Archive for the ‘Social Justice’ Tag

Feast of William Scarlett (October 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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WILLIAM SCARLETT (OCTOBER 3, 1883-MARCH 28, 1973)

Episcopal Bishop of Missouri, and Advocate for Social Justice

Bishop William Scartlett comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible.

Scarlett, born in Columbus, Ohio, on October 3, 1883, grew up to become a courageous, progressive Christian leader on the vanguard of various moral causes.  He was what certain cynical reactionaries of 2018 would have called a “social justice warrior.”  So were Hebrew prophets.  Our saint, influenced at an early age by Washington Gladden (1836-1918) and Walter Rauschenbush (1861-1918), proponents of the Social Gospel, graduated from Harvard University with his A.B. degree in 1905.  Scarlett, unsure about whether to study for ministry or medicine, worked on a ranch in Nebraska for a year.  He matriculated at the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1906, and graduated three years later.  Our saint, spent the rest of his life in ordained ministry marked by a dedication to social justice dictated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Scarlett cared deeply by outreach to the poor, the rights of industrial workers, civil rights, and other issues germane to human relations.  He was, in order:

  1. Assistant Rector, St. George’s Episcopal Church, New York, New York (1909-1911);
  2. Dean, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Phoenix, Arizona (1911-1922);
  3. Dean, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, Missouri (1922-1930);
  4. Bishop Coadjutor of Missouri (1930-1933); and
  5. Bishop of Missouri (1933-1952).

Friend Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) described our saint as

the conscience of the community.

Scarlett was on the avant-garde of The Episcopal Church with regard to social ethics.  He advocated for the liberalization of the denomination’s stance on remarriage after divorce.  In 1946 our saint edited Christianity Takes a Stand, in which various authors took a stand against societal sins such as racial segregation and the federal government’s recent internment of West Coast Japanese Americans.  Although the House of Deputies, at the General Convention of 1946, consented without debate to sponsor the publication of the book, the majority of Episcopalians were not ready to espouse those positions yet.

Scarlett, a Low Church Episcopalian and self-described Liberal Evangelical who wore a tie in lieu of a clerical collar, was a natural ecumenist.  He cooperated with members of other Christian denominations as easily as he did with Jews.  At Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis, our saint scandalized many Anglo-Catholics by encouraging interdenominational Eucharists.  He also scrapped plans for a new Episcopal hospital in the city when he learned of a similar Presbyterian plan.  The result was cooperation, not competition, in the form of St. Luke’s Episcopal-Presbyterian Hospital.  He also favored the merger of The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. in the 1940s.  The proposal did not survive the late 1940s.  It would probably have been impractical anyway.

(Aside:  I mean no disrespect to any Presbyterians, but the denominational cultures and certain theological-liturgical factors are too different for merger to be practical.  I suppose that many Presbyterians agree with that assessment.  Cooperation of many issues is feasible and desirable, however.)

Scarlett retired in late 1952.  His successor as Bishop of Missouri was Arthur Carl Lichtenberger (1900-1968), later the Presiding Bishop of the denomination.

In retirement Scarlett wrote the exposition on the Book of Jonah for The Interpreter’s Bible.  He wrote, in part:

If God has a controversy with his people, it is because there has been in our world too little concern for our brother, too little recognition that his fate is bound up in ours, and ours in his, even to the least, too much forgetting that word of old, “We are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25) and if one member suffers, “all the members suffer with it” (I Cor. 12:26).  A plain fact of the nineteen-thirties is that Hitler climbed to power on the backs of the unemployed in Germany, and it was this frustration, this sense of uselessness, in millions of lives that made his way easy.

The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume VI (1956), 877

That is a chilling text in 2018.

The resurgence of fascism and of authoritarianism in general has been current reality in the world, from the Philippines to Europe to Brazil to Turkey to Europe for a few years now.  Many of the enablers of fascist and other authoritarian leaders have been professing Christians.  The call to “Make America Great Again” has echoed pre-World War II movements to make Italy and Germany great again.  The rhetoric of “America First,” originated before World War II in an openly anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi movement to keep the United States out of that war, has returned, still with racist overtones.  Calls for U.S. society and government to practice the Golden Rule have become subversive as many professing Christians have chosen to ignore the demands of that great commandment and embraced xenophobia and nativism, largely out of fear.

I encourage you, O reader, to read Scarlett’s exposition on the Book of Jonah and to oppose–resist–the deplorable resurgence of fascism and of authoritarianism in general.

Scarlett, aged 89 years, died in Castine, Maine, on March 28, 1973.  His wife, Leah Oliver Van Riper (b. 1889), had predeceased him in 1965.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 3, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CHICHESTER

THE FEAST OF ALBERTO RAMENTO, PRIME BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN RALEIGH MOTT, U.S. METHODIST LAY EVANGELIST, AND ECUMENICAL PIONEER

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

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

Help us, like your servant William Scarlett, 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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Feast of St. Francis of Assisi (October 4)   7 comments

Above:  St. Francis Beneath a Tree, Praying, by Rembrandt van Rijn

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-102921

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GIOVANNI FRANCESCO PIETRO DI BENRADONE (1181/1182-OCTOBER 3, 1226)

Founder of the Order of Friars Minor

Beatified in 1228

I have done my part.  May Christ teach you to do yours.

–St. Francis of Assisi, as he lay dying

St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most popular saints.  Statues of him populate many gardens and other public places.  St. Francis seems harmless, friendly, and inoffensive in the imaginations of many people.  Yet the testimony of his life is revolutionary.

I have decided not to write a biography of St. Francis.  I have reasoned that (1) those are easy to find, and (2) most of them are superior to any biography I might compose.  (Here is one.)  I have decided, however, to reflect on some lessons from his life for modern people and societies.

St. Francis renounced the idol of materialism.  In so doing, he found liberation to follow God, whom he found liberation to follow, and whom he recognized in the poor and in nature.

Economies depend on materialism.  They do so because (1) some people created economies this way, and (2) other people have retained these systems.  The industry of advertising tells people that they cannot live without that which they can live–and have lived.  Advertising often convinces people that material goods will solve their spiritual problems.  It also converts the Seven Deadly Sins into virtues.  Materialism is one of the most popular idols.

I think about this matter perhaps most often at the end of each year.  The commercialization of Christmas is the real “War on Christmas.”  Ironically, it is a campaign many U.S. Protestants favored in the 1800s, rather than celebrate a Roman Catholic feast day.  I seek few Christmas gifts, just as I give few.  I do most of my Christmas shopping at thrift stores, too.  I know that many jobs depend directly and indirectly on the orgy of materialism at the end of the year, and I manage to avoid most of that madness, but I also know that, if most people were to behave as I do, the consequences for many working people would be dire.  This is an example of what economists call the paradox of thrift.

Poverty, which St. Francis chose for himself, comes with a stigma in much of the world.  Many of the hardest working people are poor, contrary to much rhetoric.  In much of the world many of the poor are impoverished because the economic-political system is one rigged against them.  This is a truth as old as antiquity, as well as one against which certain Biblical prophets railed.  Whenever policy is to keep much of the population in poverty, government retards the progress and well-being of a society, to the common detriment.

We are part of nature, of which we have a divine mandate to be good stewards.  Science tells us that species have evolved in nature, and that they continue to do so.  Yet many of us seem not to have evolved spiritually in relation to nature, for evidence of disrespect for the created order is ubiquitous.  From littering to pollution to global warming to the driving of species to extinction, humanity’s record of damaging the planet and ecosystems is long and shameful.  It also harms us, for we are part of nature, too.

The legacy of St. Francis of Assisi should stand in the minds of more people as a call to moral, social, economic, and political revolution, for the glory of God and the common good.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RALPH W. SOCKMAN, U.S. UNITED METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF CARL DOVING, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JAMES ALLEN, ENGLISH INGHAMITE THEN GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HIS GREAT-NEPHEW, OSWALD ALLEN, ENGLISH GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PETRUS HERBERT, GERMAN MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMNODIST

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Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world;

that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you,

delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit;

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 22:13-16

Psalm 148:7-14

Galatians 6:14-18

Matthew 11:25-30

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 623

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O God, you ever delight to reveal yourself to the childlike and lowly of heart;

grant that, following the example of the blessed Francis,

we may count the wisdom of this world as foolishness and know only Jesus Christ and him crucified,

who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Common Worship:  Daily Prayer (2005), 505

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Gracious and merciful God, you kindled in the heart of Francis such a flame of love that he became wholly yours;

increase in us a whole-hearted trust in you and a humble love of all your creatures,

that we may know the joy the gospel brings; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.  Amen.

or

Holy Jesus, give us something of Francis’ simplicity,

something of his recklessness,

something of his obedience;

give us the courage to understand what you say and do it.  Amen.

Song of the Three Young Men 52-65

Psalm 119:145-152 or Psalm 148

Galatians 6:14-18

Matthew 11:25-30

–The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia

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God of creation, we thank you for all that you have made and called good:

Grant that we may rightly serve and conserve the earth, and live at peace with all your creatures;

through Jesus Christ, the firstborn of all creation,

in whom you are reconciling the whole world to yourself.  Amen.

Job 14:7-9

Psalm 104:24-31

Romans 1:20-23

Mark 16:14-15

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 732

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Bountiful Creator, you open your hand to satisfy the needs of every living creature:

Make us always thankful for your loving providence,

and grant that we, remembering the account we must one day give,

may be faithful stewards of your abundance, for the benefit of the whole creation;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom all things were made,

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

1 Kings 4:29-30, 33-34

Psalm 145:1-7, 22

Acts 17:24-31

John 1:1-5, 9-14

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 731

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Feast of St. Paul VI (September 26)   4 comments

Above:  St. Paul VI 

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT PAUL VI (SEPTEMBER 26, 1897-AUGUST 6, 1978)

Bishop of Rome

Born Giovanni Battista Montini

This post, as of the drafting and publication of this post, is slightly anticipatory.  Documentation tells us that Pope Benedict XVI declared Paul VI a Venearble in 2012 and that Pope Francis beatified Montini in 2014.  According to news reports, Pope Francis is set to canonize Paul VI on October 14, 2018.  Given that fact, plus the reality that, for me, differences among Venerables, Blesseds, and full Saints are purely semantic, I choose to proceed with calling the deceased Supreme Pontiff St. Paul VI, although he will remain a Blessed Paul VI for about one more month.

The feast day for St. Paul VI is September 26, the anniversary of his birth.  Usually a saint’s feast day falls on the anniversary of his or her death, but that date, for Montini, is the Feast of the Transfiguration.

Giovanni Battista Montini, born in Concescio, Italy, on September 26, 1897, came from a devout family.  His father was an attorney and a member of parliament.  Montini, devoted to his mother, became a priest on May 29, 1920.  Graduate studies in Rome ensued.

Montini’s star rose quickly in the Church.  In 1922 he joined the Vatican Secretariat of State.  He, the Nuncio to Poland from May to November 1923, resigned for health reasons.  On July 8, 1931, our saint became a domestic prelate to the Holy See.  Montini, assistant to Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) from December 13, 1937, worked closely with Pacelli/Pius XII until 1954.

Montini must have severely offended the Holy Father, for Pius XII exiled our saint to Milan.  On November 1, 1954, Montini began his duties as the Archbishop of Milan, far from being a plumb assignment.  In Milan, Montini was the “workers’ archbishop,” winning the approval of disaffected industrial workers.  He presided over an archdiocese still recovering from World War II.  Furthermore, Montini’s ecumenism became evident when he conducted dialogues with a group of Anglicans–a revolutionary practice prior to the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II).

In 1958 Pope St. John XXIII succeeded the late Pius XII.  On December 5, 1958, St. John XXIII made Montini a Cardinal.  (Five years prior our saint had declined a similar offer from Pius XII, who had never repeated the offer.)  Cardinal Montini and St. John XXIII were two of the primary shapers of Vatican II.  St. John XXIII died in June 1963.  The conclave elected Cardinal Montini to succeed him; our saint became Pope Paul VI.  He presided over the final sessions of Vatican II.

St. Paul VI was doctrinally conservative and socially radical.  That has been a combination common in Christian history.  Many of the English Tractarians, for example, were open about their Christian Socialism.  Actual Jewish and Christian orthodoxy has, by definition, been conservative.  It has also challenged entrenched social structures and institutions, ended chattel slavery in much of the world, condemned the economic exploitation of the poor by the rich, championed labor unions, and opposed racial segregation.

If one is to understand the legacy of St. Paul VI, one must grasp the combination of theological orthodoxy and social and political radicalism.  What, for example, is more theologically orthodox and, sadly, socially and politically radical than the Golden Rule?

Life in the Roman Catholic Church since 1965 has been, depending on one’s perspective, either too liberal or too conservative.  St. Paul VI, who met with Archbishops of Canterbury Michael Ramsey (in 1966) and Donald Coggan (in 1977) and, in 1965, with Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras, lifted the mutual anathemas dating to 1054, angered many traditionalists.  St. Paul VI’s encyclical Populorum Progressio (1967), which condemned the growing gap between the rich and the poor in the Third World and committed the Church to addressing that problem constructively, was consistent with the Law, the Prophets, Jesus, and Pope Leo XIIIHumanae Vitae (1968), which maintained the condemnation of artificial contraception, has been controversial from day one.  The decision to sell the papal tiara and give the proceeds to help the poor was at least a good gesture.  St. Paul VI sought to balance innovation and the integrity of ecclesiastical teaching.  The extent to which he succeeded has never ceased to be a topic of disagreement.

St. Paul VI, aged 80 years, died on August 6, 1978.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK J. MURPHY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCISCUS CH’OE KYONG-HWAN, KOREAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR, 1839; SAINTS LAWRENCE MARY JOSEPH IMBERT, PIERRE PHILIBERT MAUBANT, AND JACQUES HONORÉ CHASTÁN, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS, MISSIONARIES TO KOREA, AND MARTYRS, 1839; SAINT PAUL CHONG HASANG, KOREAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN AND MARTYR, 1839; AND SAINTS CECILIA YU SOSA AND JUNG HYE, KOREAN ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS, 1839

THE FEAST OF KASPAR BIENEMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JOSIAH IRONS, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; AND HIS DAUGHTER, GENEVIEVE MARY IRONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC HYMN WRITER

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O God, our heavenly Father, who raised up your faithful servant St. Paul VI

to be a bishop in your Church and to feed your flock:

Give abundantly to all bishops the gifts of your Holy Spirit,

that they may minister in your household as true servants of Christ and stewards of your divine mysteries;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84 or 84:7-11

Ephesians 3:14-21

Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 719

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Proper Levels of Sensitivity   2 comments

Above:  A Scene from Blazing Saddles (1974)

A Screen Capture

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Or, Neither Be a Snowflake Nor Excuse and Facilitate Snowflakism in Others

Maintaining the proper level of sensitivity is crucial; hypersensitivity is at least as negative a force as insensitivity.

Certain statements are always beyond the pale.  These statements are those intended to degrade other human beings.  Reasons for degrading others include race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, and religious affiliation.  Anyone who crosses that line deserves strong condemnation.  Nobody should ever tolerate such statements.  One might, on occasion, quote them (as in academic work; try writing a biography of a segregationist politician without quoting racial slurs, for example) or mock them (as in Blazing Saddles).

Above:  Men Reluctant to Give Land to the Irish; from Blazing Saddles (1974)

A Screen Capture

Some works of art age better than others based on this standard.  For example, Blazing Saddles (1974) depicts unapologetic racists as fools and idiots.  The movie stands the test of time as a masterpiece that argues against bigotry.  We who watch the movie laugh at those ensnared by their own learned racism.  Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) is also a classic, but Mickey Rooney’s performance as an Asian man makes me cringe.  On the other hand, the movie does boast Audrey Hepburn and a cat.  How can I dislike a movie with Audrey Hepburn and a cat in it?

Above:  Holly Golightly and Cat in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

A Screen Capture

I am sensitive, but not hypersensitive.  Life is too short (however long it might feel in real time) for me to spend it being hypersensitive, either about what others do and say or what I do or say.  No, I aim for a proper level of sensitivity on both sides of the equation.  I find Birth of a Nation (1915) offensive, for the seminal movie does glorify the first Ku Klux Klan.  The work is inherently racist, but it is also a landmark of cinema and a document of sorts of racial attitudes in much of the United States half a century after the end of the Civil War.  I have no regrets about having watched it from beginning to end once, for historical interest, or in having shown clips in classes, for educational purposes, with context.

The guiding principle for me in these matters is respecting the dignity of every human being, a value built into the Baptismal Covenant in The Book of Common Prayer (1979).  This principle explains why, for example, I oppose abortion except in extenuating cases (while I argue that changing minds and making alternatives to abortion easier is a more effective, and therefore, better strategy than outlawing the procedure) as well as homophobia and discrimination against homosexuals.  Whether one places the label “left” or the label “right” on a position regarding respecting the dignity of all people does not matter to me.  Respecting the dignity of every human being is a principle that leads me to refrain from dehumanizing those who are different from me in one or more ways.

That does not mean, however, that I can ever get through day without doing something to offend someone, given that some people take offense more easily than others, and often at matters certain others consider inoffensive.

I am, for example, sufficiently pedantic to insist on always using the words “they,” “them,” “their,” and “themselves” in the plural.  One can be inclusive in the present tense, often by writing or speaking in language that makes one sound educated.  “One” and “one’s” are gender-neutral pronouns, after all.  One might also remain in the singular and substitute the definite article (“the”) for a gendered pronoun.  One can, when one sets one’s mind to the task, identify several strategies for being inclusive in the singular without wrecking the English language.  Alternatively, one might use “they,” “them,” “their,” and “themselves” correctly by switching to the plural forms of words.  Or one might accept the tradition of using masculine pronouns as the inclusive default position and go about enjoying one’s day.  All of the above are feasible options.  I refuse to distort the English language, of which I am quite fond, because of the hypersensitivity of others.

Some people take offense at even the most respectful and polite disagreements.  I have experience with this, usually in the context of teaching.

In late 1991, in southern Georgia, U.S.A., I was at a transitional point in my life.  I was a freshman in college.  I was also turning into an Episcopalian.  I was, for the time being, still a United Methodist, though.  My father was the newly-appointed pastor of the Sumner United Methodist Church, Sumner, Georgia.  One Sunday morning I was teaching the adult class.  There were two visitors, a married couple, Independent Baptists from Savannah, Georgia.  One half of that couple was a child of a member at Sumner.  During the course of that Sunday School lesson the visitors decided that my position on a particular theological point was lax.  Courteously I said,

I disagree.

I learned later in the week that I had offended–upset, really–them.  If these individuals were not prepared to take a polite, respectful “I disagree” well, how did they cope with daily life?  Did they associate most days only with people who agreed with them completely?

I have also offended students with the Joe Friday strategy–

Just the facts.

(Watch Dragnet, if you dare.  The acting was consistently and purposefully bad, but the two series were popular culture touchstones.)  In World Civilization I courses, for example, I have recited facts of ancient comparative religion.  This information has disturbed some students, who have mistaken me for one hostile to Judaism and Christianity, and who have taken grave offense at me.  To quote an old saying many of a younger generation might not understand,

Their tapes were running.

Those who took offense at me were not listening to what I was saying.  No, they were listening to what they thought I was saying.  They were reacting not to me, but to others who had criticized Christianity on false grounds.  In contrast, years ago, when I wrote an article I submitted for publication at an online theological journal with a conservative Presbyterian orientation, I recited many of the same facts about ancient comparative religion, but with no negative response or reaction.  The editors checked my facts and published my article.  They read what I wrote.  They also understood I was not hostile to the faith.

At one of the universities I attended there was a professor who specialized in Latin American history.  One day years ago he taught about human rights violations centuries ago that were matters of policy in the Roman Catholic Church.  An offended parent of an offended student called the department chair to complain.  The professor’s material was factually accurate; he cited examples Holy Mother Church has acknowledged frankly and for which it has formally apologized.  The two offended Roman Catholics (student and parent) took offense more easily and quickly than the institution they defended.

No ideological, political, or religious camp has a monopoly on snowflakism.  If one is to criticize snowflakism while remaining intellectually honest, one must criticize it consistently, without regard for left-right distinctions.

I have a strategy for dealing with that which would ruin my day needlessly:  I ignore it.  If I do not want to hear a speaker on the campus where I work, I do not attend the event.  If I do not want to watch a program or a movie, I avoid it.  Life is too short not to enjoy it properly.

I affirm all I have written in this post thus far as I add to it the following statement:  I understand why many people are hypersensitive.  I understand that many people’s formative experiences have included unapologetic, intentional insults, degradation, and contempt from others.  I understand that many people have felt oppressed because they have experienced a degree of oppression.  I understand that experiences have conditioned them.  I accept that one should acknowledge the unjust realities of many people’s lives and make no excuses for the inexcusable.

I also return to my original thought in this post:  Maintaining the proper level of sensitivity is crucial; hypersensitivity is at least as negative a force as insensitivity.  Something I do (or have done) today is offensive to somebody, somewhere.  The same statement applies to you, O reader.  Our duty is to do our best to love our fellow human beings as we love ourselves.  That kind of love seeks to build people up, not to tear them down.  It respects in words and deeds the dignity inherent in them.  So may we act accordingly.  May we neither cause legitimate offense not take offense wrongly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2018 COMMON ERA

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Feast of Leo XIII (July 20)   3 comments

Above:  His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII

Image in the Public Domain

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GIACCHINO VINCENZO PECCI (MARCH 2, 1810-JULY 20, 1903)

Bishop of Rome

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I want to see the church so far forward that my successor will not be able to turn it back.

–Pope Leo XIII, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 308

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That successor, St. Pius X (1903-1914), turned the Church back for more than half a century, until Popes St. John XXIII (1958-1963) and Blessed Paul VI (1963-1978) presided over the Second Vatican Council (1959-1965).

One of the patterns in organized Christianity since the Enlightenment has been conflict between traditions (especially in theology) and the modern world.  Sometimes, as Leo XIII understood well, conflicts have been unnecessary–even detrimental to the Church, while having their origins in the Church.

Giacchino Vincenzo Pecci, born in Carpinto, near Rome, on March 2, 1810, came from lesser nobility.  At an early age he manifested a keen intellect, which he used throughout his life.  Pecci, studying at Viterbo (1818-1824), the Roman College (1824-1832), and the Academy of Noble Ecclesiastics (1832-1837), joined the ranks of priests in 1837.

Father–later Archbishop, Bishop, and Cardinal–Pecci engaged with the realities of industrial Europe.  He, the Titular Archbishop of Damietta in 1843 and simultaneously the nuncio to Belgium (1843-1846), served as the Bishop of Perugia (1846-1878).  Our saint, Cardinal Pecci from 1853, modernized the curriculum of the seminary in his diocese, encouraged Scholastic theology, and, by 1878, had become the Camerlengo of the Church.  In 1878, Blessed Pius IX, a reactionary Supreme Pontiff who preferred Medieval Catholicism, favored the divine right of kings, considered constitutional government incompatible with Christianity, and practiced Anti-Semitism, died.  Pecci, as the Camerlengo, was in charge between Popes. In February 1878 he became the next Pope as Leo XIII.  He was 67 years old and not in the best of health.  The man predicted to be a stop-gap Pope served for a quarter of a century, until 1903, dying at the age of 93.

Leo XIII stood firmly within Roman Catholic tradition, for better and worse.  In some ways he was quite conservative when he should not have been.  He sought the restoration of Papal temporal power, the Index survived, and, in 1896, the Church declared Anglican holy orders invalid, for example.  Yet Leo XIII was also relatively progressive.  In 1879 he elevated Father John Henry Newman (1801-1890), suspected of heterodoxy, to the College of Cardinals.  (How conservative must one have been to call Newman too liberal?)  This decision upset many conservatives in the Church.  When Leo XIII recognized the French Third Republic he scandalized French Roman Catholic monarchists.  Lifting Blessed Pius IX’s ban on Roman Catholics voting in Italian elections was another indication of liberalism.  Roman Catholicism and representative government, Leo XIII declared, contradicting his predecessor.

Economic justice was crucial, Leo XIII.  He condemned Marxism, communism, and laissez-faire capitalism.  The Pope wrote in favor of labor unions, the right of collective bargaining, a living wage, and safe working conditions.  All of this was a matter of ethics and the dignity or work, for the Supreme Pontiff.

Leo XIII was also open to science and scholarship.  He encouraged some critical scholarship of the Bible (St. Pius X did not encourage any.), reopened the Vatican Observatory, opened the Vatican Library to scholars without regard to creed, and encouraged Roman Catholic scholars to do their work objectively.  The author of 86 encyclicals in 25 years stood within the strain of Roman Catholicism that found faith and reason compatible.  That strain included St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), whose theology Leo XIII had long encouraged people to study.

Leo XIII, while affirming his papal authority (of course), engaged the non-Roman Catholic Christian world.  The 1896 decree about the invalidity of Anglican holy orders was a setback, but he did call non-Roman Catholic Christians “separated brothers.”  St. John XXIII (1958-1963) did the same in a more ecumenical age.  Leo XIII also invited “separated brothers” to reunite with Holy Mother Church.

Leo XIII would have made St. Justin de Jacobis (1800-1860) glad.  The Pope encouraged evangelization, especially outside Europe.  Leo XIII also favored educating indigenous priests, an effective strategy in missions.

Leo XIII, aged 93 years, died at the Vatican on July 20, 1903.  He was simultaneously conservative and liberal, by the standards of his time.  He foreshadowed reforms that started decades after his death.

Consider ecclesiastical politics, O reader.  The reactionary Pius IX is a Blessed, on the path to canonization.  Leo XIII is not even a Venerable.  Pius X, slightly less reactionary than Pius IX, is a full saint.  The less one says and writes about Pius XII, a Venerable, the better.  John XXIII, who opened Vatican II, is a full saint.  (How can Pius X and John XXIII both be full saints?)  Paul VI, who concluded the Second Vatican Council, is a Blessed.  The very nice John Paul I, who forgot to take his medicine and therefore had a brief Pontifficate, is a Venerable.  And John Paul II is a full saint, due to a fast-tracked canonization process.  To some extent one can identify the legacy of Leo XIII in each of his successors.  The legacy of Leo XIII is especially strong in Pope Francis.

I, as an Episcopalian, a member of a church with valid holy orders, belong to a tradition that teaches that history makes saints.  I count legacies, not miracles.  I, one of those “separated brothers” of whom Leo XIII and St. John XXIII wrote and spoke, hereby enroll Leo XIII, Servant of the Servants of God, in my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 21, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DE CHERGÉ AND HIS COMPANIONS, MARTYRS OF TIBHIRINE, ALGERIA, 1996

THE FEAST OF EUGENE DE MAZENOD, BISHOP OF MARSEILLES AND FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE MISSIONARIES, OBLATES OF MARY IMMACULATE

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANZ JÄGGERSTÄTTER, AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR AND MARTYR, 1943

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH ADDISON AND ALEXANDER POPE, ENGLISH POETS

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Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops of your church,

including your servant Pope Leo XIII.

May the memory of his life be a source of joy for us and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve and confess your name before the world,

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

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

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of John Hines (July 19)   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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

Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church and Witness for Civil Rights

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Justice is the corporate face of love.

John Hines, 1981

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

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

–Page A3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 20, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE DAY OF PENTECOST, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALCUIN OF YORK, ABBOT OF TOURS

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

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

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

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

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

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

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

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of James Arthur MacKinnon (June 19)   Leave a comment

Ottawa 01

Above:  A Germane Headline from The Ottawa Journal, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Article accessed via newspapers.com

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JAMES ARTHUR MACKINNON (SEPTEMBER 30, 1932-JUNE 22, 1965)

Canadian Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr in the Dominican Republic

Most of the saints (canonized and otherwise) I add to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, lived and died hundreds of years ago.  Some lived and died thousands of years ago.  With this post I add another saint who lived and died decades ago.

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The divine mandate of social justice thunders off the pages of the Old and New Testaments.  It is prominent in the Law of Moses, with the ethos of interdependence and condemnation of human exploitation.  The divine mandate is also prominent in the pronouncements of Hebrew prophets, as in Amos 8:4-6 (The New Revised Standard Version:  Catholic Edition, 1993):

Hear this, you that trample on the needy,

and bring to ruin the poor of the land,

saying, “When will the new moon be over

so that we may sell grain;

and the sabbath,

so that we may offer wheat for sale?

We will make the ephah small and the shekel great,

and practice deceit with false balances,

buying the poor for silver

and the needy for a pair of sandals,

and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”

Jesus identified himself with that ethos of economic justice when he quoted from Isaiah 61 and 58 at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-19).  And, in Revelation 18, those who profited from business arrangements with the fallen Roman Empire (“Babylon”) mourn the fall of that corrupt and exploitative government:

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves–and human lives.

–Revelation 18:11-13, The New Revised Standard Version:  Catholic Edition (1993)

James Arthur MacKinnon, born at New Victoria, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, on September 30, 1932, learned that ethos well and gave his life acting according to it.  He was 32 years old when he died.

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Before I expand on those statements I must, if I am to write this post properly, explain the situation in the Dominican Republic, on the island of Hispaniola.  The ownership of land in the American colonies of the Spanish Empire was concentrated into the hands of a small minority of the population.  This meant that the vast majority of people were poor and landless.   This pattern remained after colonies became independent countries, which frequently had unstable political systems as well as  long stretches of time with military dictatorships as the norms.  Meanwhile, the landless poor desired land at least as much as large landowners resisted efforts to break up estates.

Dominican Republic 1945

Above:  A Map of Hispaniola in 1945

Image Source = Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

In 1930 military leader Rafael Trujillo began his 31-year-long rule via a stolen election.  Sometimes he was the President of the Dominican Republic; at other times one puppet or another occupied the presidency.  Nevertheless, Trujillo was the de facto ruler (and sometimes de jure leader) of his country from 1930 to 1961.  His was a brutal regime.  It had started by means of thugs (secret police) torturing and killing supporters of his opponent in the election of 1930.  Trujillo tolerated no dissent and ordered the executions of tens of thousands of people, sometimes at once.  He also instituted policies which made him extremely wealthy at the expense of the masses, built up the capital city (Santo Domingo, which he renamed “Ciudad Trujillo” after himself in 1936) to the detriment of the common good, harmed the rural areas, and presided over a cult of personality.  His reign ended via assassination on May 30, 1961.  Ciudad Trujillo reverted to Santo Domingo, but Trujillo loyalists abounded.

Juan Bosch, a historian and novelist, was a leftist opponent of Trujillo.  Bosch had gone into exile in 1937 and founded the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) two years later.  He appealed to intellectuals, the middle class, and the poor.  Bosch won the presidential election of December 1962 in a landslide.  His time in office (February 27-September 25, 1963) was brief.  In the context of the Cold War Bosch’s plans for the redistribution of land alarmed the Kennedy Administration and large Dominican landowners alike.  Bosch’s desire to rein in the military upset elements of the armed forces.  His pro-labor politics alarmed industrialists.  And Bosch’s plans for a secular republic upset elements of the Roman Catholic Church opposed to the separation of church and state.  A military coup d’etat sent Bosch into exile in Puerto Rico (1963-1965).

Dominican Republic 1968

Above:  A Map of Hispaniola in 1968

Image Source = Rand McNally World Atlas–Imperial Edition (1968)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Civil War broke out on April 25, 1965.  The junta lost power, and a revolt to restore Bosch to power started.  The Revolutionary Committee held power for a few hours on April 25 before the two-day-long provisional presidency of Jose Rafael Molina Urena started.  During the interregnum (April 28-30) the Johnson Administration dispatched Marines to the Dominican Republic.  Pedro Bartolome Benoit led the U.S.-backed side from May 1 to 7.  Then General Antonio Imbert Barrera (who had participated in the assassination of Trujillo in 1961) succeeded Benoit, remaining in office until August 30.  On the opposite, pro-Bosch side Francisco Alberto Caamano Deno served as the rival president from May 4 to September 3, 1965.

Caught up in the civil war were thousands of innocent civilians.  Imbert’s U.S.-supported forces rounded up several thousand civilians, executed most of them, and disposed of almost all of the corpses.  This situation was intolerable to James Arthur MacKinnon, a 32-year old Roman Catholic priest whom the Scarboro Foreign Mission Society of Canada had sent to the Dominican Republic.  Father Art, or, as Dominicans knew him, Padre Arturo, worked from his home base about 55 miles outside Santo Domingo.  He was a known quantity to Dominican officialdom, for he had been agitating for land redistribution.  He protested the mass arrests and detention of civilians, making this a prominent part of a sermon.  He also interceded with officials, securing the release of some of these political prisoners.  On June 22, 1965, two police officers murdered Padre Arturo at Monte Plata.  Then a soldier killed the assassins.

Imbert’s forces (and, by extension, Imbert himself) were responsible for MacKinnon’s death.  U.S. journalist Drew Pearson minced no words about this fact in his syndicated column one week.

Pearson 01A

Pearson 01B

Pearson 02A

Pearson 02B

Pearson 03

Source = The Indiana Gazette, Indiana, Pennsylvania, August 14, 1965, Page 20

Accessed via newspapers.com

In Canada, MacKinnon’s native country, press reports were likewise clear about this point.

Ottawa 01

Ottawa 02

Ottawa 03

Source = The Ottawa Journal, Ottawa, Ontario, July 19, 1965, Page 17

Accessed via newspapers.com

The Dominican cover story was flimsy.  Imbert’s forces claimed that MacKinnon had been driving a jeep, zigzagging toward a military road block, refusing to stop at it.  Physical evidence contradicted that lie, however.  No, the policemen shot Padre Arturo at close range, according to three criminologists the Organization of American States sent to investigate this matter.

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The immediate settlement of the civil war entailed replacing the rival presidents with a provisional president, Hector Garcia Godoy, who served from September 3, 1965 to July 1, 1966.  Bosch returned to his native country and ran in the election of 1966, which he lost to U.S.-backed Joachim Balaguer.  Balaguer had been a puppet Vice President (1957-1960) and President (1960-1962) of the Dominican Republic under Turjillo.  The Johnson Administration and its successors supported Balaguer, who stole elections, jailed certain dissents, executed some of those dissidents, seized some opposition newspapers, and did little-to-nothing to help the poor.

James MacKinnon, a Canadian journalist and nephew of our saint, investigated the murder of Padre Arturo four decades after the fact.  He encountered much interference in the Dominican Republic, where many people remain loyal to Trujillo and his followers, and where the murder of Father Art continues to be politically sensitive.  The younger MacKinnon wrote of the murder of his uncle and of the realities of the Dominican Republic in Dead Man in Paradise (2006).

The problem of institutionalized and rampant poverty in the Dominican Republic continues.

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“Take up your cross and follow me,” Jesus commanded.  Padre Arturo MacKinnon obeyed our Lord and Savior.  The example of this troublesome priest should teach us, among other things, about the divine mandate to oppose economic injustice and to live according to the Golden Rule.  The servant is not greater than the master.  Consider, O reader, what happened to Jesus, the master.  Sometimes, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood correctly, the call of Christian discipleship is an invitation to die for a righteous cause.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 2, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

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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 James Arthur MacKinnon,

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), page 60

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