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Feast of Lyman Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Henry Ward Beecher (July 1)   1 comment

Above:  A Partial Beecher Family Tree

Image by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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LYMAN BEECHER (OCTOBER 12, 1775-JANUARY 10, 1863)

U.S. Congregationalist and Presbyterian Minister, and Abolitionist

father of

HARRIET ELIZABETH BEECHER STOWE (JUNE 14, 1812-JULY 1, 1896)

U.S. Novelist, Hymn Writer, and Abolitionist

sister of

HENRY WARD BEECHER (JUNE 24, 1813-MARCH 8, 1887)

U.S. Presbyterian and Congregationalist Minister, and Abolitionist

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A FAMILY STORY

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INTRODUCTION

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In The Episcopal Church July 1 is the Feast of Harriet Beecher Stowe, listed as a “Writer and Prophetic Witness.”  In Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), in which her feast debuted, and A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), the successor volume, the collect for her feast is:

Gracious God, we thank you for the witness of Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose fiction inspired thousands with compassion of the shame and sufferings of enslaved peoples, and who enriched her writings with the cadences of The Book of Common Prayer.  Help us, like her, to strive for your justice, that our eyes may see the glory of your Son, Jesus Christ, when he comes to reign with you and the Holy Spirit in reconciliation and peace, one God, now and always.  Amen.

The assigned readings in Holy Women, Holy Men (2010) are Isaiah 26:7-13, Psalm 94:16-23, 1 Peter 3:1-12, and Matthew 23:1-12.  A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016) provides more options.

One cannot tell the story of Harriet Beecher Stowe properly without considering her relatives, however.  Thus, here in my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, I expand the feast to include her father (Lyman) and one of her brothers (Henry Ward).

The 1962 edition of The Encyclopedia Americana, an essential source for this post, includes an article for the Beecher family plus an article each for Lyman, Harriet, and Henry Ward, as well as for four other Beechers, all children of Lyman.  Very quickly then, and for the sake of thoroughness, he other four are:  Catharine Esther Beecher (1800-1878), Edward Beecher (1803-1895), James Chaplin Beecher (1828-1886), and Thomas Kinnicutt Beecher (1824-1900).

Catharine Esther Beecher (September 6, 1800-May 12, 1878) was an educator.  She operated a girls’ school in Hartford, Connecticut, from 1824 to 1832, and another one (with Harriet’s help) at Cincinnati, Ohio, from 1832 to 1837.  Catharine also helped to organize the Ladies Society for Promoting Education in the West, which founded schools in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois.  She was also a vocal opponent of the Jacksonian policy of Indian Removal.

Edward Beecher (August 27, 1803-July 28, 1895) became a Congregationalist minister, seminary professor and president, writer, and missionary.

James Chaplin Beecher (January 8, 1828-August 25, 1886) also became a Congregationalist minister.  He, a chaplain in Hong Kong prior to the U.S. Civil War, served the Union cause first as a chaplain and finally as a brevet brigadier general.  After the war he returned to parish ministry.

Thomas Kinnicutt Beecher (February 10, 1824-March 14, 1900), brother of James Chaplain Beecher and half-brother of Catherine Esther Beecher, also became a Congregationalist minister.  He was also a U.S. Army chaplain during the Civil War, a philanthropist, a lecturer, and an author of juvenile stories.

The Beechers were a remarkable family.

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LYMAN AND ROXANA

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Lyman Beecher, born in New Haven, Connecticut, on October 12, 1775, became the patriarch of an influential family.  His father was a blacksmith.  At the age of 18 years Lyman matriculated at Yale College.  After graduating in 1797, he studied theology privately under the tutelage of President Timothy Dwight until 1798.  That year Lyman became the supply pastor of a Congregationalist church at East Hampton, Long Island; there he remained until 1810.  Our saint, ordained in 1799, preached the funeral for Alexander Hamilton in 1804.

Lyman married three times. His first wife was Roxana Foote (d. September 24, 1816) who operated a girls’ school.  He was also the mother of Catharine Esther (b. 1800), Edward (b. 1803), Harriet (b. 1812), and Henry Ward (b. 1813), among others.  The birthplace of the last two Beechers listed was Litchfield, Connecticut.

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RAISING A FAMILY AND FIGHTING UNITARIANISM

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Lyman’s second wife was Harriet Porter, with whom he had more children, including James Chaplin (b. 1828) and Thomas Kinnicutt (b. 1824).  He had thirteen children, eleven of whom lived to adulthood.  Harriet was child number six; Henry Ward was child number seven.

Harriet Elizabeth Beecher (1812-1896), after her mother died in 1816, grew up in the household of her grandmother in Guilford, Connecticut, for some years.  Harriet was back in Litchfield by her late childhood.  There, at the age of 12 years, she wrote an essay on the topic, “Can the Immortality of the Soul Be Proved by the Light of Nature?”  She answered in the affirmative.  Her father, who argued to the contrary, found her essay impressive.  Harriet continued her education at the girls’ school her sister Catharine had founded and operated at Hartford.  Then Harriet joined the faculty there.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) studied at the Boston Latin School then at Mount Pleasant School, Amherst, Massachusetts, before matriculating at Amherst College (Class of 1834).  He was well on his way to becoming a prominent minister.

Lyman, active in campaigns against intemperance, also organized Bible and missionary societies.  In 1826 he left Litchfield, Connecticut, to become the pastor of Hanover Street Church, Boston, Massachusetts, and to inveigh against the rising tide of Unitarianism.  He remained in Boston until 1832.

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ABOLITIONIST ACTIVISM

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Lyman accepted the presidency of Lane Theological Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1832.  He remained in that post (as well as that of Chair of Sacred Theology) for 20 years.  Those were decades filled with controversies both theological and political.  For the first of the two decades Lyman also doubled as the pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati.

Also in 1832, Catharine and Harriet moved to Cincinnati, where they spent a girls’ school, which they operated for five years.

In 1833 a controversy over abolitionism almost destroyed Lane Theological Seminary.  Certain slaveholders from Kentucky eve threatened violence.  The crisis resulted in a gag order (passed by trustees) and an exodus of antislavery students to the new Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, founded at that time.  Some antislavery students returned to Lane, and Lyman and Calvin E. Stowe spent the better part of two decades trying to rebuild the seminary.

Stowe became Lyman’s son-in-law in 1836, when he married Harriet.  The home of Calvin E. and Harriet Beecher Stowe at Cincinnati was a station of the Underground Railroad.  In 1850 Calvin accepted a faculty position at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine.  Then he taught at Andover Theological Seminary from 1852 to 1864. Harriet was a prolific writer, with more than 40 titles to her credit.  Her most famous and influential work was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published as a serial in 1851 ad 1852.

Lyman was a New School Presbyterian.  The conflict between the Old School and the New School divided the original Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (reorganized from the old Synod of New York and Philadelphia in 1789) in 1837 and 1838.  Before then, however, it led to a heresy trial for Lyman in 1835.  The verdict was in his favor.

To Lyman’s left was his seventh child, Henry Ward, who studied at Lane Theological Seminary after graduating from Amherst College in 1834.  As the author of the article about Henry Ward in the 1962 edition of The Encyclopedia Americana wrote, the son objected to his father’s

sulfurous theology.

Henry Ward, editor of an abolitionist newspaper in Cincinnati in 1837, married Eunice White Bullard (1812-1897) that year.  From 1837 to 1839 he was pastor of a church in rural Lawrenceburg, Indiana.  Then, form 1839 to 1847, he was the senior pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana, a large congregation.  From 1847 to 1887 Henry Ward was the senior pastor (and first pastor) of Plymouth Congregational Church, Brooklyn, New York, which grew into a larger church.  Henry Ward, who emphasized the love, not the judgment, of God, was, according to Mark A. Noll,

the Billy Graham of his era.

America’s God:  From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (New York:  Oxford University Press, 2002), 427

Henry Ward Beecher, although a moderate abolitionist, was, in some ways, still revolutionary.  He preached against slavery and quoted the Bible while doing so, but argued that a Sharps rifle was more persuasive to many slaveholders.  Thus, in the middle and late 1850s, as Kansas bled amid vigilante violence, Henry Ward raised funds to equip antislavery settlers with Sharps rifles, which became know as “Beecher’s Bibles.”  Henry Ward, unambiguous in his support of the Union cause during the Civil War, went so far as to place, in his words, the “whole guilt” for that war on Confederate leaders in 1865.

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REST IN PEACE, LYMAN BEECHER

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Lyman retired to Boston, Massachusetts, in 1852.  His last years were difficult, for what the author of the article about him in the 1962 edition of The Encyclopedia Americana called

paralysis of the brain

overtook the great man.  In other words, he suffered from dementia–perhaps Alzheimer’s Disease.  Lyman died in Brooklyn on January 10, 1863.  He was 87 years old.

The author of that article praised Lyman’s scholarship, oratory, and theological orthodoxy while noting the great man’s “humorous audacities of speech” and “racy and picturesque wit” that “often shocked dignified propriety.”  Lyman Beecher must have been an interesting and wonderful man to know.

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THE BILLY GRAHAM OF HIS ERA

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Henry Ward Beecher was, according to some, a heretic.  (Then again, who is not?)  He emphasized the love of God and rejected penal substitutionary atonement.  The deity of that theory, he argued, was

barbaric, heinous, and hideous.

Henry Ward seems to have become more radical with age, going so far as to support women’s suffrage and argue that Christianity and Evolution were mutually compatible.  While opposing slavery he had already employed an argument against the verbal inspiration of the Bible, a volume many supporters of the Peculiar Institution of the South quoted chapter and verse.  Furthermore, Henry Ward vigorously opposed the nativist politics of Chinese exclusion, failing in preventing yet at least delaying the passage of that law until 1882.  Our saint, a member of the Republican Party since 1854 (the year of its founding), caused quite a controversy when he campaigned and quoted for Democrat (Stephen) Grover Cleveland for President in 1884.

Henry Ward was a prolific writer.  His published works included volumes of prayers and sermons.  In 1855 he edited the Plymouth Collection of Hymns, an influential hymnal.  From 1861 to 1863 Henry Ward edited the Independent.  In 1870 he founded the Christian Union, which he edited until 1881.  Our saint also wrote the Life of Jesus the Christ.

Yet Henry Ward Beecher was, in some ways, a troublesome figure.  He was, for example, a Social Darwinist.  Philandering was also a motif in his life.  The latter damaged his reputation at the end of his life.  In 1875 Henry Ward went on trial for having allegedly committed adultery with Elizabeth Tilton, the wife of Theodore Tilton, his successor as editor of the Independent.  The court acquitted Henry Ward and the leadership of Plymouth Congregational Church supported him, but he lost much credibility and public influence in the national scandal.

Henry Ward Beecher died in Brooklyn on March 8, 1887.  He was 73 years old.

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THE STOWES

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Harriet Beecher Stowe and Calvin E. Stowe kept a winter home near Jacksonville, Florida, from 1867 to 1884.  They helped to convince the Freedmen’s Bureau to establish a school for former slaves in the area.  The family also helped to found the Episcopal Church of Our Savior, for African Americans.  The Stowes, once Presbyterians, ended their days as Episcopalians.

After Calvin died on August 22, 1886, Harried moved in with daughters in Hartford, Connecticut.  Her twilight years were like those of her father–beset with dementia.  It was a cruel fate for such a great woman.  She died on July 1, 1896, aged 84 years.

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CONCLUSION

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The legacies of Lyman Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Henry Ward Beecher have enriched the United States and the world.  In the case of Harriet, Uncle Tom’s Cabin has certainly echoed down the corridors of time–more prominently than her excellent hymns, for sure.  These saints, like all of us, had shortcomings, but their virtues outweighed their vices.  Their virtues contributed to the end of chattel slavery in the United States of America.

That is impressive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 24, 2018 COMMON ERA

GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE

THE FEAST OF SAINT EGBERT OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND SAINT ADALBERT OF EGMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

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

THE FEAST OF SAINT MELLITUS, BISHOP OF LONDON AND ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY

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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 servants

Lyman Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Henry Ward Beecher,

to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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The Definite Article   Leave a comment

Above:  The

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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One should use the definite article (the) cautiously.  I argue this point, for I prefer to speak and write accurately.  I also like for others to do the same.  The misuse of “the” renders one’s argument objectively false by overstating one’s case.  Such shoddy discourse annoys me.

As I have noticed, many college students have been (and are) overly found of “the.”  During my years of teaching U.S. history survey courses in college, I have emphasized the fact that many colonists in what became the United States remained loyal to the British Empire during the American Revolutionary period.  In stating this plainly I have manifested fidelity to objective reality.  I have also instructed pupils both orally and in writing not to write of “the colonists” as if all colonists were of one political mind and warned these students.  Nevertheless, many students have not heeded my instructions to write of the past accurately in their essays.  I have graded those essays accordingly.

Another fault of misusing “the” is applying it in the spirit of invective.

The ______s insert negative stereotype here.

Infamously, for example, the Gospel of John mentions “the Jews” (in most English-language translations), although the Greek word is actually a geographical term sometimes.  Whether the term should be “the Jews” or “the Judeans” in English in any given verse, the issue of invective remains.  In the case of the Gospel of John, how can one avoid reading those passages without considering the millennia of Christian anti-Semitism inspired partially by the invective in that text?

In 2017 we continue to have problems with invective, often expressed with the misuse of the definite article.  Human nature is constant, after all.  One might engage in partisan invective, for example.  Or one might be a racist or some other variety of bigot, perhaps with regard to religion.  Or maybe one might be merely an unrepentant ethnocentrist and Nativist.  Either way, one engages in stereotyping, thereby overlooking the diversity inherent in any population.  One therefore engages in the sin of judging others.  One also makes objectively false statements.

Shall we strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and to think, speak, and write objectively correctly?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 27, 2017 COMMON ERA

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Against Xenophobia and Other Sins   4 comments

Above:  Superman on Diversity, 1949

Confirmed here:  http://www.snopes.com/superman-1950-poster-diversity/

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I tend not to be shy about expressing myself on my weblogs.  Usually I make comments in the context of a particular saint, some passage of scripture, or a theological or ethical principle that comes to mind because of that saint or scripture.  This post belongs to a different category–thoughts that simply occupy my mind.

Xenophobia, nativism, racism, and homophobia are sins.  They violate the highest principles of ethical monotheism and the ideals of the United States, as well as mere human decency.  These four sins are also endemic in human history and current events.  Holding up ideals is far easier than living according to them, after all.  Fear–not the variety that prevents one from touching a hot stove, but the sort that leads to hatred and flows from misunderstanding–is ever with us.  It leads us to deny our fellow human beings the civil rights God has granted them.  Even worse, we frequently engage in these sins while justifying them with religion.

May we respect the image of God in each other.  May we love one another as we love ourselves.  May we eschew bigotry.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2017 COMMON ERA

Posted April 18, 2017 by neatnik2009 in Language, Political Statements 2017

Tagged with , , ,

Feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (November 12)   Leave a comment

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Above:  St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT FRANCES XAVIER CABRINI (JULY 15, 1850-DECEMBER 22, 1917)

Founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart

Her feast transferred from November 13

Francesca Savierio Cabrini, born at Sant’Angelo, Lodigiano, Italy, on July 15, 1850, became a great champion of emigrants and immigrants.  She, the youngest of thirteen children, grew up on a farm and trained at a convent to become a teacher.  At the age of 18 years she tried to become a nun, but her health prevented that effort from succeeding.  Our saint taught at the House of Providence Orphanage for girls (closed in 1880) at Cadogono, Italy, for six years.  Finally, in 1877, she was able to take her monastic vows.  Three years later Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, dedicated to the care of poor children in schools and hospitals.

Our saint aspired to become a missionary to Asia, as St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) had done.  Pope Leo XIII (reigned 1878-1903) had another idea, however.  He sent her and six other members of the order to the United States, where an influx of Italian immigrants had led U.S. Roman Catholic bishops to request priests and religious from Italy.  Italian immigrants were a despised population for a set of reasons:

  1. Most of them were Roman Catholics.  The United States was a predominantly Protestant nation-state in which anti-Roman Catholicism was endemic and accepted.  In various states in the late 1800s Blaine Amendments to constitutions prohibited the granting of public funds to parochial schools.  The real target was Catholic schools, although the wording of the amendments applied to institutions of other denominations, ironically.  And in 1884, at a rally for James G. Blaine, the Republican presidential nominee, a Presbyterian minister stated that Blaine would save the United States from the Democrats, the party of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion,” a reference to, in order, alcohol, Roman Catholicism, and the Civil War.  Blaine was almost certainly unaware of that remark in real time, but his support for the failed federal constitutional Blaine Amendment that inspired state constitutional amendments made criticisms of him for being anti-Roman Catholic seem not unreasonable.
  2. Most of Italian immigrants were also poor.  They competed with others, including many native-born Americans, for low-paying jobs.  Economic insecurity has frequently contributed to opposition to immigration.
  3. They spoke Italian and needed to learn English.  This was easier for some than it was for others.  With the issue of language came the related issue of the culture the tongue from the old country carried.  This was a point of controversy with regard to more than one ethnic group (i.e, Danes, Norwegians, Germans, Swedes) in the United States in previous generations.  [Aside:  It remains one today, mostly with regard to Hispanics.  The other groups assimilated, as many Hispanics are doing.  This year, for example, I have heard news stories about politicians having to appeal to Hispanic voters who do not speak Spanish.]
  4. Nativism and xenophobia have never ceased to exist in the United States, a country of immigrants and descendants thereof, since the founding of the republic.  They have fed off the fact that immigration alters the country’s demographics, a reality that has proven frightening in the U.S.A. since the late 1700s.  This has been evident in, for example, the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798), the existence of the American Party (1843-1856), and the federal immigration law of 1924.  [Aside:  One can find evidence of nativism and xenophobia in contemporary social media and politics in many nation-states quite easily in 2016.]

Cabrini and her six companions arrived in New York City in 1889.  Their first convent, if one could call it that, was a tenement unfit for human habitation.  Archbishop Michael Corrigan, who initially thought this mission to slum-dwelling immigrants unsafe for the women, ordered them to return to Italy.  Cabrini replied that Pope Leo XIII outranked him.  In time the archbishop an advocate for and benefactor of the sisters’ work among the slum-dwelling immigrants.  Cabrini remained in the United States for the rest of her life and became a naturalized citizen.  She died of malaria at Chicago, Illinois, on December 22, 1917.  She was 67 years old.  Our saint was responsible for the existence of 67 institutions–schools, hospitals, and orphanages–in Europe, North America, and South America.

The Roman Catholic Church moved relatively rapidly to recognize Cabrini formally.  Pope Pius XI declared her a Venerable in 1937 and a Blessed the following year.  Then, in 1946, Pope Pius XII canonized her.

Cabrini is the patron of emigrants, immigrants, orphans, hospital administrators, and victims of malaria.  Her life invites to consider those who are vulnerable and those who are foreign to us.  They bear the image of God also, her life reminds us.  Will we act accordingly?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

PROPER 15:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM CROFT, ANGLICAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, EPISCOPAL SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF MATTHIAS CLAUDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

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

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

Through us give hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the troubled, and rest to the weary,

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

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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God our Father,

you called Frances Xavier Cabrini from Italy

to serve the immigrants of America.

By her example teach us concern for the stranger,

the sick, and the frustrated.

By her prayers help us to see Christ

in all the men and women we meet.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Christian Prayer:  The Liturgy of the Hours (1976), page 1318

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