Friday, October 03, 2008

Pride goeth before a fool

Mrs. Schori is soon to lead a "Day of Repentance" for the Episcopal Church's unenviable record on the issue of slavery over 150 years ago. It surely must be a source of discomfort to her and her supporters that their church was so wrong on the most pressing moral issue of the day. Having not known the time of their visitation once, naturally they couldn't possibly make the same mistake again!

In the course of my reading, I happened recently to unearth a sermon delivered in 1862 by the Reverend Eliazer Kretin, Episcopal priest of the Church of the Blasted Fig-Tree, Nag's Ass, Missouri.

Brothers and sisters, I stand here before you today, a proud man. Proud and certain that the Lord blesses my pride, and will give me, and you, ever more reason to boast of being Episcopalians. As Episcopalians, we have always had good reason to consider ourselves better than the inferior Christians who surround us, but what makes us most proud today is our Church's perfect approach to the issue of slavery.

Yes, while our brother Abraham calls it...what was the term?...oh yes, "a tyrannical principle" that "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it", I am proud that we Episcopalians are distinguished by our pro-freedom stand. Yes, I said PRO-FREEDOM. Even a quick glance through our pious sermons and dinner conversations will reveal that we are profoundly supportive of the freedom of non-enslaved negroes, the freedom of the master, and the freedom of society.

I am proud of my church that we profoundly abhor the use of slavery as a form of salary-avoidance, which is crystal-clear after reading our elegant support of the Compromise of 1850 and our energetic involvement in enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act (let those who have cotton plantations, hear).

I am proud of my church that we have resisted the emotionally manipulative novels like "Uncle Tom's Cabin", portraying tales of slavery which are tragically necessitated by the harsh realities of those involved.

I am proud that my church does not describe equally gruelling stories of hardship on the part of homesteading pioneers of the West and settlers moving freely over the Oregon Trail to build their own farms or exploit mineral wealth.

I am proud of my church that in an age when people in Illinois live in ramshackle log cabins, where even as I write this, women are experiencing...hmm, what is the term our brother Abraham used...ah, yes..."unrewarded toils" so that some unknown child or grandchild in the future may enjoy prosperity, we respect the dignity of every slaveholder to have a choice about and control over the division of labor that will assure his own comfort and security.

I am proud that my church appreciates the calculations of capital outlays and profit margins, depending on the wholesalers' opinions on the market value of cotton and the probable movement of the stock exchange, so that every plantation-owner can be supported in making the painful, awful, life-determining decision of whether he can commit to paying wages for labor or owning slaves.

I am proud that I and many other slavery-supporting Episcopalians contribute to the good of society through the taxes and tariffs we pay on our slave-produced cotton and tobacco.

What greatly distresses me is that there are many others who would triumph the simplicity of their morality so that others might feel guilty about the difficulty and complexity of the reality of their own morality.


(the Rev'd Dr.) Eliazar Kretin


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How nice. TEC will repent of other people's past sins, but apparently not their own more recent transgressions.

Ellie M.

12:01 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Worse, at the same moment they're repenting their blindness 150 years ago, they are blinding themselves all over again when they have to confront the moral crisis of today. Unfortunately, or maybe it's fortunately they won't be around to repent THIS iniquity in another 150 years.

12:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

forest...trees...Catholic Church...moral crisis...pedophile priests...molested parishioners...REPENT CATHOLIC CHURCH!!

What an iniquity! Focus on your 'new' church, and quit obsessing over the one that you left.

Go back to reading your 'porn' of choice--Chesterton.

12:05 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To find a train wreck compelling you don't necessarily have to be a passenger. And the ones who see it coming tend to jump off the train.

Ellie M.

11:01 am  
Anonymous Christopher Johnson said...

Here's something else I don't get. The Episcopal Organization continually brags about the fact that unlike the Baptists, Methodists and other churches, it DIDN'T split up over the issue of slavery and all during the war, continued, during its conventions, to call the roll of the Southern states as if nothing had happened. Seems to me that not breaking up over that issue is not something you want on the ol' resume but then intellectual consistency has never been the hobgoblin of the Episcopal mind.

2:10 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Oh yeah, thanks for the reminder, anon: the Vatican thinks you're losers too.

9:37 pm  
Blogger Smurf Breath said...

Are you seriously suggesting that it is inconsistent to use moral relativism to justify murdering people for convenience, and then adopt moral absolutism to say that slavery is wrong? Neanderthal!

(I've occasionally been tempted to use the term 'Kretin' - but have been concerned about moderation. Perhaps I need to start my own blog. After all, I don't live in friggin' Canada).

9:49 pm  
Blogger Was Thursday said...

Dr Mabuse,

Having been a frequent of your blog, I was wondering if perhaps you might due me the honour of featuring a reciprocal link to 'Thursday Thoughts' if it is something to your liking. In case you haven't viewed it, it is not a blog per se, but rather a collection of easily-searchable essays about culture, faith, and Common Sense from a Catholic Anglican editorial perspective (the editor is not an author, lest he be blamed of tooting his own horn).

I hope the site provides a valuable resource for you and other and I would appreciate any publicity (or essay submissions) you could offer.


9:31 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Thurs: Very fine site! I'm very flattered to find you read my blog, considering how erudite yours is! I'd be delighted to add it to my blogroll, as soon as I can get access to my dashboard to change the template. (We're having computer troubles again - story of my life. WHY did Microsoft have to mess around with Windows again - XP worked just fine for years, and Vista is such a headache.)

11:48 am  

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