Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Sunday, December 06, 2009


I saw in the news that the Episcopalians have elected two women bishops, one same-sex partnered, and that the AB of C has reacted negatively ...... Rowan Williams, Jon Bruno on Glasspool consent process. As you'd expect, I'm on the side of the Episcopalians. It's interesting how people decide which side to throw down with, and I was reminded of a reflection I read recently by Episcopal priest and professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Columbia University, Randall Balmer .....


Priest Randall Balmer Reflects on Less-Than-Angelic Past

I remember the eyes as though it were yesterday. They were pretty. Blue. Expectant, yet afraid. "That’s Diane," one of my new fourth-grade classmates said, pointing in her direction. "Don’t let her touch you. She’s the Cootie Girl."

There was, I could tell, something different about Diane. My family was hardly affluent, nor were the kids at Wenona School. But the dress Diane wore was tattered. Someone whispered that she and her mother lived alone. At lunchtime, she ate by herself. Although she had a pleasant smile, she looked slightly disheveled. Waiflike.

Like a pack of wolves taunting a moose, children can devise ingenious ways to belittle anyone they choose to ostracize. I recall one day standing in a line across the hallway from a janitor’s closet. One of my classmates had apparently been musing on the word "custodian" painted on the door. "Hey, look," he shouted. "CUS-TO-DIAN."

Everyone chortled at the brilliance of the put-down, of course, but I caught the wounded look in Diane’s eyes. Yet another insult, yet another scar to carry home that night. "Where do you stand?" the eyes asked. Would the new kid become just another tormenter, or maybe — hoping against hope — a friend?

I wish I could tell you that I did the right thing back there in the hallway. We all like to be the heroes of our own stories. But I’m afraid that I’m not very good at this hero business. It takes guts to stand up to peers, to resist the pressures of conformity, and I have come to admire those with the courage to take up the cause of those less fortunate, those on the margins. Sojourner Truth. Angelina Grimke. Jane Addams.

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope," said Robert Kennedy. "Crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance."

I don’t pretend that history would have been different if I had been kind to Diane, the Cootie Girl, back in Michigan more than four decades ago. But I would have been different. And perhaps she as well, if only for a moment. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was beaten and slumped over a barbed-wire fence on a cold Wyoming night; you wrapped me in a blanket and tried to revive me. I was sad and lonely, and I was wearing a ratty dress because my mother couldn’t afford anything better. But you stood up to the crowd and became my friend.

Would that it were so.



Blogger victor said...

Sometimes when you see someone who truly has "Cooties" and others in weird ways are trying to correct them because they know that God won't do "IT" cause He's all Love can seem very frustrating on occasions.

Sometimes, when that occurs, instead of bringing them down, i think that the best thing we can do is pray for them and let "The Good Lord" correct "IT" is His own way, especially during The Christmas Season if you know what I mean.


4:40 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Victor,

Letting God sort it out sounds good to me.

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Dyan said...

Thanks for the reminder! Jesus was never afraid of cooties - oh to be more like him!

8:36 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Dyan :)

11:50 PM  
Blogger victor said...


I don't think every body back then would have agreed with you, especially after Jesus chased them out of His Father's House for doing what He was not please about. After that, they asked Him in so many words, what gave Him the right to do what He did. He simply replied in so many words, Destroy this Temple and I'll rebuild "IT" in "Three" Days!

Don't tell any body but between you and me, Jesus was really talking to those so called invisible aliens "Body Snatchers" of that "TIME". Go Figure! :)

8:19 AM  
Blogger Deacon Denny said...

Randall Balmer -- I hadn't ever read anything by him before. Very simple, very eloquent. Thanks for the post, Crystal. You DO find interesting things to read!

1:12 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Denny,

I heard about Randall Balmer when I read a post by him at On Faith about the pope's invitation to disafected Anglicans. He's one of the editors for Christianity Today, I think, and he's written a few interesting books. His web page is here - link.

2:37 PM  

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