Archive for the ‘Racism’ Tag

Anti-Intellectualism and Right-Wing Populism   1 comment

Truthiness, Alternative Facts, and Damn Lies

Stephen Colbert, during his years of hosting The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, spoke, in the character of a composite of most of the on-air talent at the FOX News Channel of “truthiness,” defined as

the quality or seeming or feeling true, even when being false.

“Truthiness” is the quality of anti-intellectualism, of the distrust of expertise and reference works.  Objective reality, the character of Stephen Colbert said on October 17, 2005, is

all fact and no heart.

The television persona of Colbert rejected objective reality.

Objectively, surveys revealed that more self-described conservatives than self-described liberals did not get the joke.  More self-described conservatives than self-described liberals failed to realize that Colbert was playing a character.

That which Colbert said in political satire has become the governing strategy of the Trump Administration.  One may recall that, in early 2017, Kellyanne Conway used a now-infamous term:

alternative facts.

Her boss is a proponent and purveyor of alternative facts, half-truths, conspiracy theories, and what Samuel L. Clemens called

damn lies.

Anti-intellectualism is a political and religious tradition in the United States and elsewhere.  (Traditions are, by definition, old, so I choose not to call anti-intellectualism an “old tradition.”)    Related to anti-intellectualism is another tradition, distrust of science.  I trust science and consider myself an intellectual, of course.  Another cousin, so to speak, is the distrust of expertise.  I like experts, people who have read, studied, researched, et cetera.  They are well-informed, by definition.  I do not pretend that they are infallible, but I trust them before I trust an uninformed person on the street.  If that makes me an elitist, so be it.

Right-wing populism embraces truthiness and alternative facts as it rejects intellectualism, expertise, and science.  This tendency is proving deadly during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Wearing masks in public and maintaining social distancing should NOT be controversial, but they are.  The Coronavirus will not vanish one day, magically.  No, it will remain with us for a very long time.  The Bubonic Plague still exists, but how often does it become a news story?  COVID-19 will eventually join the ranks of generally contained diseases that break out here and there, now and again, with limited effects.  We will get to that day sooner rather than later by acting responsibly, both collectively and individually, and by trusting that people who study this disease know more about it than people who do not.

Unfortunately, as human psychology proves, ego defense mechanisms are generally impervious to objective reality.  The least effective way to convince one to change one’s mind may be to present objective information, especially if one’s ego is invested in an erroneous belief.  Consider opposition to vaccination, O reader.  I understand why, centuries ago, when vaccination was new, that many people feared it.  However, given that vaccination has proven effective, fear of it is irrational and contrary to objective reality.

Aside:  I report that the worst reaction I had to an immunization was the exception to the rule.  My standard reaction is none, except for momentary discomfort; I despise needles.  I recall, however, that I passed out momentarily once.  On the other hand, I got a piece of chocolate, so I cannot complain.

This pandemic presents people with a choice:  Behave responsibly and reject misinformation or embrace conspiracy theories and racist, nativistic, xenophobic, and objectively false statements and those who peddle them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

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Remaining Positive and Focused on the Morally Justifiable   Leave a comment

Above:  The View from the Camera Built Into a Computer on my Desk, June 14, 2020

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We live in times of rapid social and political change.  Change–even that which is morally proper–causes disorientation and disturbance.  Sometimes we ought to be disturbed.  Injustice ought to disturb us. The root word of “conservative” is “conserve.”  Whether one’s conservatism is morally defensible depends on what one seeks to conserve.  Sometimes one should conserve x.  In certain times, reform is proper.  On other occasions, however, only a revolution is morally defensible.  Yet, even in those cases, nobility must extend beyond the cause and encompass the methods, also.

Call me politically correct, if you wish, O reader.  Or call me a radical or a fool.  If you call me a radical and a revolutionary for justice, I will accept the compliment.  I support what Martin Luther King, Jr., called

a moral revolution of values.

I favor the building of a society in which people matter more than money and property.  I favor social and political standards that brook no discrimination and bigotry while granting violators of those standards the opportunity to repent.  I favor altering society and institutions, inculcating in them the awareness that keeping some people “in their place,” that is, subordinate, underpaid, poorly educated, et cetera, harms society as a whole.  I support building up the whole, and individuals in that context.  I oppose celebrating slavery, discrimination, racism, and hatred, whether past or present.  I stand (socially distanced and wearing a mask, of course) with all those, especially of the younger generations, who are rising up peacefully for justice.  The young will, overall, have an easier time adapting to morally necessary change than many members of the older generations will, no matter how devout and well-intentioned many older people may be.  To quote a cliché,

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

St. Paul the Apostle offered timeless advice for confronting evil:

Do not be mastered by evil, but master evil with good.

–Romans 12:21 (The New Jerusalem Bible, 1985)

May all who seek a more just society pursue that goal with shrewdness, courage, and goodness.  To create a better society without incorporating goodness into methodology is impossible, after all.  May all who reshape society remain positive and focused on the morally justifiable.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN ELLERTON, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CARL HEINRICH VON BOGATSKY, HUNGARIAN-GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF DOROTHY FRANCES BLOMFIELD GURNEY, ENGLISH POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDELINUS OF VAUX, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; SAINT AUBERT OF CAMBRAI, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT URSMAR OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MISSIONARY BISHOP; AND SAINTS DOMITIAN, HADELIN, AND DODO OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS

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To Be Clear   Leave a comment

Shalom in Hebrew

Above:  Shalom in Hebrew

Image in the Public Domain

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Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.

–The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Riverside Church, New York, New York, April 4, 1967

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To be clear, I stand, without reservation, against police brutality, systemic racism, individual racism, the militarization of police forces, needless violence, and all excuses that cover up for not opposing and correcting these offenses against human dignity.  I also oppose all political dog whistles (mainly, appeals to law and order) that distract while they favor unjust order over social justice.  Furthermore, I oppose the use of force against peaceful protesters.  That unjust, oppressive, and repressive law-and-order “desert called peace” (as Tacitus referred to the Pax Romana) is NOT shalom.  It is not, in civil rights terms, beloved community.

I also understand that institutions infected with injustice change only when people force them to do so.  Society is people.  It shapes its members, who have the power to change it.

I favor a just social order.  I favor wise and necessary systemic reform.  I favor spiritual renewal, which must go hand-in-hand with the first two points.  I recognize that sin, guilt, reward, and punishment are both individual and collective.

I, as a self-respecting white liberal, also refuse to tell my brothers and sisters of color how they should feel regarding any matter related to racism.  I do not know how they feel.  I have not experienced what have experience and continue to experience.  I refuse to lecture them.  Instead, I listen to them and learn from them.  I respect them so much that I refuse to do otherwise.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 9, 2020 COMMON ERA

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This is post #2100 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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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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Governance and Rhetoric, Responsible and Irresponsible, in the Age of COVID-19   Leave a comment

The following statement should never be controversial, but it is, unfortunately.

NO PUNDIT OR PUBLIC OFFICIAL SHOULD CONTRADICT THE BEST EVIDENCE OF MEDICINE AND PUBLIC HEALTH DURING THIS PANDEMIC.

Yet some do.  This week, a Congressman from Alaska, addressing elderly people, dismissed Coronavirus as a “beer virus.”  Donald Trump, after having initially dismissed the threat of COVID-19, has continued to contradict medical and public health experts and to lie about related matters, from treatments to his own documented track record.  He knew about the threat in January and February, but dismissed it.  Recently, however, he has insisted that he has always taken the threat seriously.

As John Adams said during a trial in the 1770s,

Facts are stubborn things.

This is especially true in times of recording technology.

Besides, what passes for Trump’s character is unseemly, racist, nativistic, xenophobic, and unfit for public office, especially during a crisis.  He likes to claim credit for what he has not done and to evade responsibility for what he has done.  He dislikes objective reality, fosters a cult of personality, thinks that people should be loyal to him (not the United States and its Constitution), prefers dictators to democratic leaders, and encourages objectively false conspiracy theories.  The man is a threat to the United States of America and the world.  The Constitution works only when people in a position to make it work act to make it work.  I, a Consitutionalist, call upon people to act accordingly.

This is a time at which we Americans should be able to trust what the President of the United States says.  Unfortunately, we have Il Duce with bad hair.

I live in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, a unified government.  (The City of Athens merged with Clarke County.)  When Mayor Kelly Girtz releases a video message (available on YouTube), I believe him, for he bases his statements and decisions on objective reality.  The unified government is consulting medical and public health officials then taking their advice.  My local government is governing as it should–responsibly–during this pandemic.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

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Feast of Daniel G. C. Wu (April 6)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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DANIEL GEE CHING WU (OCTOBER 19, 1883-APRIL 6, 1956)

Chinese-American Episcopal Priest and Missionary

Born Wu Gee Ching

Sometimes listed as Daniel G. Ng Ping in contemporary sources

Father Daniel G. C. Wu comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church.  His propers are present in Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010) and A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).

Wu Gee Ching came to Christian faith via Episcopal deaconess Emma Drant, who went on to become his mentor in ministry.  Our saint, born in China on October 19, 1883, was working in Hawaii when he met Deaconess Drant.  She taught him English.  In return, he taught her Chinese.  Drant’s evangelism of Wu led him to baptism, as Daniel.

An especially nasty blend of racism, xenophobia, and nativism resulted in the Chinese becoming one of the most despised groups in the United States of America.  Many Chinese men had proven invaluable to the construction of the western portion of the first Transcontinental Railroad (completed in 1869).  Chinese immigrants did much to build the United States, literally.  Yet a series of Chinese Exclusion Acts severely curtailed Chinese immigration from 1882 to World War II.  Drant and Wu ministered to Chinese-Americans in the San Francisco Bay area in this cultural milieu.

Drant left for San Francisco, California, in 1905, to become a missionary to Chinese immigrants.  The Episcopal Church had been conducting missionary work among Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans for about a half-century by 1905.  Drant founded the True Sunshine Episcopal Mission (now Church) in 1905.  After the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, many Chinese Americans moved across the bay, to Oakland.  Drant founded a second mission, Our Saviour, in that city.  She asked Wu to join her in the San Francisco Bay area, to assist in the missions.

Wu arrived in 1907.  He stayed.  Our saint worked in the two missions as a layman, a seminarian (1909-1912), a deacon (1912-1913), and a priest (1913-1942).  Wu, a graduate of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, California, spent 36 years tending faithfully to the two flocks.  He also met new arrivals at docks and at ports of entry then helped them to adjust to life in North America.  Our saint, who rejected the “melting pot,” affirmed Chinese culture.  He taught English to immigrants so they could adapt to life in the United States.  He also taught Chinese to U.S.-born Chinese-American children.  Wu helped to build up and maintain the communities in which he served.  He also understood that the destruction of one’s culture harmed one.

Wu retired in 1942.

Our saint, aged 72 years, died in Colma, California, on April 6, 1956.  His wife, King Yoak Won Wu (1890-1982), and his daughter, Mary L. Wu Yue (1914-2006), survived him.

I have only one regret related to this post.  I wish I could find enough information about Deaconess Emma Drant to add her to this Ecumenical Calendar, too.

May we, as a society, and each of us, individually, welcome our neighbors from near, far away, and places in-between.  They bear the image of God.  Furthermore, hospitality to strangers is a biblical mandate.  May we banish racism, xenophobia, and nativism from the political and cultural mainstream forever and go about the work of loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.  May we remember that all people are our neighbors, as Jesus, our Lord and Savior, taught.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 17, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF AUGUST CRULL, GERMAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, POET, PROFESSOR, HYMNODIST, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANTONI LESZCZEWICZ, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS, 1943

THE FEAST OF JANINI LUWUM, UGANDAN ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP AND MARTYR, 1977

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

THE FEAST OF JOHN MEYENDORFF, RUSSIAN-FRENCH-AMERICAN ORTHODOX PRIEST, SCHOLAR, AND ECUMENIST

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We give you thanks, loving God, for the ministry of Daniel Wu,

priest and pioneer church planter among Asian Americans,

and for the stable worshiping communities he established,

easing many immigrants’ passage into a confusing new world.

By the power of your Holy Spirit, raise up other inspired leaders,

that today’s newcomers may find leaders from their diverse communities faithful to our Savior Jesus Christ;

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

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

Psalm 147:13-20

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

Mark 8:1-91

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 311

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Loving God, we give thanks for Daniel Wu and his work

among Chinese immigrants whose lives he touched in his day:

By the power of your Holy Spirit give to your Church compassion and respect for all people,

wherever they reside, that, inspired by your love,

every community might be filled with your wisdom

and call forth leaders to guide your flock in faithfulness to the Eternal Word, Jesus Christ;

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

A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016)

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Feast of Marian Anderson (February 29)   3 comments

Above:  Marian Anderson Performing at the Lincoln Memorial, 1939

Image in the Public Domain

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MARIAN ANDERSON FISHER (FEBRUARY 27, 1897-APRIL 8, 1993)

African-American Singer and Civil Rights Activist

Marian Anderson 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).

Anderson grew up in a devout Christian home.  She, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 27, 1897, was one of three daughters of Annie Delilah Rucker (1874-1964) and John Berkeley Anderson (c. 1872-1910).  Annie, who did not have a college degree, had taught in Virginia.  She could not teach in Pennsylvania, however; a state law barred African Americans (yet not whites) without a college degree from teaching.  So Annie took care of children for a living.  John sold coal and ice at the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia.  Eventually, he added another source of revenue–selling liquor.  The Andersons were active in Union Baptist Church, South Philadelphia.  All three daughters sang.  Our saint joined the church’s junior choir when she was six years old.  She joined the People’s Chorus in the city four years later.  Marian performed solos in both choirs.

Church and family helped Anderson achieve her potential.  Her father died when she was 12 years old.  Annie and the three daughters moved in with John’s parents.  In 1912 our saint graduated from Stanton Grammar School, but her family could not afford to send her to high school and to take music lessons.  Anderson’s church eventually paid for her to take music lessons and to attend South Philadelphia High School.  Our saint graduated in 1921.

Racism proved to be a professional obstacle for Anderson in the United States.  She, rejected from the Philadelphia Music Academy because of her skin color, studied music privately.  In 1925 our saint won a contest in New York Philharmonic sponsored.  The prize was a concert, at which she performed with the orchestra.  The date of that concert was August 26, 1925.  Anderson continued to study music privately.  She performed at Carnegie Hall for the first time in 1928.  Our saint’s career outside her native country was more successful than in the United States.  In 1937 she was in Princeton, New Jersey, to perform in Princeton, New Jersey.  When a hotel turned Anderson away because of her race, Professor Albert Einstein invited her to be his guest.  This was not the last time Anderson spent time with the Einstein family.

Perhaps Anderson’s most famous concert was her performance at the Lincoln Memorial, in 1939.  The Daughters of the American Revolution had denied our saint the opportunity to sing at Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.  First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt arranged for a larger, better venue instead.  Anderson finally sang at Constitution Hall in 1943.

Anderson was a trailblazer.  She performed the role of Ulrica in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City.  In so doing, our saint became the first African American to perform for that opera company.  The intensely patriotic vocalist, who entertained military personnel during World War II and the Korean War, also performed at President Dwight Eisenhower’s second inauguration (1957) and President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration (1961).  Eisenhower appointed Anderson to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (1958f).  Furthermore, our saint, active in the Civil Rights Movement, received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.

Anderson married architect Orpheus H. Fisher (1900-1986) on July 17, 1943.  She thereby became the stepmother of Fisher’s son, James.  Our saint, who lived on a farm near Danbury, Connecticut, from 1940 to 1992, retired on April 10, 1965, the date of her last performance at Carnegie Hall.

Anderson moved to Portland, Oregon, to reside with her nephew, James DePriest, a conductor in 1992.  She died in that city on April 8, 1993.  Our saint was 96 years old.

Anderson had a simple, non-judgmental faith she learned from her mother.  She trusted in God without condemning people whose theology differed from hers.  God, as our saint understood God, was loving and providential.

Marian Anderson’s life spanned decades of much cultural and legal change, especially regarding matters of race.  She helped to create some of that change; our saint did her part to leave the world and the United States of America better than they had been.  Events of the last few years have proven (as if anyone needed evidence) that any talk of the “death of racism” is ridiculous.

The work of fighting racism has fallen to those of us who still have pulses.  May we do our parts, so that those who follow us chronologically will have less work to do in this arena than they would otherwise.

I remember the casual racism around which I grew up.  My parents raised me to reject racism, but many people around me had a different attitude.  Seldom did any of these racists–classmates or some of my father’s parishioners, usually–bother to use code words in lieu of slurs.  I recall know that this language and the bias behind it were wrong.  Yet I also know that some of that racism rubbed off on me, as if by osmosis.  Some thoughts I know to be immoral occur sometimes.  Only God and I know when this happens, for I never express these thoughts.  No, I confess them to God and seek forgiveness.  I entertain the better angels of my nature.

The beginning of resisting racism in society, an institution, a community, et cetera, is choosing not to cave into it as it manifests withing oneself, unless one is a rare person who lacks any trace of racism.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILHELM WEXELS, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; HIS NIECE, MARIE WEXELSEN, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER; LUDWIG LINDEMAN, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN ORGANIST AND MUSICOLOGIST; AND MAGNUS LANDSTAD, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, FOLKLORIST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMNAL EDITOR

THE FEAST OF BRADFORD TORREY, U.S. ORNITHOLOGIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHANN GOTTFRIED WEBER, GERMAN MORAVIAN MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF JOHN WOOLMAN, QUAKER ABOLITIONIST

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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 Marian Anderson,

to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Chris, 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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Contemptible   Leave a comment

Donald Trump is contemptible.  His contempt for the freedom of the press is old news.  His racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and nativism are also old news.  Now they are fresh news because of some more tweets directed at women of color (almost all of them native-born citizens, so how can they go back where they came from?) who disagree with him.  Trump thinks that real Americans agree with and support him.  “Real Americans, ” then, are a minority population.

I know the feeling of hearing that I am allegedly not a real American–not a real patriot, at least.  As I have written at this weblog, the administration is not the nation-state.  There is a higher loyalty–adherence to the highest ideals, such as toleration of peaceful dissent.  Official violations of that high ideal in the United States is at least as old as the Sedition Act of 1798.  Political labeling of the other side as unpatriotic, un-American, et cetera, is both old and current.  It is especially rampant during wartime, when peace activists become targets of jingoisitic attacks.  I take great offense at all suggestions that my peaceful dissent makes me less American, un-American, less patriotic, or unpatriotic.

I am convinced that, if Trump thought Congress would pass a modern-day counterpart to the Sedition Act of 1798, which criminalized, among other things, criticism of the President, he would push for it then sign the bill into law.  (Trump does like dictators, after all.  Life for him would be easier if he were one.)  Lindsey Graham would vote for the bill, too.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 15, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Oh, the Irony!   Leave a comment

Chris Thile, host of Life from Here (formerly A Prairie Home Companion), said that the only soft and tender thing to come out of the City of New York was Donald Trump’s ego.  That soft and tender ego has long been on display.  Recently, when certain members of United States team at the Women’s World Cup expressed their opinions of him and said they would reject any invitation to visit the White House, the Big Blustery Baby criticized them for their lack of respect.  The irony was rich!  Trump has risen to high office primarily on his policy, which I summarize in the Anglo-Saxon expression,

Up yours.

No politician who builds campaigns on contempt (in Trump’s case, xenophobia, nativism, racism, et cetera) has a moral right to complain when people have contempt for him.  (Being the target of contempt comes with public office.  One who cannot stand the heat should stay out of the kitchen.  As Harry Truman said, anyone who wants a friend in Washington, D,C., should get a dog.) Trump could change his personality and respect people, but I am not holding my breath; I would die of asphyxiation.  He is reaping what he has sown and continues to sow.

I want the following statement to be clear:  I respect many people (including politicians) with whom I usually disagree.  I am a student of history; I respect many deceased people with whom I usually disagree.  Respect is something a person earns by having proper character.  As much as I have much respect for many people (living or deceased) with whom I usually disagree, I have little or no respect for many people (living or deceased) with whom I usually agree.  I strive to avoid being a partisan hack.

Here endeth the lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

Feast of John LaFarge, Jr. (November 24)   3 comments

Above:  Logo of the Society of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN LAFARGE, JR. (DECEMBER 13, 1880-NOVEMBER 25, 1963)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Renewer of Society

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The Negro brings to the Church something that is in danger of disappearing from its life in this country, and thereby putting American Catholicism out of touch with the rest of the great universal suffering world–a keen sense of social justice.

–Father John LaFarge, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 512

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Father John LaFarge, Jr., comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Ellsberg’s All Saints and G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

LaFarge, from a background of privilege, dedicated most of his adult life to resisting bigotry.  His mother was Margaret Mason Perry (1839-1925).  She, a convert to Roman Catholicism, had Isaiah Hecker (1819-1888) for a spiritual mentor.  Our saint’s father was John LaFarge, Sr. (1835-1910), a prominent painter and stained glass window maker.  Our saint, the youngest of eight children, entered the world at Newport, Rhode Island, on February 13, 1880.  John, Jr., a member of the Harvard University Class of 1901, studied for the priesthood in Europe.  There he joined the Society of Jesus (much to his mother’s dismay) and became a priest (ordained at Innsbruck, Austria) on July 26, 1905.

LaFarge understood the relationship between the gospel of Jesus Christ and social justice.  Early assignments included teaching at Jesuit colleges and assisting in parishes.  One assignment was as chaplain at the prison and hospital on Blackwell Island, New York, New York.  Later, our saint served in a mostly African-American parish in Leonardville, Maryland.  In 1924 he founded an industrial school for African Americans at Ridge, Maryland.  From 1926 to 1963 LaFarge worked at America magazine, a Jesuit publication.  In 1963, he, Dorothy Day, and others founded the Catholic Layman’s Union, which became the first Catholic Interracial Council of New York.  He traveled across the United States, speaking about social justice and encouraging the formation of similar organizations.  In 1938, Pope Pius XI asked LaFarge to draft an encyclical on racism.  Our saint completed the draft document, but Pius XI died in 1939, and Pope Pius XII shelved it, just in time for the Holocaust and World War II.

LaFarge, a pioneer for racial justice and opposition to anti-Semitism in U.S. Roman Catholicism prior to the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), understood that one one divine purpose for the human race was unity.  He, therefore, condemned anti-Semitism and racial segregation laws.  That concern for unity also led LaFarge to become a pioneer in the ecumenical movement.  Related to his concern for unity was support for constitutional government; our saint criticized his Church for hostility to constitutional governments and support for dictatorships and therefore for a dubious record on human rights.  He, an advocate for freedom of religion as a human right, lived long enough to learn of the introduction of the draft Declaration on Religious Freedom at Vatican II.

LaFarge, aged 83 years, died in his sleep in New York, New York, early in the morning of November 25, 1963.

Theological orthodoxy and social justice need not be at odds with each other.  Despite the long and shameful record of self-proclaimed orthodox Christians propping up sins such as Jim Crow laws, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, nativism, and the subordination of women, actual orthodoxy, with the Golden Rule as a constituent part, facilitates social justice and confronts institutions and proponents of oppression and hatred.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2019 COMMON ERA

MAUNDY THURSDAY

THE FEAST OF ROGER WILLIAMS, FOUNDER OF RHODE ISLAND; AND ANNE HUTCHINSON, REBELLIOUS PURITAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT CORNELIA CONNELLY, FOUNDRESS OF THE SOCIETY OF THE HOLY CHILD JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA ANNA BLONDIN, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT ANNE

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN ARCHUTOWSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1943

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant John LaFarge, Jr.,

through whom you 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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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,

and rest to the weary,

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

you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

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 John LaFarge, Jr., to work for justice among people and nations,

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

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

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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