From the Rector
Grace and peace. I am back from a visit to Nebraska to see my parents and to attend the ordination of our recent seminarian Tony Anderson. Things went well all around. That is not to say that things were going well in our country at the same time. We are in tense times and they did not begin on January 20, 2017. They have been festering for generations. We are looking back at our history and realizing that, although we consider ourselves a great nation, there are episodes in our past that we would like to forget (which is impossible). We have evolved over time and there are some who are tired of celebrating people who represent who we were because they think that they no longer represent who we are.
I got a feel for this when I moved to Arlington in 2010. I met the mover who picked up my things in Austin and drove them across country. I got to know him on that end, so I knew that he was an African-American man. When he called me the day before arriving in Arlington, I started to give him directions to my place. I didn’t know much about the geography of the area, but I felt uncomfortable telling him to continue on Jefferson Davis until you turn on Robert E. Lee Highway. I was embarrassed and I was sorry that he was having to make those turns onto roads memorializing leaders of the Confederacy.
We do need to ask ourselves how we come to terms with our past. There were Episcopalians (both lay members and clergy) who owned slaves (including George Washington and Robert E. Lee). I could imagine that if they were alive today, they would think differently about slavery, but, back then, they profited from the labor of a people they purchased. In 200 years, will the choices I make as a Christian be considered reprehensible, unbecoming, and unworthy?
I think the more difficult question is how do we love (like Jesus loves) in a world that is full of hate and condemnation. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists are groups built around hate. They destroy who we are and what we hold dear. But there are no people who are free from bias and prejudice. We all have work to do to come to terms with who we are. That is the work of the soul. I hope it is work that we can do together, in conversation, here at St. Patrick’s.
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