Archive for the ‘Reinhold Niebuhr’ Tag

The Importance of Being Morally Fit for Triumph   1 comment

Above:  The Confession of Captain Benjamin Sisko in In the Pale Moonlight (1998)

A Screen Capture I Took Via PowerDVD

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Or, What Reinhold Niebuhr Has to Do With Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So… I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all… I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again, I would. Garak was right about one thing, a guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. So I will learn to live with it. Because I can live with it. I can live with it… Computer, erase that entire personal log.

–Captain Benjamin Sisko, In the Pale Moonlight (1998)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Recently I completed my rewatch of Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine (1993-1999), the best of the Star Trek series.  I had recorded most of the episodes from 1993 to 1999, but I had not sat down and watched the series from beginning to end, skipping certain really bad episodes.  DS9 was the last great Star Trek series–certainly heads and shoulders over Voyager (1995-2001) and Enterprise (2001-2005), two series notable for, among other faults, playing it safe and ignoring continuity much of the time.  DS9 did not play it safe, especially after its troubled first season.  The Dominion War arc certainly took the series into dark and morally ambiguous territory, only part of which I consider in this post.

The Neo-Orthodox theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), a Cold War liberal, had a strong moral compass and an awareness of human sinfulness.  He opened The Irony of American History (1952) with a statement of the possibility that the means by which the free world, led by the United States, might have to win the Cold War might leave the victors morally unfit to govern.  The use of atomic weapons would not only endanger civilization, kill many people,  and cause much physical destruction, he wrote, but lead to moral complications for the victors:

The victors would also face the “imperial” problem of using power in global terms but from one particular center of authority, so preponderant and unchallenged that its world rule would almost certainly violate basic standards of justice.

–Page 2

As Commander William Adama stated in Resurrection Ship, Part II (2006), an episode of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica (2003-2008),

It’s not enough to survive; one must be worthy of surviving.

In the story lines of Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine the Dominion War raged for years and endangered the great powers of the Alpha and  Beta Quadrants–the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, and the United Federation of Planets.  (Aside:  The scripts tended not to mention the Beta Quadrant, but, according to official Star Trek lore, the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, and much of the Federation were in the Beta Quadrant.)  Forces of the Dominion, an empire presided over by the shape-shifting Founders, fought to conquer the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.  The body counts were staggering and the Dominion seemed to be on the verge of victory.  Times were desperate.

In In the Pale Moonlight (1998) Captain Benjamin Sisko, with the approval of the Federation Council, conspired to trick the Romulan Star Empire into abandoning its non-aggression treaty with the Dominion.  The plan was to convince one Romulan senator, Vreenak, that the Dominion was plotting to invade the Romulan Star Empire.  There was no evidence of this, so Sisko, with Federation approval, arranged for the forging of evidence.  Certainly the Dominion would invade the Romulan Star Empire in time, given the nature of the Dominion and the Founders’ sense of superiority to solids.  Furthermore, the Federation needed for the Romulans to enter the war on its side.  Vreenak recognized the forgery as such, but Elim Garak, who hired the forger then killed him or had him killed, planted a bomb on Vreenak’s shuttle craft.  The leadership of the Romulan Star Empire blamed the Dominion for Vreenak’s death and declared war.  The Federation had a new ally.  Sisko admitted his crimes in private and confessed that he could live with his guilty conscience.

As I have pondered this episode and others, all the way through the end of the series, I have realized that, as the writers presented the story of the Dominion War, Sisko was correct; his crimes were necessary.  The Romulans were crucial to the defeat of the Dominion, after all.

In The Maquis, Part II (1994) Sisko analyzed the difficult situation of a group rebels-terrorists succinctly:

On Earth, there is no poverty, no crime, no war. You look out the window of Starfleet Headquarters and you see paradise. Well, it’s easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there in the Demilitarized Zone, all the problems haven’t been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints — just people. Angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with Federation approval or not!

However, later, in For the Uniform (1997), Sisko poisoned the atmosphere of  Maquis colony world and prepared to do the same to other Maquis colonies.  A vendetta against one Maquis leader, Michael Eddington, inspired this plan.

Above:  Dr. Julian Bashir Confronts Admiral William Ross in Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges (1999)

A Screen Capture via PowerDVD

Sisko, the greatest of all the Star Trek captains, did not live in paradise, neither was he a saint.  Neither was Admiral William Ross, as in Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges (1999).  In a story reminiscent of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold,  a great Cold War thriller, Admiral Ross plotted with Section 31, the Federation’s black operations agency that officially does not exist, to frame an innocent and  patriotic Romulan senator and thereby improve the political standing of a double agent.  After all, as Ross said in Latin, quoting Cicero,

In time of war the law falls silent.

Later in the series Dr. Julian Bashir, who takes his Hippocratic Oath seriously, learns that Section 31 was responsible for infecting the Founders of the Dominion with a fatal virus–that the Federation was responsible for attempted genocide.  The Federation, as Gene Roddenberry conceived of it in the 1960s, was a noble and idealistic organization.  DS9 did more to expose the dark underbelly of the Federation than did any other filmed incarnation of Star Trek.  DS9 gave us Section 31, for example.  The writers seemed to present Section 31 in such a way as to make plain its moral dubiousness as well as its practical necessity.

Roddenberry’s Federation is an analog for the United States of America, just as the Klingon Empire is an analog for the Soviet Union.  Thus, in Star Trek VI:  The Undiscovered Country (1991) the two powers begin to end their cold war.  Since the Federation stands in for the U.S.A., the moral questions the Federation faces during the Dominion War might remind one of morally questionable policies of the U.S. Government over time, especially in the context of the Cold War and events since September 11, 2001.   Overthrowing democratically elected governments that are merely inconvenient to U.S. business interests and installing military dictatorships that victimize their own citizenry for decades contradicts U.S. ideals, does it not?  Supporting brutal regimes–whether fascist or military dictatorships–because they are not communist should trouble one’s conscience, should it not?  Also, committing and condoning torture makes one morally unfit.  Whom would Jesus torture?  As Niebuhr reminds us down the corridors of time, we must be morally fit, not just victorious.

All of this brings me to a point:  How can we defend ideals that are in peril by violating those ideals?  We cannot, of course.  Yes, we might have to get our hands dirty, so to speak, but, if we get them too dirty, we compromise ourselves morally and render ourselves morally unfit to serve the interests of justice.   How we treat others is about our character, not theirs.  We may not live in paradise, but how close to the standard of sainthood can we live?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 17, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDITH BOYLE MACALISTER, ENGLISH NOVELIST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMILY DE VIALAR, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT JOSEPH OF THE APPARITION

THE FEAST OF JANE CROSS BELL SIMPSON, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS TERESA AND MAFALDA OF PORTUGAL, PRINCESSES, QUEENS, AND NUNS; AND SANCHIA OF PORTUGAL, PRINCESS AND NUN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2017/06/17/the-importance-of-being-morally-fit-for-triumph/

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin, Jr. (April 12)   3 comments

Above:  Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, 1910

Photograph copyrighted by Irving Underhill

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-74646

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

HENRY SLOANE COFFIN (JANUARY 5, 1877-NOVEMBER 25, 1954)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister, Theologian, and Hymn Translator

uncle of

WILLIAM SLOANE COFFIN, JR. (JUNE 1, 1924-APRIL 12, 2006)

U.S. Presbyterian Minister and Social Activist

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A FAMILY STORY

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If there is one characteristic more than others that contemporary public worship needs to recapture, it is the awe before the surpassing great and gracious God.

–Henry Sloane Coffin

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

God is to me that creative force, behind and in the universal, who manifests Himself as energy, as life, as order, as beauty, as thought, as conscience, as love.

–Henry Sloane Coffin

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

There are three kinds of patriots, two bad, one good.  The bad ones are the uncritical lovers and the loveless critics.  Good patriots carry on a lover’s quarrel with their country, a reflection of God’s lover’s quarrel with all the world.

–William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It is one thing to say with the prophet Amos, “Let justice roll down like mighty waters,” and quite another to work out the irrigation system.

–William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

With this post I replace two former posts with which I had become dissatisfied.  By telling the stories of Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin, Jr., together I also emphasize connections and relationships, one of my purposes in renovating my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  The Coffins, uncle and nephew, were prophetic figures who incurred much condemnation by fundamentalist Christians during their lifetimes.

Both Coffins continue to incur much condemnation by fundamentalist Christians, as a simple Internet search reveals.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Above:  Henry Sloane Coffin

Image in the Public Domain

Henry Sloane Coffin, born in New York City on January 5, 1877, came from a prominent family.  The family firm, W. & J. Sloane, sold upscale furniture and rugs.  It also became involved in real estate development and in low-income housing.  Attorney Edmund Coffin, Jr., and Euphemia Coffin had two especially noteworthy sons–Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin, Sr.  The latter of these men worked in the family firm, joined the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art in 1924, and became the board’s president seven years later.

Above:  William Sloane Coffin, Sr. (1879-1933)

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ggbain-25374

Henry grew up in New York City, in the lap of privilege and a corresponding sense of social responsibility.  He studied at Yale, became a Bonesman, and graduated in 1897.  Next our saint studied theology at New College, Edinburgh, Scotland, for two years before returning to the United States and working successfully on two concurrent degree programs–Bachelor of Divinity (Union Theological Seminary, 1900) and Master of Arts (Yale, 1900).

Above:  Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, New York

Image creator and copyright holder = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a11085

Henry was a Presbyterian minister.  He, ordained in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in 1900, served as pastor of Bedford Park Presbyterian Church, the Bronx, until 1905, when he transferred to Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York City.  Our saint, a conscientious pastor and visitor in parishioners’ homes, built up Madison Avenue Church from a struggling congregation to one of the largest in the city during his tenure, which ended in 1926.  Starting in 1904 Henry doubled as a part-time Associate Professor of Homiletics and Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary.  Finally he accepted an offer to become the President of the seminary in 1926.  “Uncle Harry,” as students called him, guided the seminary financially through the Great Depression and hired Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich.  Among Henry’s greatest accomplishments was helping to avoid a schism (related to the fundamentalist-modernist controversy) in his denomination in the middle 1920s.  A minor schism, creating what became the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, occurred in 1936, but no major split occurred in the 1920s.

William Sloane Coffin, Jr., born in New York City on June 1, 1924, was a son of William Sloane Coffin, Sr., and Catherine Butterfield Coffin.  Our saint, known informally as Bill, lost his father in 1933.  The family fortune had declined, and William Sr. had refused to evict low-income tenants who could not afford rent.  Catherine took her family into exile in Carmel, California, where they moved into a bungalow and the children attended public schools.  In 1937 Uncle Harry began to finance the educations of Bill and his younger sister.  Bill began to study at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and Catherine left California.  The following year Catherine took Bill to Europe, where he studied classical piano–first in Paris, with Nadia Boulanger, then in Geneva–until June 1940, when World War II forced their return to the United States.

Henry, who received many honorary degrees, was prominent on the Christian and world stage.  His image graced the cover of the November 15, 1926, issue of Time magazine.  Our saint was also active in ecumenism, working successfully for the creation of the World Council of Churches (1948) and unsuccessfully in the 1940s for the merger of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and The Episcopal Church, then officially the Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.   Uncle Harry also worked with former U.S. President Herbert Hoover to send provisions to the United Kingdom prior to December 8, 1941, and supported U.S. involvement in World War II.

Bill Coffin went to war.  He graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, in 1942, began studies at Yale Music School, then received his military draft notice in 1943.  For fur years he served in the U.S. Army, ending up in military intelligence.  Next our saint returned to Yale, joined the Skull and Bones Society (of which friend and classmate George Herbert Walker Bush was also a member), and graduated in 1949.  The Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) recruited Coffin at Yale, but he initially chose theology instead.  In 1949 he matriculated at Union Theological Seminary yet left for the C.I.A. the following year, shortly after the beginning of the Korean War.  At the C.I.A. Coffin taught Soviet émigrés the arts of spycraft.  Our saint left the agency over Eisenhower-era C.I.A. coups against democratically elected governments, however.  He graduated from Yale Divinity School, became a Presbyterian minister, and married actress Eva Rubenstein in 1956.

Uncle Harry retired from Union Theological Seminary in 1945 then toured the Orient and studied missionary work there.  He died, aged 77 years, on November 25, 1954, at Salisbury, Connecticut.  His wife, Dorothy Prentice Eells (married in 1906; died in 1983) and two children (Ruth and David) survived him.

Henry translated hymn stanzas and wrote books.  In 1916 he translated the following stanza of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:

O come, Desire of nations, bind

All peoples in one heart and mind;

Bid envy, strife, and discord cease;

Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

In 1910, in Hymns of the Kingdom of God, which Henry co-edited, he included the following stanza of “God Himself is With Us”:

Thou pervadest all things:

Let thy radiant beauty

Light mine eyes to see my duty.

As the tender flowers

Eagerly unfold them,

To the sunlight calmly hold them,

So let me quietly

In thy rays imbue me;

Let thy light shine through me.

Our saint’s books included the following:

  1. The Creed of Jesus and Other Sermons (1907),
  2. Social Aspects of the Cross (1911),
  3. University Sermons (1911),
  4. The Christian and the Church (1912),
  5. Some Christian Convictions:  A Practical Restatement in Terms of Present-Day Thinking (1915),
  6. The Ten Commandments:  With a Christian Application to the Present Conditions (1915),
  7. In a Day of Social Rebuilding:  Lectures on the Ministry of the Church (1918),
  8. A More Christian Industrial Order (1920),
  9. Portraits of Jesus Christ (1926),
  10. What is There in Religion? (1926),
  11. What to Preach (1926),
  12. The Meaning of the Cross (1931),
  13. What Men Are Asking (1933),
  14. God’s Turn:  A Collection of Sermons (1934),
  15. Religion Yesterday and Today (1940), and
  16. A Half-Century of Union Theological Seminary, 1896-1945 (1954).

William Sloane Coffin, Jr., became a social activist. Unfortunately, stresses associated with his quest for social justice ended his first two marriages (in 1968 and 1975).  In 1956-1957 our saint filled the one-year appointment as chaplain at Phillips Academy. In 1957 he became the chaplain at Williams College.  There our saint’s support for civil rights (especially in relation to the events in Little Rock, Arkansas) and criticism of fraternities created controversy.  One fraternity brother went so far as to shoot out Coffin’s living room window in anger.  From 1958 to 1975 our saint served as the chaplain at Yale University.  At Yale Coffin became involved in the Freedom Rides in the South, opposed the Vietnam War, and supported young men who refused to cooperate with the military draft.  For his nonviolent anti-draft activities Coffin faced federal charges, went on trial, and became a convict.  Later an appeals court overturned the conviction and the government dropped the charges.

To oppose government-sponsored violence nonviolently can place one is legal jeopardy, unfortunately.

Coffin served as the senior pastor of The Riverside Church, New York City, from 1977 to 1987.  He opposed Apartheid, lobbied for nuclear disarmament, and spoke out in favor of gay rights–when the latter was a marginal position, even on the Left.  He resigned in 1987 to work on the nuclear disarmament issue full-time.

Our saint was quite active during much of this retirement.  From 1989 to 1992 he led SANE/FREEZE, dedicated to disarmament and a freeze on atomic weapons.  Then he and third wife Virginia Randolph Wilson (married in 1984) moved to Vermont.  Coffin continued to travel and speak on a variety of topics, including his opposition to the Iraq War.  At the end of his life our saint suffered a series of strokes.  He died, surrounded by family, on April 12, 2006.  He was 81 years old.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin faced different challenges.  Both of them responded to those issues in front of them in accordance with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the prophets’ call to social justice, as they understood those high standards.  They were controversial in their times.  They were probably correct more often than not.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 30, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF APOLO KIVEBULAYA, APOSTLE TO THE PYGMIES

THE FEAST OF JOACHIM NEANDER, GERMAN REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOSEPHINE BUTLER, WORKER AMONG WOMEN

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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 Henry Sloane Coffin and William Sloane Coffin, Jr.,

to work for justice among people and nations, to the glory f 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), page 60

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Frederick and William Temple (December 22)   1 comment

canterbury-cathedral

Above:  Canterbury Cathedral, 1910

Publisher and Copyright Claimant = Detroit Publishing Company

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a24699

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

FREDERICK TEMPLE (NOVEMBER 30, 1821-DECEMBER 22, 1902)

Archbishop of Canterbury

father of

WILLIAM TEMPLE (OCTOBER 15, 1881-OCTOBER 26, 1944)

Archbishop of Canterbury

His feast transferred from November 6

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So let us set ourselves to gain a deepening loyalty to our Anglican tradition of Catholic order, Evangelical immediacy in our approach to God, and liberal acceptance of new truth made known to us; and let us at the same time join with all our fellow Christians who will join with us in bearing witness to the claim of Christ to rule in every department of human life, and to the principles of His Kingdom.

–William Temple, April 17, 1942; quoted in Lee W. Gibbs, The Middle Way:  Voices of Anglicanism (Cincinnati, OH:  Forward Movement Publications, 1991), page 130

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The standard feast day of William Temple is November 6.  To the best of my knowledge, no ecclesiastical body lists his father, Frederick Temple, on its calendar of saints.  On this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, however, the two Archbishop Temples share a feast day–December 22.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

frederick-temple

Above:  Frederick Temple

Image in the Public Domain

Frederick Temple was an educator, an educational reformer, a theologian, and a minister.  He, born on November 30, 1821, debuted at Leukas (a.k.a. Santa Maura), the Ionian Islands, off the coast of Greece.  His father, Major Octavius Temple (1784-1834) was there on imperial assignment.  Our saint’s mother was Dorcas Carveth (born in 1805).  He was one of five children.  The family relocated to Corfu in 1828.  Then, in 1833, Octavius became the Lieutenant Governor of Sierra Leone, serving until he died the following year.

The death of Octavius left the family impoverished.  Frederick studied at Blundell’s School, Devonshire, from 1834 to 1839.  Then, from 1839 to 1842, he attended Baillol College, Oxford, on scholarship, studying mechanics and the classics.  He encountered Tractarians there and found himself more liberal than they were.  From 1842 to 1848 our saint worked as a lecturer then a fellow at Baillol College.  Along the way he became an Anglican deacon (1846) then priest (1847).

Frederick left Oxford in 1848.  Until 1850 he worked at the Education Office.  Then, from 1850 to 1855, he was the Principal of Kneller Hall, a training college for teachers at workhouses.  Next (until 1857) our saint inspected training colleges.  From 1857 to 1869, as the Headmaster of Rugby School, expanded the curriculum, presided over new construction, and functioned as a good example to everyone.  On the side, from 1864 to 1867, Frederick served on the Schools Enquiry Commission.

Frederick contributed an essay, The Education of the World,” to Essays and Reviews (1860), a liberal Anglican manifesto.  The volume proved to be controversial, partially because all seven authors favored freedom of inquiry in religion.  In our saint’s case, his argument irked many people and led to allegations to heresy.  He wrote of the parallels of human life (obedience during childhood, example during adolescence, and responsible freedom during adulthood) to three religious stages (the Law, the Gospels, and Pentecost).  In the last phase, Frederick wrote, humankind must be free to make decisions while drawing from all worthy sources, mainly the Bible.  Some critics accused our saint of being unduly optimistic regarding human nature and of ignoring sin and redemption.  In response to the controversy he authorized the omission of his essay from subsequent editions of Essays and Reviews.

Our saint became the Bishop of Exeter in 1869 and served until 1885.  Frederick encouraged secondary education.  he also worked hard to implement the Elementary Education Act of 1870, which expanded the reach of elementary school access and improved attendance.  Also during his tenure Frederick oversaw the creation of the Diocese of Truro from his diocese.  And, on October 15, 1881, our saint and his wife, Beatrice Blanche Lascelles, welcomed their second son, William, into the world.

During his time as Bishop of Exeter our saint published The Relations Between Religion and Science (1884).  He accepted both science and religion, acknowledging the reality of Evolution.  He had already covered much of that material in a sermon, The Present Relation of Science to Religion (1860).

From 1885 to 1896 Frederick was the Bishop of London.  During that time he advised the Archbishop of Canterbury, his friend, Edward White Benson, whom he succeeded in 1897.  When our saint became the Primate he was already going blind.  Yet he labored faithfully, attempting to settle ritualistic controversies and refuting the Papal bull (literally) regarding the invalidity of Anglican Holy Orders.  Frederick died at London on December 22, 1902.  He was 81 years old.

Another published work of our saint was “The Church’s Message to Mankind,” included in The Church’s Message to Men (1899).

Volumes about Frederick, at least in part, included the following:

  1. Archbishop Temple, Being the People’s Life of the Right Hon. and Most Rev. Frederick Temple, P.C., D.D., LL.D., Primate of All England, and Metropolitan (1903), by Charles Henry Dant;
  2. Six Great Schoolmasters (1904), by F. D. How;
  3. Memoirs of Archbishop Temple by Seven Friends (1906), edited by E. G. Sandford–Volumes I and II;
  4. Frederick Temple:  An Appreciation (1907), by E. G. Sandford, with a biographical introduction by William Temple; and
  5. The Exeter Episcopate of Archbishop Temple, 1869-1885 (1907), by E. G. Sandford.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

william-temple

Above:  William Temple

Image in the Public Domain

William Temple entered the world on October 15, 1881, when his father, then the Bishop of Exeter, was 60 years old.  Young William grew up in a financially comfortable and artistically rich family.  When his father was the Bishop of London our saint learned to play the piano and the organ.  He also attempted to learn to play the oboe and the French horn and came to consider Johann Sebastian Bach to be

the supreme master  who more than any other enables us for a few moments snatched from the passage of time to enter upon the experience of eternity.

–Quoted in Lee W. Gibbs, The Middle Way:  Voices of Anglicanism (1991), page 114

The bookworm suffered from various illnesses, such as gout, throughout his life.  He, like his father, had eye-related problems; William became blind in one eye, due to a cataract, in 1921.

William was also a natural intellectual.  He, educated at Rugby School (1894-1900) and Baillol College, Oxford (1900-1904), was a fellow and lecturer in philosophy at Queen’s College, Oxford, from 1904 to 1910.  Ordained to the diaconate in December 1909 and the priesthood in December 1910, our saint served as the Headmaster of Repton School, Derbyshire, from 1910 to 1914.

The priesthood had once been far from William’s mind, but it was his vocation.  Allegations of heresy had delayed his Holy Orders, but our saint became a simultaneously relatively orthodox and heterodox figure after his ordination.  The Incarnation occupied the center of his theology.  The Incarnation, William argued, had made the universe sacramental.  This understanding informed our saint’s opinion that one cannot properly divorce Christian doctrine from social justice.  Thus he served as the President of the Workers’ Educational Association from 1908 to 1924 and joined the Labour Party.  Christian disunity weakened the witness of the Church in the world, William knew.  Therefore he supported ecumenism in general and the Life and Work Movement (1925f) and the Faith and Order Movement (1927f), predecessors of the World Council of Churches (1948), in particular.  Our saint also favored the process that led to the formation of the Church of South India (1947).  William also supported the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood as early as 1916, but struggled with the fact that the ordination of women at that time would become an obstacle to ecumenism.

William entered full-time ministry in 1914.  That year he became the Rector of St. James’ Church, Picadilly, London.  On the side he also served as honorary chaplain to King George V and to Randall Davidson, the Archbishop of Canterbury.  In 1916 our saint married Frances Anson; the couple had no children.  From 1919 to 1921 William was Canon of Westminster.  Next he served as the Bishop of Manchester (thereby becoming a successor of James Prince Lee) for eight years.  As the Bishop of Manchester our saint offended cotton magnates by seeking to resolve a general strike peacefully in 1926.  From 1929 to 1942 he was the Archbishop of York.  Then he succeeded Cosmo Lang as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

William was perhaps the most renowned Archbishop of Canterbury since the English Reformation.  He exercised the duties of the office during difficult times–World War II.  Our saint advocated for aid to Jews fleeing the Nazis, visited soldiers and sailors, broadcast sermons to soldiers and sailors, led prayer services at factories, preached on Sundays when Germans were bombing, and supported a negotiated settlement to the war.  He had to travel to and from his final public appearances in an ambulance and had to stand on one foot while speaking.

Wiliam died at Westgate-on-Sea, Kent, on October 26, 1944.  He was 63 years old.  Reinhold Niebuhr reflected:

Dr. Temple was able to relate “religious insights and social order” more vitally and creatively than any other modern Christian leader.

–Quoted in Lee W. Gibbs, The Middle Way:  Voices of Anglicanism (1991), page 113

Major published works by our saint included the following:

  1. The Nature of Personality:  A Course of Lectures (1911);
  2. “The Divinity of Christ” and “The Church” in Foundations:  A Statement of Christian Belief in Terms of Modern Thought (1913);
  3. The Faith and Modern Thought:  Six Lectures (1913);
  4. Christianity and War (1914);
  5. Theology:  The Science of Religion (1914);
  6. Studies in the Spirit and Truth of Christianity (1914);
  7. Our Need of a Catholic Church (1915);
  8. Church and Nation (1915);
  9. Plato and Christianity (1916);
  10. Mens Creatrix:  An Essay (1917);
  11. The Universality of Christ:  A Course of Lectures (1921);
  12. Life of Bishop Percival (1921);
  13. Christus Veritas (1924);
  14. Personal Religion and the Life of Fellowship (1926);
  15. Christianity and the State (1928);
  16. Nature, Man, and God (1934);
  17. Readings in St. John’s Gospel (1939 and 1940); and
  18. Christianity and the Social Order (1942).

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Understanding Frederick Temple increases one’s comprehension for his famous son.  The apple, I contend, did not fall far from the tree.  Although William Temple overshadows his father, nobody should minimize the importance of the elder.

As both Temples understood well, an excessively personalized Christianity divorced from social justice is heretical.  They were good Anglicans and therefore men rooted in the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity as Jesus of Nazareth.  As I have learned, the Anglican emphasis on the Incarnation (as opposed to the Lutheran emphasis on the crucifixion) lends itself to reading John 1:1-18, especially the part about God dwelling among us, and seeking to serve God in those around us.  This point of view has led to ecclesiastical involvement in social justice movements.  This has always been orthodox; turning away from the mandate to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself has always been heretical.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 8, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JOHN CASPAR MATTES, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF JOHANN VON STAUPITZ, MARTIN LUTHER’S SPIRITUAL MENTOR

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, we praise you for your servants Frederick Temple and William Temple,

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), page 60

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++