Archive for the ‘Mutuality’ Tag

The COVID-19 Pandemic: Vaccines and Face Masks   10 comments

As an old saying goes, there is good news and there is bad news.  The COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate much of the world.  The United States of America is faring better than most nation-states, but a portion of our population eligible for vaccination refuses to get vaccinated.  I do not understand these people.  I do not want to understand these people.  The Biden Administration deserves high praise for taking the pandemic as seriously as is necessary and proper.  Leadership matters.

Given the recent changes in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding face masks, I have altered my habits slightly.  I, fully vaccinated, do not wear masks outdoors as often as I used to do.  If nobody else is around outdoors, for example, I wear no face masks.  I still wear two face masks outdoors sometimes, though.  And I still wear two face masks inside stores.  Children younger than twelve years old are not eligible for vaccination yet.  Many people who are at least twelve years old have medical conditions that mean they should not get vaccinated yet.  Mutuality guides my thinking.  We are all responsible to and for each other.  My rights stop at someone else’s nose, so to speak, just as the other person’s rights stop at my nose.  I accept my responsibility to protect not only myself but others.

The sooner more people accept their responsibility and act accordingly, the sooner this pandemic will end.  Then we can put away our face masks while obeying the demands of moral accountability to each other and God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 17, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Posted May 17, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Coronavirus/COVID-19

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Fully Vaccinated   10 comments

As of today, I am fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Today marks two weeks since I received the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  Until such time as I may need a booster dose, I am 95% protected.

I thank God that effective vaccines against COVID-19 exist.  I also thank God that all those who helped to make this possible did do.  And I thank God that all of we mere ordinary citizens who have become vaccinated have done so.  Public health experts consistently say that getting as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible is crucial to ending the pandemic.

Yet some people stick their proverbial heads into equally proverbial holes in the sand.  Some deny that the pandemic is real.  I recall an unpleasant encounter I had in August 2020, while working for the Census Bureau.

I was wearing a face mask, in accordance with Census Bureau policy.  It was a nondescript face mask.  I knocked on a door.  The man who opened the door was a far-right-wing conspiracy nut who told me that the face mask I wore “represented Satan.”  Neither did he want to answer any Census questions.

Some stick their proverbial heads into equally proverbial holes in the sand.  Some do this on the basis of misplaced distrust of expertise.  Experts in a field know more about that field than those who have not done what is necessary to become experts in that field.  Expertise deserves respect, not emotional and anti-intellectual misplaced populism.  The informed opinion of an expert should matter more than the uninformed opinion of a man or woman “on the street.”

Yes, I know that some vaccines carry temporary side effects.  The shingles vaccine, I hear, really does.  Yet the disease in question is worse than any side effects.  And many side effects are exceedingly rare.  Statistics should matter more than isolated anecdotes.  I report that I had soreness at the injection site for about 24 hours following my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.  I also report my side effects after the second dose.  I report that I had soreness at the injection site for about 48 hours, and that, on the day following that dose, I had to take an unplanned nap.

In an age of anti-intellectual, anti-science populism, anecdotes and half-baked memes cloud the thinking of many people.  This is extremely perilous during a pandemic.  Objective reality remains objective reality, even though many people do not believe in it.  The COVID-19 virus continues to mutate, as viruses do.  Speeding up the rate of vaccinations is crucial.  That is not all that is crucial.  We–governments, corporations, small businesses, communities, congregations, individuals, et cetera–all need to behave responsibly.  Policies need to be morally responsible and grounded in science.  I practice social distancing and wear two masks in public.  I may even wear two masks in public when doing so is not necessary.  If I err on the side of safety in this matter, so be it.  That is better than erring on the side of danger.

We all belong to God and each other.  Mutuality, built into the Law of Moses, informs my morality.  We are all responsible to and for each other.  And we are all accountable to God.  Wearing two face masks in public at this time is consistent with my interpretation of the Golden Rule.  And, during this pandemic, I accept temporary upper arm soreness and an unplanned nap as small prices to pay for acting according to the Golden Rule.  I refuse to be a selfish cry-baby.  Besides, COVID-19 is far worse than any temporary side effect of a vaccine.

Many people cannot get vaccinated yet.  Some have a medical reason.  Others are too young.  Others seek and cannot get an appointment.  Many people have difficulty getting to a vaccination site.  And other people live in places where no vaccine is available.  Those fortunate enough to be able to get an appointment, are old enough, have no medical reason not to get vaccinated, are legally eligible, and have yet to get vaccinated have a moral obligation to get vaccinated as soon as possible.  This is for the common good.

Despite being one of the fully-vaccinated people, I remain more comfortable worshiping in front of a computer screen, at least for a while.  My parish now offers two in-person worship services on Sunday mornings.  There are strict rules.  For example, attendees must register, masks are mandatory, and people are spaced apart.  Also, there is a limit on attendance at each service.  I feel less stress sitting alone in front of a computer monitor at home.  I can also say the Prayer of Spiritual Communion.  For a while yet, I will maintain a different type of social distancing while worshiping.

Yet knowing that have 95% protection reduces my pandemic stress load.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 26, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Feast of Juana Ines de la Cruz (November 12)   Leave a comment

Above:  Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz

Image in the Public Domain

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JUANA INÉS DE LA CRUZ (NOVEMBER 1648/1651-APRIL 17, 1694/1695)

Mexican Roman Catholic Nun, Composer, Writer, Philosopher, Feminist, and Alleged Heretic

Born Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramirez de Santillana

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Well-behaved women seldom make history.

–Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

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You foolish men, accusing women for lacking reason when you yourselves are the reason for the lack.

–Juana Inés de la Cruz, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 493

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Juana Inés de la Cruz comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Ellsberg, All Saints (1997).

Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramirez de Santillana made history and was not by the standards of her time and place, well-behaved.  She was an intellectual, a scientist, a mathematician, a philosopher, a musical composer, a poet, and a playwright.  Our saint was also a theologian.  She was the first great Latin American poet, too.  Our saint challenged the patriarchy and earned her bona fides as a feminist.  She was ahead of her time.

Juana was a Criolla, a mixed-race person mostly of Spanish ancestry.  She entered the world at San Miguel, Nepantia, near Mexico City, on November 12, 1648 or 1651.  Our saint’s father was Captain Pedro Manuel de Asbaje, a Spaniard.  Her mother was Isabel Ramirez, a Criolla.  The couple was unmarried.  Juana and Isabel lied on Isabel’s father’s hacienda.  Juana’s grandfather had a profound influence on her.  Our saint grew up devout and bookish.  She had an insatiable appetite for knowledge at a very young age.  Given that Juana’s culture forbade the formal education of girls and women, her education was entirely informal.  It began with her grandfather’s library.

Juana was an intelligent and well-educated young woman.  She read and wrote Latin when three years old.  She wrote a poem about the Eucharist when eight years old.  Our saint, who taught Latin at the tender age of thirteen years, also mastered Nahuati, the language of the Aztecs.  The sixteen-year-old Juana became a lady-in-waiting in the court of the Viceroy of New Spain.  When she was seventeen years old, she matched wits and intellects with the leading minds, theologians, and poets in New Spain, and astounded them.  Yet Juana, as a female, could not matriculate at the local university.

Juana needed to study, write, and think.  The prospect of marriage and motherhood did not appeal to her.  Therefore, the 19-year-old became a nun.  She left the Convent of Saint Joseph, of the Discaled Carmelites, after a few months.  Yet our saint found that she could maintain her library, keep her scientific instruments, and write to her content at the Convent of Saint Jerome, Mexico City.  She did, and the Viceroy and his wife ensured the publication of he writings in Spain.

Juana was not shy about expressing herself.  She confronted the patriarchy that denied women and girls access to formal education.  Neither was she reluctant to challenge male authority figures and question their orthodoxy.  In 1690. our saint critiqued a 40-year-old sermon by a famous preacher.  He was an idiot, she was certain.  So, she composed a scathing, detailed critique, probably the first theological work by a woman in the New World.  The Bishop of Puebla replied by affirming Juana’s orthodoxy yet arguing that theology was not women’s work.

Toward the end of her life, Juana went quiet in the face of the threat of the Inquisition.  In 1693, she ceased writing, sold her 4000-volume library and her scientific instruments, and gave the proceeds to the poor.  On April 17, 1694 or 1695, Juana died of plague at the convent.  She had contracted the plague while tending to other nuns, afflicted with it.

To keep a portion of the population “in its place” is to harm society.  Keeping others in “in their place” holds them back.  It also holds back those who keep them “in their place.”  Therefore, enlightened self-interest (if not the Golden Rule–imagine that!) leads to lifting up everyone and granting equality of access to formal education, et cetera.  Mutuality leads to each person having the opportunity to become the person God wants him or her to be.  This may not be the person social norms dictate him or her to become.  So be it.

Discrimination is insidious.  It harms everybody–the intended targets, these who commit it and consent to it passively, and all other members of society.  Where discrimination exists, there are only victims, some of whom double as victimizers.  Whatever one does to another, one does to oneself.

Some accused Juana Inés de la Cruz of being uppity and presumptuous.  They were wrong.  She was bold.  She was of her time and ahead of it.  And she deserved encouragement, not intimidation.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF TOYOHIKO KAGAWA, RENEWER OF SOCIETY AND PROPHETIC WITNESS IN JAPAN

THE FEAST OF JAKOB BÖHME, GERMAN LUTHERAN MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF MARTIN RINCKART, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA MARIA OF THE CROSS, FOUNDRESS OF THE CARMELITE SISTERS OF SAINT TERESA OF FLORENCE

THE FEAST OF WALTER RUSSELL BOWIE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, SEMINARY PROFESSOR, AND HYMN WRITER

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

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Juana Inés de la Cruz and all others]

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Obadiah Homes (October 15)   2 comments

Above:  United Baptist Church, Newport, Rhode Island

Image Source = Google Earth

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OBADIAH HOLMES, SR. (BAPTIZED MARCH 18, 1609 OR 1610-DIED OCTOBER 15, 1682)

English Baptist Minister and Champion of Religious Liberty in New England

Born Obadiah Hulme

The Reverend Obadiah Holmes, Sr., 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).

Many people accept a host of falsehoods about the history of the United States of America.  One of these lies is that most Puritans came to this country (when it was still a collection of British colonies) to practice religious freedom.  Shall I point to the numerous examples that prove the existence of Puritan theocracies in New England?  How about the four executed Quakers (link and link) in the Massachusetts Bay colony?  I point also to the cases of Roger Williams (1603?-1683) and Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643) and company, exiled for dissenting.  To that list I add the case of Obadiah Holmes, Sr.

Obadiah Hulme grew up in a devout Anglican family.  He, baptized on March 18, 1609 or 1610, in Didsbury, Lancashire, England, was a son of Katherine Johnson Hulme (d. 1630) and Robert Hulme (d. 1640).  Obadiah led a rebellious, wild youth.  After his spiritual awakening, his blamed himself for his mother’s death.  Our saint was, by profession, a weaver and a glass maker.  On November 20, 1630, at the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, St. Denys and St. George, Manchester (now Manchester Cathedral), he married Katherine Hyde.  The couple had nine children, starting with John, who died in 1633.  The other eight children (four sons and four daughters) were:

  1. Jonathan;
  2. Mary;
  3. Martha;
  4. Samuel;
  5. Obadiah, Jr.;
  6. Lydia;
  7. John (II); and
  8. Hopestill.

The growing Holmes family immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638.  They settled in Salem and joined the church there.  Obadiah worked as a glass maker.  He, finding the church in Salem too rigid, left and moved the family to Reheboth in 1645.  Reheboth proved unsatisfactory, too.  Obadiah and the eight other members of the church there split away (during a dispute over infant baptism) and formed a house church in 1649.  He became the minister of the new congregation.  According to the local court, the house church was illegal.  In 1650, Obadiah and the rest of his congregation moved to Newport, Rhode Island.  They affiliated with the First Baptist Church in that city.  This made sense; pastor John Clarke (1609-1676), of Newport, had rebaptized the members of the house church in 1649.

Rhode Island was rare in British North America; it had a policy of religious toleration.  First Baptist Church, Newport, was the second Baptist congregation in what became the United States of America.  John Clarke founded it in 1638, shortly after Roger Williams had founded the First Baptist Church, Providence.

John Clarke and John Crandall (1618-1676) of First Baptist Church, Newport, visited William Witten, an old blind man, in Lynn, Massachusetts Bay Colony, in July 1651.  Obadiah traveled with Clarke and Crandall to visit Witten.  The three visitors conducted a church service.  They celebrated communion and baptized converts.  Authorities arrested the three visitors.  The court convicted and fined them:

  1. John Crandall–five pounds, or about $984.15 (2021);
  2. John Clarke–twenty pounds, or about $3,939.37 (2021); and
  3. Obadiah Holmes–thirty pounds, or about $4,270.15 (2021).

The alternative was a severe whipping.  Nevertheless, Governor John Endecott considered that punishment lax; he claimed that the three men deserved to die.

Allies offered to pay the fines of all three men.  Crandall and Clarke accepted and returned to Newport.  Our saint, however, refused.  Therefore, he endured 30 strokes on his back.  For weeks, he had to sleep on his knees and elbows.  For the rest of his life, he called his scars “the marks of the Lord Jesus.”

Later in 1651, Clarke traveled to England, to serve as Rhode Island’s colonial agent.  Obadiah began to serve as pastor of First Baptist Church, Newport.  After Clarke returned, in 1664, the two men served as co-pastors (1664-1667, 1671-1676).  Our saint was pastor at Newport until he died, on October 15, 1682.

First Baptist Church, Newport, has become the United Baptist Church, John Clarke Memorial, Newport.

No freedoms are absolute in any society.  Mutuality requires that people be responsible to and for each other.  And it does not license trampling the rights of anyone.  Therefore, in the case of freedom of religion, some restrictions are necessary, in extreme cases.  When, for example, someone’s religion endangers public health, public health properly takes precedence.  Most circumstances are not extreme, though.  Living in a free society requires much mutual toleration, if not acceptance.  So be it.

All of the legal troubles Obadiah Holmes, Sr., endured in the Massachusetts Bay Colony were indefensible.  He was not endangering public health and safety.  He was not endangering anyone in any way.  No, he was defying a theocracy.  He refused to conform.

“Conform” and “conformity” are, by the way, the most profane words in the English language.  Mutuality embraces mutual responsibility and tolerates all dissent and individuality that does not endanger the common good.

I write in a politically divided society.  Labels such as “liberal” and “conservative” function as weapons to use against members of the other tribe.  Actually, many people who weaponize these terms strip these words of their real meanings, inherently relative to the center.  A better way (NOT original to me) is to ask whether one prioritizes order or justice.  Properly, of course, justice establishes a morally defensible order.  Likewise, order is necessary for justice, which cannot exist in the midst of anarchy.  Nevertheless, not all order is just.  In fact, much order is unjust.  And many people favor an unjust order over justice.  I favor justice every day.  Whenever a given order is unjust, I support tearing it down and replacing it with a just order.  Call me a revolutionary if you wish, O reader.

Obadiah Holmes, Sr., favored justice.  He worked for a just order.

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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O God, our light and salvation, who makes all free to worship you:

May we ever strive to be faithful to your call, following the example of Obadiah Holmes, Sr.,

that we may faithfully set our hands to the Gospel plow,

confident in the truth proclaimed by your Son Jesus Christ;

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

–Adapted from A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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O God our light and salvation, we thank you for Obadiah Holmes, Sr.,

whose visions of the liberty of the soul illumined by the light of Christ

made him a brave prophet of religious tolerance in the American colonies;

and we pray that we may follow paths of holiness and good conscience,

guided by the radiance of Jesus Christ;

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

1 Kings 17:1-16

Psalm 133

1 Peter 1:13-16

Luke 9:51-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 211

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Perilous Times   1 comment

Above:  Cain after Abel’s Murder

Image in the Public Domain

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A CALL FOR MUTUALITY IN SOCIETIES AND POLITICS

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“Am I my brother’s guardian?”

–Cain, to YHWH, in Genesis 4:9, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Principles matter.  One of these vital principles is the high value of human life.

Wishful thinking will imperil, not save, us from Coronavirus/COVID-19.  All of us–from average citizens to world leaders–must act for the common good.  Necessary and proper actions may be more than inconvenient; they may involve sacrifice.  Good choices are scarce at best and absent at worst these days.  Given bad options, individuals, families, communities, leaders, societies, et cetera, need to act according to the least bad options in a woefully imperfect world.  Perhaps, then, we will not make a bad situation worse, and may improve it, in time.

I lower the boom, rhetorically, on all irresponsible people.  These include politicians who contradict medical and public health experts who are following the data.  Governments must not, for example, ease restrictions prematurely.  To do so would make a bad situation worse.  These irresponsible people also include individuals who disregard social distancing rules and have “Coronavirus parties,” for example.  Other irresponsible people include college and university presidents and chancellors who permit students back on campus prematurely.

I understand the desire to return to life as it was.  That, however, is a form of wishful thinking.  Reality is harsh; we cannot return to life as it was.  Even after this pandemic has ended, we will not return to life as it was.  Whenever that time will arrive, may it find us–as individuals, families, communities, leaders, societies, et cetera–better than we were before the pandemic started.  May we think more about our responsibilities to and for each other, and how much we depend on each other and on God.  May we have a stronger sense that, when we keep any segment of the population “in its place,” we harm the whole.  May we be faster to eschew all bigotry, especially racism, xenophobia, and nativism, and to realize that we, as people, have more in common than not.  May we adjust our economies in ways that are necessary and proper to adapt to the new reality and to decrease poverty.  And may we, collectively, hold leaders and ourselves to a higher standard relative to the common good and replace those we ought to replace.

We all belong to God and each other, after all.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT DISMAS, PENITENT BANDIT

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https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2020/03/25/perilous-times/

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