Archive for the ‘Women’s Suffrage’ Tag

Feast of Octavia Hill (August 13)   1 comment

Above:  Octavia Hill, by John Singer Sargent

Image in the Public Domain

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

OCTAVIA HILL (DECEMBER 3, 1838-AUGUST 13, 1912)

English Social Reformer

Octavia Hill comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Church of England.

Hill devoted most of her long life to helping poor people.  She was simultaneously of her time and ahead of it.  Our saint, for example, opposed women’s suffrage; she accepted the “separate spheres” theory, then a societal norm.  Hill, who did much to provide affordable housing for poor people, also opposed affordable public housing.  Furthermore, her opposition to government programs to help the impoverished extended to social services and social security.  Yet Hill did much to create the National Trust, preserving green areas and places of historical interest for the common good.

One can acknowledge the good a person did while partially disagreeing with him or her.

Hill, born in Wisbach, Isle of Ely, England, Cambridgeshire, on December 3, 1838, came from a once-prosperous family.  Her father was James Hill, a corn merchant and a former banker.  James Hill, twice widowed, had five sons and daughter when he married his former governess, Caroline Southwood Smith, in 1835.  By 1840, he had collapsed mentally and gone bankrupt.  Caroline’s father, Dr. James Southwood Smith, provided for the family financially and emotionally.  He helped to raise his granddaughter, Octavia, eighth daughter and tenth child of James Hill.

Our saint’s upbringing informed the rest of her life.  The grandfather’s influence in Octavia’s life became obvious over time.  He, a pioneer in urban sanitary reform, took a great interests in social problems, such as affordable urban housing and child labor in mines.  Caroline Hill’s special interest in progressive education also influenced our saint.  Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-1872), a family friend and a leader in the Christian Socialist movement, added her influences, too.

Hill grew up to become quite a formidable, functional presence.  Friend Henrietta Barnett (1844-1913) noted our saint’s obliviousness to fashion.  Others considered Hill ruthless and despotic.  Frederick Temple (1821-1902) encountered our saint while he was still the Bishop of London (1885-1896).  At an ecclesiastical meeting, she spoke for about half an hour.  The future Archbishop of Canterbury recalled,

I never had such a beating in all my life.

Hill worked for the improvement of the lives and circumstances of poor people starting when she was 14 years old.  At that young age, she began to lead a workroom for a guild providing employment for poor school children.  She taught these women how to make toys for children.  Our saint knew these children and their terrible living conditions.  Throughout the rest of her life, making and maintaining a personal connection with those she helped was crucial in her mind.  For example, the impersonal nature of public housing was why she opposed it.

Hill also emphasized teaching self-reliance.  She approved any well-intentioned effort (especially public) she perceived as threatening self-reliance.  Yet Hill was no “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” person.  And she was obviously not a Social Darwinist, one who insisted that the wealthy were superior because they were rich, and, therefore, owed the less fortunate nothing.  To the contrary, our saint affirmed that the more fortunate must never ignore their obligations to the poor.

That sense of obligation, combined with a moral critique of legislative attempts to provide affordable housing, led her to provide affordable housing.  When our saint learned of the shortage of affordable housing for poor people for whom and to whom she was accountable, she started providing affordable housing.  With the help of friend John Ruskin (1819-1900), another humanitarian, she became a land lady at Paradise Place, Marylebone, London, in 1865.  Over the years, the number of cottages, initially three, increased.  Ruskin used his inheritance to acquire cottages for rent; Hill managed them.  Our saint and her rent collectors (all female) doubled as social workers.  Hill was building a community.

As the years passed, Hill managed more communities in London.  She worked hard, as did her employees.  So did her tenants.  In fact, Hill overworked herself.  After collapsing in 1877, our saint had to rest for several months.

Hill, demanding of herself and others, also recognized the importance of access to open spaces and the blue sky, especially in the cases of the urban poor.  Therefore, our saint worked to conserve open, green spices.  She coined the term “Green Belt,” lobbied and helped to conserve and preserve London suburban woodlands, and laid the foundation for the National Trust, founded in 1893.  Furthermore, Hill lobbied against any encroachment of industrialization upon natural beauty in certain areas.  Proposed construction of railroads in some places aroused her formidable ire.

As years passed, Hill’s influence spread.  Others in England and abroad copied her model for providing affordable housing.

Our saint, aged 81 years, died in Marylebone, London, on August 13, 1912.

The lack of affordable housing remains a major problem around the world.  It is a major problem in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, where I live.  The local unified government is working with the private sector to alleviate the matter.  How to provide affordable housing in the optimal matter is a quandary for which more than one proper solution exists.  Local circumstances are always germane.  What works well in one place may not work well somewhere else.  The solution for which Octavia Hill advocated for which she put into effect, therefore, may fit in some localities yet not in others.  General principles are timeless.  Yet the mechanics of putting them into effect are not.  So be it.

But let us–you, O reader, and I–remember Octavia Hill as one who did something, did it well, and made a major, positive difference in the lives of vulnerable people where and when she was.  May we, empowered by grace, what out saint did–leave our corner of the world better than we found it.  That is our task.  That is also the task of those who will come after us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 5, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL RAHNER, JESUIT PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF AMBROSE PHILLIPPS DE LISLE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CONVERT, SPIRITUAL WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF SPIRITUAL WRITINGS; FOUNDER OF MOUNT SAINT BERNARD ABBEY

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER MACASSOLI OF VIGEVANO, FRANCISCAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT EUSEBIUS OF CREMONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ION COSTIST, FRANCISCAN LAY BROTHER

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

Lord 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,

peace to the troubled, 

and rest to the weary;

through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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

Feast of Florence Spearing Randolph (August 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Florence Spearing Randolph

Image in the Public Domain

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

FLORENCE SPEARING RANDOLPH (AUGUST 9, 1866-DECEMBER 28, 1951)

First Female Ordained Minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

Florence Spearing Randolph 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).

We mere mortals frequently mistake societal norms and mores for divine standards.  How we define proper gender roles provides many examples of this pattern.  Hence the subordination of women, dressed up as the law of God, becomes and remains socially acceptable.  Many women internalize these unjust societal patterns and ascribe them to God.  Many of them eventually change their minds and fulfill their sacred vocations, fortunately.

Florence Spearing, born in Charleston, South Carolina, on August 9, 1866, came from a free African-American family.  She was a daughter of Anna Smith Spearing and cabinet maker John Spearing.  Our saint, educated at Avery Normal Institute, Charleston, trained as a dress maker.  She moved to Jersey City, New Jersey, and lived with her sister Lena, there.  Making dresses in Jersey City was substantially more lucrative in Jersey City than in Charleston.

Florence married Hugh Randolph of Richmond, Virginia, in 1884.  He was a cook on Pullman trains.  The couple had one child, Leah Viola, born in 1887.  Hugh died in 1913.

Our saint, raised a Methodist, joined the church at the age of 13 years.  She remained a life-long member.  In Jersey City, she joined the local African Methodist Episcopal Zion (A.M.E. Zion) church.  Randolph taught Sunday School and became a youth leader.  She also studied the Bible under the tutelage of A.M.E. Zion minister, George E. Biddle, a scholar of Greek and Hebrew, as well as a Yale graduate.  Biddle encouraged Randolph to violate a specific gender norm; he told her she should preach.

Our saint, initially reluctant, eventually agreed; she became an exhorter.  Randolph, starting in 1888, exhorted in both White and African-American congregations.  Yet, for a while, she remained reluctant for anyone to call her a “preaching woman.”  Our saint continued to oppose the ordination of women, for a time.  Yet, as time passed, Randolph accepted her vocation.  She asked God for a sign.  Our saint prayed that, if she were supposed to preach full-time, that her dress-making business would fail within a year, and that her exhorting would succeed.  She received that sign.

Randolph had accepted her vocation.  Many within the A.M.E. Zion Church had not, however.  After much debate in denominational officialdom, our saint received her license to preach in 1897, became an ordained deacon in 1900, and received ordination as an elder in 1903.  She also served as a delegate to the Third Methodist Ecumenical Conference, London, in 1901.

Randolph excelled as a pastor.  From 1903 to 1922, she rehabilitated a series of small, problematic congregations in New Jersey and New York.  After she had done her work in one church, she moved on to another one.  A “nice young man” always succeeded her.  During this time, our saint also found the time for social reform.  She, having joined the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) in 1892, lectured for them.  Randolph, organized the New Jersey Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1915.  She served as its president for 12 years.  Our saint also sat on the Executive Committee of the New Jersey Suffrage Association, starting in 1917.  Furthermore, Randolph served as the President of the Missionary Society of New Jersey.  And she was the chaplain of the Northeastern Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs in 1918 and 1919.

Our saint, a supporter of foreign missions, traveled in Liberia and Gold Coast (now Ghana) in 1922-1924.  This work was consistent with her collection of and distribution of supplies for missionaries.

Randolph’s final pastorate was Wallace Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, organized in 1923.  When she arrived at the congregation in Summit, New Jersey, in 1925, the church was small; it had 35 members.  The appointment, initially meant to be temporary, terminated with her retirement, in 1946.  Our saint built up the congregation and presided over the construction of its edifice in 1937.  During this pastorage, she made history by becoming the first African-American woman to matriculate at Drew University, in 1926.

Our saint, aged 85 years, died in Jersey City, on December 28, 1951.   Many of her sermons, now published, have survived; relatives salvaged them.

Drew University’s Theological School grants the Reverend Florence Spearing Randolph Prize.

I wonder how much human potential well-meaning, even devout, people have squandered and suppressed in others or in themselves because of allegiance to misplaced societal norms.  I also wonder how much better society would be without that squandering and suppression of human potential.  And I thank God for those who have challenged and continue to challenge such destructive societal norms, for the common good.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 24, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATTHIAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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

Almighty God, we praise you for the men and women you have sent

to call the Church to its tasks and renew its life [such as your servant Florence Spearing Randolph].

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 kingdom;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 37

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

Feast of Alice Paul (July 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Alice Paul, 1918

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-37937

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

ALICE STOKES PAUL (JANUARY 11, 1885-JULY 9, 1977)

U.S. Quaker Women’s Rights Activist

Alice Paul‘s Quaker faith, with its egalitarian elements, informed and compelled her feminist activism.

Our saint came from a devout Quaker family that valued education and social progressivism.  She, born in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, on January  11, 1885, was a daughter of William Mickle Paul, I (1850-1902), and Tacie Parry Paul (1859-1930).  Alice’s siblings were William Mickle Paul, II (1886-1958), Helen Paul Shearer (1889-1971), and Parry Haines Paul (1895-1956).  Tacie, a suffragette, took young Alice to suffragette meetings.  The influence lasted.

Paul, well-educated, changed her academic course mid-stream.  She, a graduate of Moorestown Friends School, Moorestown,  New Jersey, matriculated at Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, as a biology major (B.A., 1905).  A year-long fellowship (1905-1906) at a settlement house on the Lower East Side of Manhattan led to graduate studies in economics, sociology, and political science at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (M.A., 1907).  During the next three years, Paul lived in England.  She studied at the Woodbrooke Quaker Centre, Birmingham; the University of Birmingham; and the London School of Economics.  Our saint also became a militant suffragette.  She endured three prison sentences.  Paul, on hunger strikes, also endured forced feedings.  Our saint, back in the United States of America in 1910, earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.  Her dissertation was “The Legal Standing of Women in Pennsylvania.”

Paul’s militant feminism, costly to her, benefited many women and the United States of America.  She, one of the founders of the National Woman’s Party (1916), protested, marched, and went to prison.  She and her sister activists, incarcerated unjustly in the “land of the free” that fought World War I allegedly to “make the world safe for democracy,” sought to allow women in all states to vote.  Women could vote in some states and territories yet not others prior to the ratification (1920) of the Nineteenth Amendment.  In prison, Paul and her sister activists, on hunger strikes, endured forced feedings.

(Thomas) Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America (1913-1921), was a difficult historical figure.  He was an unapologetic White Supremacist who segregated the District of Columbia.  (His father, the Reverend Joseph Ruggles Wilson, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Georgia, in 1861, had preached in favor of race-based chattel slavery.  Then Joseph had become a founding father of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America, committed to defending slavery as part of theological orthodoxy.  The apple did not fall far from the tree; Thomas was similar to Joseph.)  In the presidential election of 1912, Wilson, the nominee of the Democratic Party, was not the most progressive candidate.  That mantle fell to the Socialist Party’s Eugene V. Debs.  Progressive Party nominee and former Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, whose platform included universal health care, was more progressive than Wilson.  Wilson, as President, usually governed as a conservative.  He governed as a progressive when he perceived that doing so was to his political advantage, such as shortly prior to the election of 1916, so he could attract the votes of many progressives during the Progressive Era.  Wilson, long an opponent of women’s suffrage, was a target for Paul’s activism.  Her militant tactics paid off; Wilson became a champion of women’s suffrage as the political winds changed course.

(Aside:  In case I have not been sufficiently clear, O reader, I do not like Woodrow Wilson.  I would not name an outhouse after him.  To do so would insult the outhouse.)

Paul studied law after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.  She earned her law degrees (through Doctor of Civil Laws) from the Washington College of Law, American University, Washington, D.C., in 1922, 1927, and 1928.

Paul spent most of the rest of her life working for the legal equality of men and women under the law.  She co-wrote successive versions of the Equal Rights Amendment, starting in 1923, and lobbied for all of them.  Critics came from both the Right and on the Left.  On the Right, support for patriarchy prevailed.  On the Left, fears of losing gender-based protections for women prompted opposition.  In Paul’s mind, anything other than legal egalitarianism for men and women constituted “legalized inequality.”  Our saint also helped to add gender as one of the categories in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Paul, who kept her personal life private and never married, died in Moorestown, New Jersey, on July 9, 1977.  She was 92 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN AND ANATOLIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCHS; AND SAINTS AGATHO, LEO II, AND BENEDICT II, BISHOPS OF ROME; DEFENDERS OF CHRISTOLOGICAL ORTHODOXY

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIONYSIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA, AND CHURCH FATHER; SAINT EUSEBIUS OF LAODICEA, BISHOP OF LAODICEA; AND SAINT ANATOLIUS OF ALEXANDRIA, BISHOP OF LAODICEA

THE FEAST OF SAINT HELIODORUS OF ALTINUM, ASSOCIATE OF SAINT JEROME, AND BISHOP OF ALTINUM

THE FEAST OF IMMANUEL NITSCHMANN, GERMAN-AMERICAN MORAVIAN MINISTER AND MUSICIAN; HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW, JACOB VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP, MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND EDUCATOR; HIS SON, WILLIAM HENRY VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP; HIS BROTHER, CARL ANTON VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN MINISTER, MUSICIAN, COMPOSER, AND EDUCATOR; HIS DAUGHTER, LISETTE (LIZETTA) MARIA VAN VLECK MEINUNG; AND HER SISTER, AMELIA ADELAIDE VAN VLECK, U.S. MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN CENNICK, BRITISH MORAVIAN EVANGELIST AND HYMN WRITER

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

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 Alice Paul] to use our freedom

to bring justice among people and nations, to the glory of your name;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-14

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), 370

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

Legislating Morality   2 comments

Above:  Principles of the Prohibition Party, 1888

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-pga-07977

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

You can’t legislate morality.

That argument is objectively false.  First, a review of law-making reveals many examples of explicit appeals to morality in legislative proposals, many of which have become laws.  I argue that if someone has done something, doing it must be possible.  Second, all acts of legislation are examples of legislating morality.  One might legitimately question many of the moral codes informing much legislation, but the existence of those moral codes is objective reality.

In the United States of America perhaps the example most frequently cited to support the objectively false claim that one cannot legislate morality is the prohibition of liquor (1920-1933).  (Interestingly, the Eighteenth Amendment (1920) to the Constitution barred the manufacture, sale, and transportation of liquor, but not the consumption of it.  One could theoretically drink it legally so long as one did not purchase, manufacture, or transport it.  There were also exceptions in the law for sacramental wine, a large loophole.)  The failed experiment of Prohibition, rooted in morality, nativism, and xenophobia, actually serves best as an example of the law of unexpected consequences more than anything else.  I posit that, in the 1920s and 1930s, the most enthusiastic supporters of Prohibition were the bosses of organized crime, men profiting beyond the most extravagant dreams of avarice from opportunities the law created.

The real questions, then, are when legislating morality is more effective, when it is less effective, and when it is ineffective.  One might point (correctly) to the formal end of race-based chattel slavery via the Thirteenth Amendment (1865) to the Constitution of the United States of America as both necessary and morally correct.  Likewise, one might also point to all expansions of civil rights, from women’s suffrage to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Voting Rights Act (1965) to fair housing laws and beyond.  Whenever discrimination is part of the law, part of the remedy must also be part of the law.  But to what extent?  The answer to that question can be difficult to discern.  Furthermore, although laws by themselves cannot change attitudes, they can change actions.  The change in actions can alter attitudes eventually.

Ultimately we in our societies–especially in the global West–need what the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking on April 4, 1967, called

a radical revolution of values.

We need to value people more than property, wealth, and, for lack of a better word, things.  We need to move beyond lip service to that proposition and change attitudes for the better, and therefore improve society.  If we do that, the need to legislate morality will decrease.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 29, 2018 COMMON ERA

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