As my ancestor Alfonso the Wise once said: "Had I been present at the
Creation, I could have offered a few constructive criticisms."
Hence, I would, personally, like to apologize for cancer.
I would also like to apologize for all phyletism in the Orthodox Church
(especially among those who hate Slavonic, or who love Slavonic so well they
can't stand anyone who hates it).
I would also like to apologize for poverty and ignorance, but most of all: I
would like to apologize for stupidity. It seems to everywhere, and
everywhere it is growing more "profound."
My family (on both sides of the family) owned slaves. I have never owned
slaves. I cannot apologize for someone else. Even if it were possible (and
obviously it is not possible) to bring to me one of my family's former
slaves, I would have no right to apologize in the name of my ancestors,
howeer touched I might be by the circumstances.
Each one of us is "guilty" only of those things which she or he has done,
himself or herself.
One of my former students, Brad, a black boy/man, came to live in my house,
because his mother "disowned" him. I "adopted" him, because, one
morning, he looked so stricken. I asked hm (privately) "What's wrong?"
"My Mom disowned me, last night," he said.
"Well," I answered, "since the job is open, you want to be my little boy?"
(He was then 20, it was a college English class).
"Yeah," he said
When he lost his lease, he asked if he could come live with me. I told him
he could. He has lived in my house, for three years.
Would the Methodists who have offered what I regard as merely words be
willing to take young black man into their homes? If not, why not?
I've a cousin who is a Methodist. She once said to me: "You are the only
clergyman I ever knew who actually let people come and live in his house."
Since Brad has had no parenting (his mother would say such endearing things
to things to them when they were children as this: "I can hardly wait for
you little M.F.s to grow up and get out of my house!") he cannot imagine
why I am concerned about him.
Hence, when I once said: "It bothers me when you are gone for days and I
don't (really) know where you are."
My answer was: "What is the reason for the deaths of the majority of young
"I don't know."
"Other young black men," I answered.
"I'll try to do better," he said.
That was his repentance. However, repentance, to answer your question, is a
turning away from what one has been doing. That has not happened, with Brad.
I still have no idea where he is.
I am morally certain that the Methodists (whose religion in virtually every
other aspect seems a pale imitation of Episcopalianism, which they once knew,
but no longer can remember) meant to do something "good." It is just that,
as northerners whose families were likely NEVER involved in slavery in any
way, they have no reason to repent of what they have never done, and their
ancestors have never done.
Today's Columbus Dispatch section on "Faith and Values" gave them front page
coverage. That page shows Judith , their bishop, washing the feet of an
Africa-American woman. Why not an African-American man? Why not an Asian?
Why not a Euro-American?
She did not, for the same reason that a great many academic appointments are
not open to white males. It is not P.C. With reference to academe, I
have sometimes facetiously said: "They had to give her the position. Being
a lesbian with a Spanish surname, blind in one eye, crippled in one leg, and
a Jew, they had to give her the job, notwithstanding the fact she can neither
read nor write!"
That is only a gross exaggeration of the situation, but we call that
When, in the 1920s, there was a discussion of whether or not a priest might
hear a confession over the telephone, the Vatican decreed: No. The person
must be "morally present."
I am suggesting (indeed, I have fairly clearly said so): The Methodists
were just saying good words. Judith, their bishop (and where did they get
bishops? They got them from Francis Asbury, whom John Wesley appointed as
Sunday School Superintendent, here in the new USA), said she hoped these were
not "just words."
She would not have raised that doubt, were it not, in fact, in her mind.
Thre is a letter from John Wesley extant in the British Museum. In it, he
said: "If the Methodists leave the Church of England, God will leave them."
They did, and He did.
If you don't believe me, go to a Methodist church sometime. It is all as
shallow as a cheap veneer.
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