California

Image Source = Google Earth

Herzfeld was the pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Oakland, California, from 1973 to 1992.  These were eventful years for U.S. Lutheranism.  Our saint, who had represented LCMS President Jacob Preus at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the LCMS mission in India in 1969, broke with Preus during the doctrinal turmoil (1969-1976) in the denomination.  Herzfeld became the vice president of the moderate Evangelical Lutherans in Mission (ELIM) in 1973.  Three years later, he became the Vice President of the moderate, breakaway Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC), to which ELIM gave birth.  The AELC eventually changed its title to Presiding Bishop.  Herzfeld became the Presiding Bishop in 1984.  By then he had been active for years in efforts to merge the AELC, the Lutheran Church in America (1962-1987), and The American Lutheran Church (1960-1987) into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Herzfeld was socially and politically active.  He taught urban ministry at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, California, starting in 1976.  He devoted much to ecumenical Black Theology-related projects and organizations for decades.  Our saint always seemed to find time for work in civil rights.  He worked for nuclear disarmament.  Herzfeld, active in urban renewal in Oakland, served in a variety of capacities toward that end.  He also found time to be the chaplain of the Golden State Warriors, a professional basketball team, from 1984 to 1991.

Herzfeld made history.  He made history in 1984, when he became the first African-American head of a U.S. Lutheran denomination.  He made history in the 1980s by being prominent in the movement to bring global pressure on the Apartheid-era governments of South Africa.  Our saint made history by helping to seal the deal to form the ELCA.

Meanwhile, Herzfeld continued his education.  He earned two doctorates–one from the Center for Urban Black Studies, the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California; and the other one from Seminex.

Herzfeld resigned from Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Oakland, at the end of 1992 to accept promotion to the denominational level.  He moved to Chicago, Illinois, to become the Director for Global Community and Overseas Operations of the Division of Global Mission of the ELCA.  He, already a presence in global Lutheranism, expanded his worldwide profile.  He served as the Vice Presidency of Lutheran World Relief.  Our saint, a vice president of the National Council of Churches during his final years, was also active in the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation.  Herzfeld represented the ELCA globally in a variety of capacities and at a number of events.

In 2002, Herzfeld visited the Central African Republic.  He went there to attend the ordination of the first female Lutheran minister in that country.  Unfortunately, he also contracted cerebral malaria.  A month later, on May 9, our saint died at Resurrection Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois.  Had Herzfeld lived one month longer, he would have celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday.

Survivors included Herzfeld’s former wife, Thressa; his three adult children–Martin, Katherine, and Stephen; and five grandchildren.  Our saint’s second wife, the Reverend Michele L. Robinson, had died in May 2001.

Herzfeld’s death prompted many remembrances and kind words.  Perhaps the most poignant statement came from a colleague, Herbert Chilstrom, the first Presiding Bishop of the ELCA. Chilstrom said,

I’ve lost a friend.

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God of justice, we praise you as we thank you for the

life, work, and legacy of your servant, Will Herzfeld.

May we, deriving inspiration from his example,

confront and resist systems of oppression and artificial inequality

as we strive to live according to the Golden Rule

and to leave society better than we found it.

May we also work to break down unnecessary barriers

to greater ecclesiastical unity and cooperation, for your glory.

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

Amos 5:21-24

Psalm 95

Galatians 5:13-15

Matthew 25:31-46

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAROSLAV VAJDA, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOZEF CEBULA, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1941

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAMPHILIUS OF SULMONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND ALMSGIVER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHANEL, PROTOMARTYR OF OCEANIA, 1841

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW, EPISCOPAL ATTORNEY, THEOLOGIAN, AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

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Feast of Robert McAfee Brown (May 28)   3 comments

Above:  Stanford University

Photographer = Carol M. Highsmith

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-21158

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ROBERT MCAFEE BROWN (MAY 28, 1928-SEPTEMBER 4, 2001)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Theologian, Activist, and Ecumenist

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In conscience, I must break the law.

–Robert McAfee Brown, October 31, 1967

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Robert McAfee Brown comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via my library.

Above:  Two Books by Robert McAfee Brown

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Brown stood in the finest tradition of the Hebrew prophets and centuries of Christian tradition.  He, born in Carthage, Illinois, on May 28, 1928, was a son of Ruth McAfee (Brown) and Presbyterian minister George William McAfee.  Our saint was also a grandson of Cleland Boyd McAfee, a professor at McCormick Theological Seminary.  Brown, a 1944 graduate of Amherst College, married Sydney Elise Thomson on June 21, 1944.  The couple had three sons and a daughter.  Our saint, a student at Union Theological Seminary from 1943 to 1945, studied under Paul Tillich (1886-1965) and Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971).  After graduating, Brown served as a chaplain in the United States Navy in 1945 and 1946.

Brown spent most of his life as an academic.  He was an assistant chaplain and an instructor in religion at Amherst College in 1946-1948.  Then he studied at Mansfield College, Oxford, in 1949 and 1950.  Our saint, an instructor at Union Theological Seminary in 1950 and 1951, earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1951.  He led the Department of Religion, Malacaster College, St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1951-1953.  Our saint served on the faculty of Union Theological Seminary in 1953-1962.  Then, in 1962-1976, our saint was a Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University.  Brown returned to Union Theological Seminary in 1976 as Professor of Ecumenics and World Christianity.  Our saint was Professor of Theology and Ethics at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California, in 1979-1984.  Then he retired.

Brown was an ecumenist.  In the early 1950s, when unapologetic anti-Roman Catholicism was prominent in U.S. Protestantism, our saint campaigned for Minnesota Congressman Eugene McCarthy, whose Roman Catholicism was a political difficulty.  Brown and Gustave Weigel (1906-1964) collaborated on An American Dialogue:  A Protestant Looks at Catholicism and a Catholic Looks at Protestantism (1960).  Time magazine called Brown

Catholics’ favorite Protestant

in 1962.  Our saint was even an observer (on behalf of global Calvinism) at the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) in 1963 and 1965.  Brown also attended the Fourth Assembly of the World Council of Churches as a delegate in 1968.  Seven years later, he delivered the keynote address (“Who is This Jesus Who Frees and Unites?”) at the Fifth Assembly of the World Council of Churches.

Social justice was essential to Brown’s faith.  He, a pacifist, had no moral difficulty serving as a military chaplain after World War II.  Our saint’s pacifism led him to oppose the Vietnam War, of course.  His conscience led him to protest the military draft, to speak and write against the war, to commit civil disobedience, and to go to jail for doing so in 1971.  That conscience also let Brown to join a delegation that met with Pope Paul VI (1897-1978) in  January 1973 about ending the Vietnam War.

Brown was also a longtime civil rights activist at home and abroad.  He, a Freedom Rider in 1961, went to jail in Tallahassee, Florida.  Our saint addressed the immorality of Apartheid when he spoke at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of South Africa in September 1972.  Brown also advocated for women’s liberation and the civil rights of homosexuals.  Furthermore, he was active in the Sanctuary Movement, for he cared deeply about justice in Central America.  This led our saint to collaborate with Liberation Theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez (b. 1928).

Brown also helped to raise consciousness about the Holocaust.  He, a friend of Elie Wiesel (1928-2016) since the middle 1970s, served on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council from 1979 to 1985.  Our saint resigned after President Ronald Reagan visited Bitburg Cemetery, containing graves of Waffen SS troups.

Brown became a novelist late in life.  He published Dark the Night, Wild the Sea in 1998.

Brown, aged 81 years, died in Greenfield, Massachusetts, on September 4, 2001.

One of Brown’s volumes invaluable for Bible study is Unexpected News:  Reading the Bible with Third World Eyes (1984).  Passages covered came from Luke, Exodus, 2 Samuel, Jeremiah, Matthew, and Daniel.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

WEDNESDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT OLGA OF KIEV, REGENT OF KIEVAN RUSSIA; SAINT ADALBERT OF MAGDEBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT ADALBERT OF PRAGUE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MARTYR, 997; AND SAINTS BENEDICT AND GAUDENTIUS OF POMERANIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 997

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DAMIEN AND MARIANNE OF MOLOKAI, WORKERS AMONG LEPERS

THE FEAST OF SAINT FLAVIA DOMITILLA, ROMAN CATHOLIC NOBLEWOMAN; AND SAINTS MARO, EUTYCHES, AND VICTORINUS OF ROME, PRIESTS AND MARTYS, CIRCA 99

THE FEAST OF SAINT HUNNA OF ALSACE, THE “HOLY WASHERWOMAN”

THE FEAST OF LUCY CRAFT LANEY, AFRICAN-AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN EDUCATOR AND CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

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

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

Help us, like your servant Robert McAfee Brown,

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, 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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Excessive Negativity on YouTube as Disordered Love   1 comment

Above:  The U.S. DVD Cover for The Brain of Morbius

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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And your petty obsessions! England for the English! Good heavens, man!

–The Doctor, in The Claws of Axos, Episode One (1971)

The Doctor is an internationalist.  So am I.

The Internet has much virtue.  I find it invaluable in preparing hagiographies, for example.  The Internet also has much vice, not the least of which is excessive negativity, often laced with or starring unapologetic bigotry.  Much of this excessive negativity relates to geek culture.  Certain YouTubers have channels on which they focus exclusively or mainly on negative content.

I notice this in the genre of science fiction-related videos, especially regarding Doctor Who.  I cannot help but notice that the recently-completed season of that series has aroused much bile and vitriol, much of it uninformed.  I remember a time before the modern series.  I recall a time when I could watch the series only on Saturday nights on public television.  Furthermore, I have been rewatching the classic series (as much as that is possible), with an emphasis on the William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, and Jon Pertwee years (1963-1974).  Do not take my word for it; watch for yourself, O reader.  Heightened social consciousness goes far back into classic Doctor Who.  Consider the societal background of the Daleks (stand-ins for Nazis; debuted in the second serial, The Daleks, in 1963-1964)) and Cybermen (based on fears related to organ transplants and artificial limbs; debuted in The Tenth Planet, in 1966), for example. The Krotons (the villians) in The Krotons (1968-1969) have South African accents.  One may surmise that the voice actors were making a statement about the evil of Apartheid.  The Doctor criticizes Apartheid by name in The Mutants (1972).  The Doctor’s character is inherently anti-authoritarian.  I also know that, during the Pertwee years (1970-1974), messages relating to problems such as pollution, nativism, and abuse of workers pervaded stories.  Inferno (1970) contains an obvious anti-fascist message.  The Silurians (1970f) and the Sea Devils (1972f) raise questions about the mistreatment of indigenous peoples.  Imperialism takes many hits in stories during the Pertwee years, especially in Colony in Space (1971).  Furthermore, The Curse of Peladon (1972) is more germane than ever in the age of Brexit.  In the domain of canon, in which even the classic series contradicts itself (see:  three mutually exclusive versions of Atlantis, including two during the Pertwee years), the recent revelations about the Timeless Child are consistent with The Brain of Morbius (1976), in which producer Philip Hinchcliffe sought to indicate pre-Hartnell Doctors.

More people should be slower to criticize Chris Chibnall and faster to consult the long and rich heritage of Doctor Who before arriving at conclusions.  They should also repent of their biases and opposition to social justice messages.

People should focus primarily on that they like, not what they dislike.  Are some people’s lives so empty that they seek to fill that void with vitrol?  Are many people not content unless they are angry?  Evidence seems to indicate that the answer is yes.

Much of this excessive negativity, such as that evident on certain YouTube channels and in the comments sections of a plethora of videos, is evidence of disordered love, St. Augustine of Hippo‘s definition of sin.  Some objects are worthy of a certain amount of love.  To love them more than one should is to commit idolatry, to love God insufficiently.  In this case, to enjoy or to dislike Doctor Who is morally neutral, but to approach it with religious fervor is to commit idolatry.  No series or franchise is like a religion for me.  I have a religion, Christianity.  Doctor Who is one of my preferred forms of entertainment.

I choose to refrain from watching any video from any YouTube channel that is primarily or entirely negative.  I opt not to encourage such anger by adding to the number of views.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 10, 2010 COMMON ERA

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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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Feast of John Hines (July 19)   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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JOHN ELBRIDGE HINES (OCTOBER 10, 1910-JULY 19, 1997)

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and Witness for Civil Rights

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Justice is the corporate face of love.

John Hines, 1981

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John Elbridge Hines will probably receive his pledge on The Episcopal Church’s calendar eventually.  The appendix to A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016) lists him as one of those

people worthy of commemoration who do not qualify under the “reasonable passage of time” guideline.

–Page A3

That makes sense as a denominational policy.  Nevertheless, more than a reasonable amount of time has passed for inclusion on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

John Elbridge Hines was a prophet, in the highest sense of that word.  He, born in Seneca, South Carolina, on October 10, 1910, graduated from The University of the South then from Virginia Theological Seminary.  Our saint, ordained during the Great Depression, served in the Diocese of Missouri for a few years, during which he imbibed deeply of Social Christianity.  He also married Helen Orwig (1910-1996).  The couple had five children.  As the Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Augusta, Georgia, from 1937 to 1941, Hines was an outspoken critic of racial segregation.  Our saint’s final parish (from 1941 to 1945) was Christ Church, Houston, Texas.

Hines was a bishop most of his life.  From 1945 to 1955 he was the Bishop Coadjutor of Texas; then he was the Bishop of Texas for another nine years.  In Texas Hines helped to found the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the West, in Austin, in 1953.  He also integrated schools.  Then, in 1965, at the age of 54 years, Hines became the Presiding Bishop of the denomination.

Change was in the air, and much of that change was morally correct yet no less jarring and offensive to many.  Civil rights for African Americans were difficult for many white Americans to accept, for racism ran deeply.  Likewise, feminism was challenging patriarchy, which also ran deeply.  The Episcopal Church, long known as “the Republican Party at prayer,” was engaging the winds of change.  Many of the leaders were liberal–pro-civil rights, pro-equal rights for women.  Elements of the church resisted these changes, however.  Hines, with his social conscience fully engaged with regard to race, gender, and economics, had to contend with much strong opposition within The Episcopal Church.  He built on the legacies of his two immediate predecessors–Henry Knox Sherrill (1947-1958) and Arthur Carl Lichtenberger (1958-1964).

Much of what was revolutionary in 1965-1974 became mainstream subsequently.  The new Presiding Bishop marched at Selma, Alabama, in 1965; that was a controversial decision.  In 1971 Hines led a campaign to divest from South Africa, a proposition that aroused much opposition in much of U.S. Right Wing as late as the early 1990s.  In the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan, who told Archbishop Desmond Tutu that the dark-skinned majority of South Africa would have to wait for their rights, Reagan opposed divestment.  Yet, according to Tutu, divestment was crucial to ending Apartheid.  Hines also favored expanding roles for women in the church–including as lectors, as delegates to the General Convention, and as deacons, priests, and bishops.  He retired in 1974, just as the dispute over the ordination of women as priests became more of an issue.  Also, there were no female bishops in The Episcopal Church or the wider Anglican Communion until 1989.  for a few years after that the election and consecration of a female bishop was a major story in the ecclesiastical press.  As of 2018, however, it has become routine.  Hines also presided over the early stages of liturgical revision, early steps toward The Book of Common Prayer (1979), a volume objectionable to many conservatives at the time, as now.  Some of them found all or much of this change so offensive that they committed schism from The Episcopal Church.  Then many of them committed schism from each other, hence the confusing organizational mess that is Continuing Anglicanism in the United States.  Many of the allegedly theologically pure were apparently purer than others of their number.  Donatism ran amok and became cannibalistic.  (I, an ecclesiastical geek, have a long attention span and a tendency to pay attention to minor details, but even I find divisions in Continuing Anglicanism confusing.  Most of the divisions are over minor theological points, actually.  Collegiality, one of the great traditions of Anglicanism, is in short supply.)

Hines, invoking hindsight, was honest about the lofty goals and mixed legacy of the General Convention Special Program (GCSP), created in 1967.  The GCSP awarded grants, with the purpose of fostering racial justice, economic justice, and self-determination.  One of the conditions for a grant was not to advocate for violence.  The initial lack (in 1967-1970) of veto power by the local bishop was an especially controversial point.  In 1970 the establishment of that veto power, with a mechanism for overriding it, meant that no grants led to embarrassing headlines, as during the first three years of the program.  The GCSP, cut back in 1973, did not survive the 1970s.  After 1973, however, funding for work among Hispanics and Native Americans increased.  Nevertheless, the damage from 1967-1970 was done.  Many people had left The Episcopal Church in protest, and many parishes and some dioceses had, for a few years, withheld funding from the national church.

Hines, who understood that the institutional quest for justice was important than complacent, oblivious tranquility and internal reconciliation, retired three years early, in 1974.  He and Helen moved to North Carolina before relocating to Texas in 1993.  She, aged 85 years, died on May 17, 1996.  Our saint, aged 86 years, died in Austin on July 19, 1997.

The legacy of John Elbridge Hines should remind us of the moral necessity of applying Christian principles to pressing social issues, of creating justice, and of recognizing our individual, collective, and institutional complicity in injustice.  His legacy should also remind us that strong opposition to confronting injustice exists even within the church, and that doing the right thing will often come at a high cost.  We must still do the right thing, though.  The legacy of Bishop Hines should teach us these lessons.  Whether it does is up to us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE DAY OF PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK, ABBOT OF TOURS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS COLUMBA OF RIETI AND OSANNA ANDREASI, DOMINICAN MYSTICS

THE FEAST OF JOHN ELIOT, “THE APOSTLE TO THE INDIANS”

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSE HAWTHORNE LATHROP, FOUNDRESS OF THE DOMINICAN SISTERS OF HAWTHORNE

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant John Elbridge Hines,

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 Albert John Luthuli (July 21)   Leave a comment

Flag of South Africa 1994

Above:  The Flag of South Africa, 1994-Present

Image in the Public Domain

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ALBERT JOHN MVUMBI LUTHULI (1898-JULY 21, 1967)

Witness for Civil Rights in South Africa

Albert John Luthuli struggled for civil rights in South Africa.  His life typified the sage counsel of the father of the Reverend Doctor Vernon Johns (1892-1965), predecessor of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968), in Montgomery, Alabama:  when you see a good fight, get in it.

Our saint came from a Christian family.  His father, John Bunyan Lutuli, was a Seventh-day Adventist missionary.  Young Albert, born near Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), in 1898, lost his father to death in 1908.  Luthuli and his mother, Mtonya Gumede, moved to her hometown, Groutville, in Natal, our saint’s uncle, Martin Lutuli, was the chief of the Christian Zulus in the area.  Martin had ties to the U.S. Congregationalist mission in the province.  Mtonya, a washerwoman, helped to put her son through Adams College, the U.S. Congregationalist institution of higher learning at Adams, near Durban.  Luthuli, who had become a Methodist, joined the faculty.  He was one of three African instructors at Adams College.

Luthuli worked as an educator.  In 1927 the instructor married Nokukhanya Bhengu, also a teacher.  Our saint, who also encouraged missions, advocated for a liberal arts education (not just a technical one) for Africans.  He became the Secretary of the African Teachers Association in 1928 and the President thereof five years later.  Also in 1933 tribal elders asked Luthuli to succeed his uncle as chief.  He finally accepted the offer three years later, after much consideration.

Luthuli joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1945.  His roles and responsibilities in the organization increased until December 1952, when he became the President-General of the ANC.  His vocal opposition to Apartheid brought him into conflict with the national, White minority government.  Although that government had deposed him as chief in November 1952, he remained the de facto chief.  Upon the event of his dismissal as chief our saint issued a statement, “The Road to Freedom is Via the Cross.”  Luthuli was also a banned person from 1952 to 1956.  In 1956, after an ANC conference, the national government charged him and many others with treason.  A court acquitted everyone in 1961.  Luthuli, a banned person again from 1959 until his death, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960.  His journey to Oslo and back in 1961 was a brief respite from his enforced isolation.

Being a banned person took its toll on Luthuli.  He suffered from discouragement, high blood pressure, and a stroke.  He died near his home on July 21, 1967, after a train struck him.

In a scene from Cry Freedom (1987) White liberal newspaper editor Donald Woods (1933-2001) speaks with a member of the cabinet.  The government minister explains that he fears what might happen to White South Africans should Apartheid end.  I contend, however, that fear of the potential negative consequences of ceasing oppression is not a moral justification for continuing to oppress people.  In fact, persisting in oppression is counterproductive.  It is like being concerned about a pot of boiling water spilling out onto an oven range yet turning up the heat anyway.  That which we do to others, we do also to ourselves; this is a moral law of the universe.

Luthuli understood all this well.  His political involvement had its origin in his faith:

My own urge because I am a Christian is to get into the thick of the struggle with other Christians, taking my Christianity with me and praying that it may be used to influence for good the character of the resistance.

I wonder how that sounded to his oppressors, many of whom belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa, which quoted the Bible to defend Apartheid until 1992.  I wonder how Luthuli’s presence affected those who enforced his isolation.  I wonder how the work of enforcing that isolation damaged the souls of those who engaged in it.  In the case of oppression there are oppressors and victims–and only victims, for nobody can oppress another without harming himself or herself spiritually.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GENE BRITTON, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF CESAR CHAVEZ, LABOR UNION LEADER

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

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Eternal God, we thank you for the witness of Chief Luthuli, Nobel Laureate for Peace,

who was sustained by his Christian faith as he led the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa.

Strengthen us, after his example, to make no peace with oppression and to witness boldly for

our Deliverer, Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Numbers 20:9-11

Psalm 122

Ephesians 2:12-17

John 16:25-33

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 479

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