13 February 2017

Speaking Justice to Power

It has been less than three weeks. America, and your tardy scribe has been seized by the Trump reality show.

Today is the day the Episcopal Church commemorates two amazing men: Richard Allen and Absalom Jones. In 1786,in part because these two men were effective lay people who brought other free black people into their Methodist congregation: St. George's. In a stunningly stupid and unChristian moment, the white members voted to restrict the blacks to the balcony. They did not even have the courage to publish the vote. Blacks including Allen and Jones discovered the infamy when ushers told them to move during the opening Sunday prayer. They and a number of other black members did not walk up to the balcony, they walked out.

The two men went two different and significant ways. Allen wanted to remain Methodist, and eventually founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church. That body exists to this day, and continues to preach and celebrate the Gospel. Jones met with Bishop White (my personal hero among those founding the Episcopal Church.) White granted permission for the founding of a new parish, led by Jones who moved from lay leader to priest over time. That congregation exists.

After we read the story of Allen and Jones, the intervention of Bp. White, and the lessons for the commemoration at Morning Prayer, we were both amazed at the racism, and stupidity of the White congregation, and the courage and will of the affronted Black Christians. There is no memorial for the racists of St. George's. They are in well deserved anonymity while we recall and celebrate Allen, Jones, and White.

We were fortunate to have Mission St. Clare's resources for Morning Prayer with an appropriate prayer and readings. is the source page, which I have used as a source for much of the history above. Forward Movement has another excellent resource. I recommend both.

Posts, like sermons about readings and commemorations face the question, what does the lessons and / or history tell us about how we should live today? That requires us to put the story in context of the times. And that leads us to the Trump Administration. They came to power on a wave of relatively low education, white, male voters. Conflating them with the voters at St. George's is disturbingly easy. What to do about them is another matter.

On the one hand, the idea of amending the Constitution to require an exam in critical thinking skills or a BA/BS for registration is tempting. Applying the rule exclusively to white men based on performance is also attractive. But neither is going to happen, so we need to consider other avenues.

  1. We need to organize and win the 2018 election.
  2. We need to use the authority of a new Congress to limit the damage the Trump Administration can inflict.
  3. We need effective legal challenges to each and every executive order filed, whenever counsel can identify opportunities.
  4. Perhaps most importantly we need credible challenges to every Republican State legislator and governor.
We also need to shout the message of Christian diversity, that Jesus is not the captive icon of White right wing politicians but rather the loving messiah and son of the loving God. So is this view political? Of course. So was the anti-slavery movement, begun and nurtured in white and black churches, the civil rights movement begun and nurtured by black and then white churches and synagogues in the 1960's. Using the phrase "that is political" as an excuse to avoid being engaged is not Christian it is craven.


RonF said...

"On the one hand, the idea of amending the Constitution to require an exam in critical thinking skills or a BA/BS for registration is tempting."

Laws requiring the attainment of a certain level of education or the demonstration of the ability to read were used for decades in America to deny the ability of people such as Richard Allen and Absalom Jones to vote. And from what I have seen in reports from our campuses, from talking to college graduates and from studies done on the matter, the attainment of a BS/BA very often does NOT result in learning critical thinking skills - which should hardly surprise anyone when you see to what lengths are gone to these days to keep ideas that offend particular political or social viewpoints from being discussed or even expressed on campus.

This is an INCREDIBLY elitist and biased concept.


Unknown said...

none of what you suggest would help at all, your plans make things worse. When the elite are playing "good cop bad cop" DONT GO FOR GOOD COPS CARROT just because you are afraid of bad cops stick. Don't be submissive! they depend on reverse psychology to get people to do what they want us to do as if it was what we wanted. Elections don't matter! after Egypt coup anyone supporting democratic reform as a solution must be naïve or not that innocent. What is needed is to expose the lies and the worthless people who use them. We need attacks on good cop! The Elizabeth warrens j tapper and accosta's that the administration is giving free publicity to should be marginalized! just like Valerie Plame Wilson.

Unknown said...

what is needed is pardons for snowden and manning. plus Mohammad ElBaradei, abdel Fattah el-sisi and all the terrorist's backed by the cia in Aleppo should face the noose. Nothing the sham courts say matter until the guilty are dead. Judges keep state secrets. it says in the bible that by judging others you open up yourself to being judged. Nothing I would like to see more than gods judgment rendered onto the flesh of Americas judges. Last thing I want to see is these pawns of tyranny being made into heroes by our controlled media. So No! Challenging pro-wrestler bad cop trumps executive orders in the courts just means giving money to CIA and fbi front groups that pose as charities and activists. spb

Unknown said...
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JimB said...

I see humor does not work here. Of course we won't limit White Male Votes.Why that would be un-American. Black votes, that is good Republican administration!

Take a good look at Ohio, Texas, and South Carolina's so-called improved oter security laws, which somehow only make it harder f'or African Americans to vote. Then at least consider something called, "White Privilege." Remember when you do that if you are white and claim you are not privileged, you are.


JimB said...

Opps, make that "voter" not "oter". I hate typos.

JimB said...

I do not accept the premise that anyone is playing any kind of cop. I see no evidence, and in fact in the case of Steven Miller I see something very other.

If I understand the law correctly, generally, not always but generally, pardons follow convictions. That alone would disqualify Mr. Snowden at this time. I have some sympathy for Manning and frankly no knowledge of the others. We have no judicial authority over Aleppo.

Your rant against the judiciary fails my first test, and will be deleted.

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