Trumpocalpyse Now


Protest at Trump Tower in New York Saturday. (Christopher Lee/The New York Times)

It is the Friday night after Election Day as I write this, and I’ve just finished hosting our Video Evensong webcast. It has been a difficult week for millions of Americans, including me and most of our webcasters – as accustomed as we are to praying our way through bad news all around the world. This election was, metaphorically speaking, like this time, Hurricane Katrina blew through all our living rooms and trashed the place. Almost all of us felt personally devastated; and those who might not have voted the way we did, or had the same reaction to the results, knew very well how much their liberal friends were hurting. We’re a great group that way. Since we get together 11 times a week, we know each other well, and everyone is full of both faith and empathy. So we had some discussions among ourselves a time or two after the webcasts. I’m proud of how we all handled ourselves. No one was burdened, the hurt was mostly left unsaid, but did come out as needed – and we saw that while we agree on most things, we don’t agree about everything, and we have no trouble living with that fact.

So I’m happy with my band(width) mates.

But I’m not happy, not at all; Tuesday was one of the darkest days of my life. Our fellow Americans elected the worst imaginable president. We have been let down by our fellow citizens, including members of our own coalition. (“Hillary’s not Barack, so I’m staying home.”) When have we ever seen post-election violence before?

We haven’t, not in our lifetimes. According to historian Douglas Brinkley, the last time was 1860 after the election of Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War.


Portland, Oregon had a small riot late Friday, after most protesters had dispersed. Police blamed anarchists; one person was shot. (Cole Howard/Reuters)

In my mind the voters have destroyed America. I have no belief in the place anymore; the very idea of America has left me. The country we used to have would never have elected this sleazeball. But that country no longer exists. That is a very, very big deal!

California, here I come – at least the thought passes through my mind. (Now would be a good time for me to leave Indiana once and for all.) But I live in relative poverty and could never afford to live on the West Coast. On top of that I hate earthquakes.

The election of you-know-who fell on me like a ton of bricks; I was peaceably strolling by last Tuesday, minding my own business, when the Big One hit and that apartment building fell on me. I’m still in shock.

I keep returning to the thought that we’ve failed our grandchildren – and I don’t even have any. I visualize my grandparents in heaven grabbing me by the lapels and asking me, “How did you let this happen?”

Hey, don’t blame me; I went Democrat when I was 13. That was the year of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and I campaigned for the entire Democratic ticket. Barry Goldwater rejected the Civil Rights Act and I rejected the politics of where I’m from.

Now, 52 years later, every one of them spent in political activism, I quit.

I will do whatever I can to help the poor and oppressed, but I don’t believe in the United States anymore. No more politics for me.

Eight years ago I was Barack Obama’s county coordinator, and we carried Indiana! Now, I just don’t have the time. Y’all do what you want. Spread your nuclear arms all over the world, I’m done. Pollute the air and water, make big money!

Demonize Jews and Muslims? No. I despise every last human on the face of the earth who voted for that.

The racism. The misogyny. The personality disorder!


Los Angeles a few days ago. After the election in 2000, when the Supreme Court made George W. Bush president, I said “Not my Supreme Court.” Many people today say “Not my President.” I’m past all that; not my country. We’ve just declared political war on tens of millions of our fellow citizens, and I won’t be part of that. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

And the fundamentalists who ate it up like Post Toasties. I have to laugh at their faux Christianity. They’re such frauds, Jesus told us all about it. On some level, I finally find them comical. Better than demonic, I guess; they know not what they do.

Now this language may surprise you, so don’t take me the wrong way and I’ll try to be clear. Here’s what the election said to me as a religious person. I believe the United States is now under God’s judgment. We’ve avoided it for 250-odd years despite genocide and slavery, but this week da shit done hit da fan.

For me personally, I think the message is that I must not idolize the government I happen to live under, despite the nobility of its stated ideals. Jesus didn’t idolize the Roman Empire and we mustn’t deify our version of it either.

In the lectionary we’ve been reading a lot of prophecy lately, as opposed to history; that’s one way to tell that Advent’s coming. And with the OT prophets we also get the Divine Vision of John, that which shall be revealed. He writes vividly of the Fall of Babylon, and as we read those passages last week I couldn’t help thinking of the USA. The city’s biggest sin was greed, and that reminds me of us.

Trump isn’t going to restore jobs in coal country, Detroit or Gary or my hometown. The rich will get richer and the rest are just screwed.

That’s the way it’s always been, Christians know, but for a little while America seemed to promise otherwise.

I’m not hurting particularly for Gay people yet, but I want to mourn with African-Americans. And the disabled and Mexicans and refugees and teenage beauty queens who didn’t deserve to have a future president of Babylon walk into their changing room, because he owned the place and thought he owned them.

What is my mother going to say? That’s what I wonder. My grandparents were always nice to me; my mother’s going to be so ticked off.

She might even have voted for Hillary this time, and then complained about it constantly for four years. She wouldn’t have been able to stand the mention of That Man’s name in her presence. Diehard Republican, my Mom. She put Bruce Willis to shame.

She wouldn’t have recognized this idiot as a member of her party. She’d have been totally irate that she paid taxes while he didn’t. She was a capitalist; I am not.

I bet she started raking coals in hell when Trump insulted that Gold Star family because they’re Muslim. She’d spare the Muslims and throw Trump in once she got her fire going real good.

This all becomes so personal; here I am talking about my ancestors, and above I was talking about my friends.

God’s judgment is firm; I feel comfortable claiming this, that God does not permit without consequences the demonization of vast social groups by politicians, governments, churches or countries.

I think we’re under the judgment; and I think we’ve just witnessed the beginning of the Fall of Babylon. Does this sound extreme to you, alarmist?

If I’m right, other countries will take our place; China’s the most logical one. Way to go, Rust Belt!

This certainly is a time for robust Federalism on the West Coast. I’d think an American decline, if it happens, would hurt Silicon Valley and educated, innovative people everywhere. Discrimination costs money; inclusion makes money. We can’t have a scientist who would cure cancer shut out of school because she’s Black or Muslim or an immigrant. If that’s how we’re going to operate, other countries will pick up the slack, and so will their companies.

The idea of America depends on its living up to its ideals. If we don’t have those, we don’t have the overwhelming advantage they’ve given us.

I’m still weighing whether I have to give up newspapers now, to avoid the normalization of Trump as if he’s just the latest in a long line of presidents. I have no interest beyond the headlines in anything he says or does, much less the climate change denier he’s putting in charge of the Environmental Pollution Agency, or who’s the next secretary of Bombing the Middle East.

If somehow Trump turns out better than I expect, I will celebrate that – but there’s virtually no chance of it, considering that two days after he was elected to be world strongman, he went on Twitter to  denounce the demonstrations against him as the work of “professional protesters.” They’re mostly high school and college kids, but the first words out of his fingers were a lie!

He’s not going to change once he gets sworn in; his narcissism and disorganization will consume him. I spent years on the front lines in mental health; the last person you want in the White House is a personality disorder. Psychotic Nixon would make Trump look good. Next election, let’s restrict the franchise to psych nurses.

Trump has no core at the center of his personality; that’s why he’s so grandiose, to fill up the emptiness inside. The man has no friends; the day after he’s sworn in he’s going to say to himself, “Is that all there is to being president?”

Don’t blame me, I voted for Hillary, even though I don’t like or trust the witch. (I haven’t indulged my tempting Sanders fantasy; the fact is we’ll never know how he’d have matched up against this fool. Thank you, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and assorted media scum.)


San Diego, and dozens of other cities, marching against bigots and climate change deniers in the White House. (Sandy Huffaker/Reuters)

As for my congregation, I close with this: we’re right to make fun of churches with American flags in the sanctuary. We’re right not to worship America’s PR machine. There’s only one God and we must have no other before him, or even near him.

As I get older I’m really letting go of a lot of things, including some of my own shameful delusions; now it turns out I have to give up politics too as any kind of answer. Justice is rare in this world; injustice is more common.

Keep fighting injustice, never give in to it, but our fellow citizens have let us down, which is where the betrayal naturally comes from; the Founders warned us and countless others since. Now it’s happened, we are betrayed, and God has allowed this to happen (along with millions of non-voters).

Our special status as a nation is gone, at least to me. Instead, our help is in the Name of the Lord.

I’ll give Mother Mary the last word. Her song isn’t sweetness and light, it’s a curse and a cry of liberation.

My soul doth magnify the Lord, *
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
For he hath regarded *
the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold from henceforth *
all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me, *
and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him *
throughout all generations.
He hath showed strength with his arm; *
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, *
and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel, *
as he promised to our forefathers,
Abraham and his seed for ever. Amen.++

Retreat Fees Announced: $400 Per Person, Double Occupancy, before June 30

We’ve set the final costs for our upcoming Daily Office Spiritual Retreat at Waycross in southern Indiana August 20-23, 2015, and they’re lower than expected!

Fees are $500 per person, double occupancy (single occupancy $600), with an early-bird discount of $100 for registrations and deposits received by June 30.

That means $400 for the most popular option, double occupancy, if you act soon.

Some scholarships are available; write to the Vicar at joshtom (at) mediacombb (dot) com.

Deposits ($250) are due with reservation, with final payment due August 1. Cancellations will be accepted and refunds made, minus a $50 cancellation fee, before June 30.

Watch for the registration form soon to appear on this site, including full particulars. Deposits can be paid through PayPal or by check to the Diocese of Indianapolis, marked Daily Office Retreat.

Take a look!++

Extracurricular Vicar

Banners suitable for St. Luke's Cathedral, Orlando.

Banners suitable for St. Luke’s Cathedral, Orlando.

[UPDATE: I looked at various registration forms and decided that I’d better check with our diocesan web developer first.]

For a couple of weeks now I’ve been juggling some off-site issues affecting the Church, and today I’m wanting to rebalance. Both concern public screwups by Episcopal clergy: at General Theological Seminary, which is nearing collapse if not already there, and at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Orlando, where the dean refused to baptize a baby with two Gay dads.

We featured the latter yesterday at Morning Prayer, and a few hours later the news got reported by The Huffington Post and The Orlando Sentinel. I helped facilitate the HuffPo article – in a minor way, probably, but their religion editor the Rev. Paul Raushenbush contacted me and I did what I could.

(Aside: he’s a descendant of Walter Rauschenbusch, the “social gospel” theologian and author whose feast day is July 2.)

I’ve also been in touch with him about a letter I wrote with 19 co-signers, asking the Attorney General of New York State to investigate whether laws have been broken at GTS. I organized that initiative on Facebook. It’s been reported in three or four church publications in the USA and Britain.

These activities have taken my time, and they’re not directly related to The Daily Office. I should have been organizing our retreat this summer at Waycross and putting together the registration form I promised to post last Monday. I hope to get to that later today.

I don’t really feel bad about any of this; if anything I feel proud of what I’ve done, whether it’s ultimately effective or not. But I feel this tension between my job and my vocation.

For some reason God seems to have given me an ability and a willingness to speak up and take action about problems other people notice but don’t know what to do with. I’ve done it all my life. What seems obvious to me does not seem obvious to anyone else – but when I propose a way forward, they respond with real help and support.

I seem to be one of those fools who rush in “where angels fear to tread” – except it’s never the angels who are afraid, it’s the humans. From marching with a few hundred others in the Stonewall 5 demonstration in New York when I was 23 – back when these were protest marches, not “Pride Parades” – to saving the School of Social Work from the wrecking ball at my alma mater, to being the first openly-Gay person to use his full, real name in the newspaper in Cincinnati, to freeing Nigeria’s only Gay activist from threats on his life by the government and Anglican Church thugs, to starting the world’s second oldest AIDS organization and many more examples, I just find myself at the center of the action sometimes.

When I was an undergraduate, the president of the University of Cincinnati wanted to abolish the College of Community Services and move the School of Social Work  from there to the College of Education. It would have meant that Social Work lost its accreditation; it could be an independent School or part of a similar professional college, but not education. Students and faculty wrung their hands, no one knew how to stop the president, the board of trustees were getting ready to vote on it - when I piped up and said,

When I was an undergraduate, the president of the University of Cincinnati wanted to abolish the College of Community Services and move the School of Social Work from there to the College of Education. It would have meant that Social Work lost its accreditation; it could be an independent School or part of a similar professional college, but not education. Students and faculty wrung their hands, no one knew how to stop the president, the board of trustees were getting ready to vote on it, our degrees would soon be worthless – so I piped up and said, “I know how to stop this.” We organized (“Yes for CCS!”), made up flyers, contacted the media, held a protest march, I ran for the Student Senate; 33 years later the urban university still has an accredited School of Social Work. I continue to marvel at all the impotent hang-wringing; “social work” refers to community organizing, not cranking out caseworkers and psychotherapists.

If I’m correct that this is part of my vocation from God, you can see why I get caught up in such things and don’t feel sorry about it later.

I'm from this era. Not the giant public party era, brought to you by some brand of vodka. (Leonard Fink)

I’m from this era. Not the giant public party era, brought to you by some brand of vodka.

We’re going to get that baby baptized, I promise; the homophobic bishop is meeting with the parents right now as I write this, trying to tap-dance his way out of the public relations disaster he and the cathedral dean created. The baby’s parents have done everything Episcopalians ask and expect of them prior to baptism, and there is no justification for delaying this child’s salvation, no matter how warped the theology of that dean.

This is the baby waiting for salvation and for justice, snoozing next to one of his dads. The kid's name is Jack; let's pray for them.

This is the baby waiting for salvation and for justice, snoozing next to one of his dads. The kid’s name is Jack; let’s pray for them.

(The dean’s theology of baptism probably isn’t what’s warped, it’s his theology of human sexuality; but since he mixed the two up in one horrible decision, my phrase applies. Phrases are what I’m good at, if you haven’t noticed; phrases are how I’ve won almost every public battle I’ve ever been in.)

So now I’m going to post two more services, and try to design that registration form with a free trial from Constant Contact. I’m also awaiting a call from our Adobe Connect salesman.

Meanwhile here’s a video by the labyrinth designer John E. Ridder of Indianapolis, whom I’m trying to line up for our retreat. I walked on one of his portable mazes last Saturday during a quiet day at my parish, run by Amy Paget, who will be staffing our retreat.

Pray that God gives me enough hours in the day.++

A smaller crowd means a shorter service. Now let’s plan on a bigger crowd.


We just finished this morning’s Daily Office webcast, and Gwen remarked on its brevity. Attendance was only 14, including one visitor. Lower attendance than usual is what made it shorter, even though it was 2 minutes longer than it’s supposed to be.

But every day we get new people trying us out. The site itself is growing by leaps and bounds, especially because of Facebook and Twitter, and now I’m wondering what we’d do with twice as many people. We need to start expecting them.

Clint led a smooth service today, and even called on me to help read the psalm. I don’t usually read because I’m producing, and we want everyone else to participate as much as possible.

He and I have always worried a bit about how long the service runs. People are busy in the morning, whether they’re with us live or watching later; it’s very common that someone who’s joined us live has to leave before the end of the service, which is perfectly okay. We’re glad every time someone joins us for any portion of the service.

There are several ways to look at the question of service length. The first is that it takes however long it takes. So no apologies.

But the longer it runs, the less likely that someone will join us at all.

Of our 5000 followers, only 0.5% have ever attended a live webcast on any given day. We’re very glad, therefore, that we can record the service and make it available for streaming immediately. H/t Adobe Connect.

We know that a 9 a.m. start time is too late for the East, while a 5 a.m. service is too early for the West. This is a big continent, and no single time will work for everyone. If we had the staff to run four webcasts, starting each one at 7 or 8 a.m. per time zone, that would be ideal. But we don’t have the staff for that, and with only 25 people joining our “big” national webcast, trying to run four services per morning is impractical.

Having said that, I remain a bit frustrated that we run long every day. And my annoyance is compounded by my sad lack of diplomacy and tact, because I don’t feel I can say anything to speed us up without someone getting their feelings hurt.

If we had a 30 minute slot on radio or TV, the management would pull the plug on us at 28 or 29 so the next show could come on. I admit I’ve had fantasies of doing that at times. But this isn’t radio, so we do run on.

Then my frustration builds up until I feel like a diva about to have a tantrum.

Miss Ross, about to give a peon the what-for.

Miss Ross giving a peon the stare-down.

Any number of glitches can slow us down. When we first started webcasting, we spent weeks replaying that old cell phone commercial, Can you hear me now?

Time and technology finally solved that for the most part. Some newcomers actually arrive now knowing more or less how to turn on and mute their microphones. (Thank you, newbies!)

Others just show up, and no matter how hard we try, we may or may not be able to teach them how to participate. We lose a lot of people because they don’t know what a System Preference is. They get frustrated or embarrassed and leave. It breaks our hearts.

We ought to run sound checks on everyone every day before the service, but the regulars are so busy gabbing (including me) we never get to do that. So we end up with Marlene, who’s WAY TOO LOUD, and Pedro who’s …


Gabbing, of course, is half the fun. This isn’t radio, it’s church. Seeing each other is part of why we come.

Starting tomorrow I’m implementing two new policies: at 5 minutes before the hour, we do sound checks. The Officiant will announce it and start calling on people in alphabetical order to speak one phrase of the Lord’s Prayer. After each one s/he’ll say, “Too loud, too soft, just right.”

We won’t catch latecomers this way, but it will greatly improve our quality. It will also be a reminder that we’re here for God first, each other second, and the public third – let’s not leave out the public, who are sitting there watching the playback and thinking, “Why don’t they make Pedro speak up?”

But the real issue is something else. (I’ve been working my way up to this, see.)

I never planned, when I first started, that we would spend any time on extemporaneous intercessions. I think it was actually Clint’s idea, and now I’m glad he did it, because it adds a lot to the service, knowing what’s on each person’s mind. Some people come specifically because they’re worried and need to speak their prayer before God and other people. We are glad for every prayer like that. Clint was right.

But when we first started saying individual prayers, I assumed each one would be very brief, like they are in church when the congregation is invited to add their own prayers. In church, people whisper, one on top of the other, and God hears every one. But we can’t do it that way, we’re all mic’d up, so we take turns. Otherwise it’s cacophony. We’ve learned to take turns.

Still, the more people, the more prayers and the longer the service. How do we balance this, when we start having 50 people someday?

Some of our members are very good about keeping their prayer short and sweet. It’s a skill, and they’re thoughtful about it. (You know who you are.)

Some people just let it spill out. That’s fine, we’re not judging the economy of your prayer. It may take you a few words of explanation so we know what you’re really praying about; go ahead, tell us so we can pray along.

But please, no orations from anyone. If someone is sick, just say their name and get it over with so we can move on. Please put the rest of it in the Chat box, once the Suspension period is done:

*Tonya has a new doctor, and she always hates it when she has to see someone new.*

By the way, Clint, that Suspension period (for prayers only, no chatter) is really excellent.

Reminder: do not violate anyone’s privacy. It’s easier to do than you think, even if you don’t say their last name. If you have friends in real time who know that you’re close to Kurt, they’ll know exactly who you mean with this (parody!) prayer: “Oh, Lord, Kurt’s come down with the clap again, so I pray that his penicillin shot will work…”

Say what?

Say what?

I’m also making a structural change in our liturgy starting immediately. Our video hymn will come before the final blessing, which will be pronounced by a priest or deacon if one is present, or by the Officiant.

This is a theological matter as well as a liturgical one. Since it’s my job to watch over both, the change starts now.

Our webcast recording will end with the liturgical blessing, and nothing further will be said. We should send people away with the blessing, and not more mindless yabble from us.

We’ll still bless each other as we depart, but that will take place among friends.++

Commission Proposes Deleting Some Saints, Adding Others

The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, chair of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of The Episcopal Church, is a faculty member at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. (CDSP photo)

The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, chair of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of The Episcopal Church, is a faculty member at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. (CDSP photo)

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of The Episcopal Church has proposed, in a report to the General Convention upcoming in July, that commemorations of the following saints be dropped:

Adoniram Judson, Missionary to Burma, 1850
John Muir, Naturalist and Writer, 1914; and Hudson Stuck, Priest and Environmentalist, 1920
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Writer and Prophetic Witness, 1896
Nathan Soderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala and Ecumenist, 1931
Conrad Weiser, Witness to Peace and Reconciliation, 1760
Toribio de Mogrovejo, 1606 [retaining Martin de Porres, 1639, and Rosa de Lima, 1617, Witnesses to the Faith in South America]
Prudence Crandall, Teacher and Prophetic Witness, 1890
Nikolai Grundtvig, Bishop and Hymnwriter, 1872
Soren Kierkegaard, Teacher and Philosopher, 1855
William Carey, Missionary to India, 1834
Karl Barth, Pastor and Theologian, 1968
John Horden, Bishop and Missionary in Canada, 1893
Robert McDonald, Priest, 1913
William Lloyd Garrison, 1879 [retaining Maria Stewart, 1879, Prophetic Witness]
Lillian Trasher, Missionary in Egypt, 1961
Charlotte Diggs (Lottie) Moon, Missionary in China, 1912

I would hate to see most of them go – especially since they don’t propose getting rid of Sarah Hale, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” or the utterly depraved theologian John Knox.

The Commission proposes adding these saints:

Gladys Aylward (1/3)
Amma Syncletica of Alexandria (1/5)
Caesaria of Arles (1/12)
Marcella (1/31)
Scholastica, Religious, 543 (2/10)
Katherine Drexel (4/3)
Mary of Egypt (4/3)
Kateri Tekakwitha (4/17)
Maria Gabriella Sagheddu (4/22)
Marie de l’Incarnation, Educator and Spiritual Teacher in New France, 1672 (4/30)
Helena, Protector of the Holy Places, 330 (5/21)
Olga of Kiev (7/11)
Bridget of Sweden, Founder of Bridgettine Order, 1373 (7/23)
Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (8/12)
Paula and Eustochium (9/28)
Mother Theodore (Anne-Therese) Guerin, Religious, Educator, Prophetic Witness, 1856 (10/3)
Elizabeth Fry, Prison Reformer, 1845 (10/12)
Catherine of Alexandria (11/5)
Elizabeth of the Trinity (11/8)
Gertrude the Great and Mechtilde of Hackeborn (11/16)
Dorothy Day (11/29)
Ella Baker (12/13)
Emily Ayckbowm, Founder of the Sisters of the Community of the Church, 1870
Kate Harwood Waller Barrett
Etheldred Berry
Mary McLeod Bethune
Louise De Koven Bowen, Hull House
Josephine Butler
Anna Bessant Cassey and Henrietta Lockwood
Rosa Judith Cisneros
Florence Converse
Ella Cara Deloria, Native American Poet and Writer
Helen Fuller
Ann Gream
Angelina and Sarah Grimke
Sister Margaret Hawk, Church Army, Native American Activist
Addie D. Waites Hunton
Satoko Kitahara
Susan Trevor Knapp, NY Training School for Deaconesses
Eva Lee Matthews and Beatrice Henderson
Victoria Earle Matthews, Author and Settlement House Worker, 1907
Eleanor Laura McMain
Harriet O’Brien Monsell
Maria Montessori
Anna Newell, St. Margaret’s House, Berkeley
Phoebe Palmer
Katherine Parr
Ellen Albertina Polyblank [Sister Albertina] & Elizabeth Ann Rogers [Sister Beatrice]
Richeldis of Faverches
Eleanor Roosevelt
Dorothy Sayers
Mary Kingsbury Simkovitch, Greenwich House, NYC
Therese of Lisieux
Adeline Blanchard Tyler
Ruth Elaine Younger (Mother Ruth, CHS)

I don’t know enough about most of them to have an opinion, but as a “Church Army man” I am well acquainted with Sr. Margaret Hawk. I would rather have her described as an Evangelist or Lay Minister than “Church Army,” which is not a title, or “Native American Activist,” which is obvious from her biography.

This Catherine Parr? One of Henry VIII's many wives? (attributed to Master John)

This Catherine Parr? One of Henry VIII’s many wives? (attributed to Master John)

You’ll notice that all the new names are women. The Commission says this proposal would mean women make up one-third of the new list – which is a worthy goal, although it also sounds almost like a quota system.

The Commission is right to point out that the “classic approach” to designating saints skews heavily toward the clergy, and since women have only been ordained in The Episcopal Church since 1974, that leaves 2000 years of female believers out.

On the other hand, the Commission itself reflects a clerical bias, as well as a penchant for grandiose naming, which makes TEC sound full of itself to anyone under the age of 90.

But to get to one-third women, they delete Karl Barth, Soren Kierkegaard, Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Lloyd Garrison?

Others on the proposed hit list are saints recognized by other Churches and Communions, including St. Toribio, John Horden and Robert McDonald.

I've never thought of Eleanor Roosevelt as a saint, but at least she'd be someone we could talk about - unlike most of the others on this list.

I’ve never thought of Eleanor Roosevelt as a saint, but at least she’d be someone we could talk about – unlike most of the others on this list. (Speaking at the UN, 1947)

Let’s stipulate this: that the Commission is made up of good people trying to do a good job; that a case can be made for everyone on both the add and delete lists, whether I happen to like them or not; that any such list has political overtones, since Anglicans always need to balance their Protestant and Catholic constituencies; and that genuine sainthood is up to God, not up to us – so what we do when we collectively make such a list is, as the Commission rightly notes, telling “family stories” to each other, of which there are more stories than can be told.

The real problem here is too many Dead White Englishmen – worthies all, but not very meaningful to people today.

That’s what gives rise to the female quota. The Commission doesn’t have the guts to cut any DWEs, so it suggests we scrap some current newbies in favor of an all-women slate of newer newbies.

A Montessori class; well, maybe.

A Montessori class; well, maybe.

We really ought to ask, “Who among the saints make the best role models for today, in the United States, Cuba, Ecuador, Haiti, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and all the other nations where The Episcopal Church currently operates?”

As the Commission’s proposed new book, A Cloud of Witnesses, suggests, we’ve got plenty of role models to choose from. Who are the best ones for today?

The DWEs offer us a primer on Anglican church history, and yay for them. But they don’t help anyone live today. They should be taught in seminary, every last one of them, and in church history classes. Who helps us spread the Good Word today?

One obvious answer is the more recent the saint, the better. The closer to home, the better. The more like “me” and like us, the better.

We are becoming a browner church – so let’s X out St. Toribio? He campaigned against the enslavement of Latin American Indians!

St. Toribio: quick in, quick out.

St. Toribio: quick in, quick out.

Should we eliminate Harriet Beecher Stowe, the “little lady who caused our Civil War?” Why? That war freed our slaves, and no one can question that her motives were entirely Christian. Same with William Lloyd Garrison, even though he’s a Dead White Guy.

Where is Rosa Parks? How about Dorothy Haight, Fannie Lou Hamer, Viola Liuzzo and Coretta Scott King?

The Commission has a terrible job, and I thank them for their efforts. And yes, we’re all entitled to grouse if our favorites don’t make the list while someone else’s faves do. The right to boo comes with every paid admission to the ballpark.

But I’m afraid an all-female class will only provoke divisions, which we don’t need more of. It feels like one more needless insult, precisely because it fails to answer the question, “Who are the best saints for today?”

That question would no doubt yield a lot of women! I think we’d all want it to. Every woman in the Church, every girl coming up, every prospective member of either sex needs to see more women. After all, Frances Perkins won Lent Madness a year or two ago; there’s a definite market for more women role models in this Church.

I don’t think an all-female list, most of whom we’ve never heard of, is the way to go. Refining the question, “Who should be included and why?” is a better way.

Know this: our Daily Office sites will abide by whatever decision the General Convention makes.

But I do note that the Standing Commission in 2015 made no attempt to solicit the views of communities like ours, who live with the Calendar every day, or of any congregation that isn’t tied to the brick-and-mortar parochial system, online or in person. There are many “emerging church” congregations, but this clergy-dominated Commission has made no effort to engage any of them, beyond its commendably open invitation for anyone and everyone to comment.

They’re stuck in the past, and so is this list.++

Adding Mother Guerin just slays me. She was given RC sainthood just a few years ago after a janitor at her convent claimed a miraculous healing after he prayed to her. No joke, the guy's still alive and living in Indiana. (So much for the RC claim that they don't pray to saints.)

Adding Mother Guerin just slays me. She was given RC sainthood just a few years ago after a janitor at her convent claimed a miraculous healing when he prayed to her. No joke, the guy’s still alive and living in Indiana. (So much for the RC claim that they don’t pray to saints.)

Scholarships Help Make Retreat Affordable

The Daily Office has received three donations so far to defray the cost of attending our retreat this August in southern Indiana. Thank you, thoughtful contributors!

Donations are tax-deductible for U.S. citizens and will be kept anonymous. (We can use more, too.)

We are re-examining costs, $700 currently, to make sure we keep the retreat affordable. One possible target for cuts is the two side trips we currently have planned, which add $100 to the cost for bus transportation. I would hate to lose them – a trip to nearby Columbus, Indiana, which is world-famous for its modern architecture, including many churches, and a longer trip to Terre Haute to meet Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor and tour her CANDLES Museum, focusing on Josef Mengele’s infamous medical experiments on identical twins; Eva and her sister Miriam were two of his victims. Eva has the most remarkable insights on forgiveness that I’ve ever heard; but maybe we can show the documentary about her, “Forgiving Dr. Mengele,” instead.

ForgivingDrMengeleMrs. Kor is not a religious person; she came to a point where she had to forgive Mengele just so she could survive and not be imprisoned by the past. But hearing and watching her story, including the controversy her forgiveness generated, helped free me from the worst thing that ever happened to me, domestic violence at the hands of my father and enabler/mother, so I figured that a spiritual retreat that focuses in part on forgiveness could be really valuable to some people.

I forgave my parents on December 21, 2010, when I was 59, thanks to Eva Mozes Kor. I still have a sign on my wall reminding me about it, which has come in handy when more recent provocations have arisen.

As for the architecture, we can make that optional. The town is open on Sundays, of course, while the CANDLES Museum is not. I can head over to Columbus with anyone who wants to go when we’re done Sunday afternoon.

“Transformations” by Howard Meehan, on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University, Columbus, Indiana. (

Why include the side trips at all? I wanted to let participants know that Indiana has more going for it than people expect, and since this is my home state, I wanted you to experience two unique offerings. But I don’t believe retreats should be expensive and I encourage anyone who would like to attend but thinks they can’t afford it to speak to me privately; my e-mail address is on every page of The Daily Office.

Our honorary deacon Clint Gilliland set the pattern for us when we started webcasting a year ago and found people really need to use a headset to participate. They only cost ten or twenty bucks, but what church would stop everyone at the door and say, “You can’t come in without these earphones”? So we decided that we would give headsets to anyone who can’t afford one; they’re paid for from our general fund. Jesus didn’t charge people when he fed the 5000 and neither do we. If you need a little help, speak to the Vicar – and don’t be offended if he speaks to you, not knowing your financial situation.

We don’t have our retreat leaders signed up yet, but tonight I contacted an experienced retreat leader in my parish, Amy J. Paget, and I’ve spoken to others about it; Deacon Lani is tentatively on board. I also want an experienced male leader but haven’t found one yet.

Once everything is settled we will open registrations – which is good because Waycross is wanting a deposit.

I close with this tip of the biretta to Steve Helmreich, who took me to Indiana Beach once and knows that…

Beach CrowI still have the coffee mug I bought that day; sometimes I sip from it while we’re reading Morning Prayer.++