Tag Archives: Bishop Morris K. Thompson

Reflections on Love and Pride in Lent

To all my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, a Blessed and Deeply Reflective and Repentant Lent.Above all we should reflect on God’s love for us, and the nature and extent of all love here on earth among us mortals in the course of our Salvation.Without the three species of love, the world is a desolate place indeed. But Agape, Philios, and Eros are not and have never been equal or easy to understand and relate to one another.

During Lent we should all reflect deeply on the things inside us that destroy and build up love of all types, but especially Agape, the love and charity of God Himself towards us all.

Pride is considered one of the seven deadly sins, for example, but is loving Pride sinful or Godly? 

And how can parental pride in their children or a child’s or a group.of children’s pride in his or her parents be considered as anything other than an expression of love?

Pride is love, but it is obviously neither eros nor philios, although it is certainly in some contexts similar to and compatible with brotherly love, and the pride of a man in his beautiful wife or of a woman in her successful husband is equally compatible with eros, and seems virtuous in all ways rather than sinful.

I simply cannot accept that all pride is sinful.  In her song, the Magnigicat, the Blessed Virgin Mary articulates a series of emotions which can only be called pride, pride in the Glory of God, pride in God’s justice, pride in her own inheritance as a daughter of Abraham, and pride above all in her unique and special relationship with God and her unique and special role in His plans for the salvation of the world.  I think it is fair to say that Mary’s expresdions of pride are filled with Agape, the love and charity of God. 

Pride is an issue for many of us in America, Europe, Australia, and South Africa as we confront the demands of the Church of England and its Anglican Commmunion and Episcopal affiliates abroad that we apologize for our own Christian parents, grandparents, and ancestors for their sins, real and imaginary, such as Slavery, Segregation, or belief in the righteousness of White Supremacy.

I, for one, refuse to believe that family pride is sinful, or that the extended family pride we might call pride in our bilogical, constitutional, cultural, ethnic, legal, national, political, racial, or social heritage is sinful either.

I suggest that deeper study and understanding of history are critical to the analysis and comprehension of all the elements of our heritage.  Historical study and reflection seems like a good appropriately reflective and potentially penitential activity which might constitute a good sacrifice of time for Lent.

Bishop Morris K. Thompson in his Ash Wednesday homily yesterday (March 5, 2014) suggested that such a sacrifice of reflective time was a much more appropriate item to dedicate one’s demonstration of commitment to Lent than giving up chocolates or candy bonbons.  

I believe that there is room for both Godly love and Godly pride in Lent, and that we can and should love our families, both near and far. It was with great happiness and pride, for example, that I followed the example of Saint Paul in addressing this letter to my “Brothers and Sisters in Christ.” 

Can Racial Reconciliation be achieved by Ignoring or Falsifying History? An Open Letter to the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana regarding “Truth, Honor, and Pride”

I have basically been very happily based in New Orleans, Louisiana, since I arrived here from Maui, Hawaii on December 9 of last year.  You know, there are ups and downs everywhere, but I had missed living in this city ever since I graduated from the Tulane College of Arts & Sciences on May 11, 1980, and have wanted to return here ever since.  I actually did return for several years 1997-2000, but was so wrapped up in my problems in Texas, I was basically bouncing back and forth.  One of the most consistently agreeable aspects of my life in New Orleans has been attending Church at Christ Church Cathedral on St. Charles & 6th Street, occasionally visiting at Trinity on Jackson right around the corner from my temporary home on Prytania (since March 8, 2013). One of the things I love most about New Orleans is its history—basically it’s impossible to take a walk, anywhere in this city, and not confront history face-to-face, it’s everywhere.  Basically, even the majority of the historic architecture in French Quarter really dates from the 19th century city, the actual 18th century buildings number in the dozens at the highest possible count.  The Garden District and “Uptown Audubon” mark a progression through the 19th century into the 20th.  St. Charles itself has been hideously scarred with mid-twentieth century cheap apartment buildings which took the place of many blocks of Victorian houses… but to either side of St. Charles, the historically decimating devastation is less.

How few people realize just how deeply New Orleans was shaped by the ante-bellum era and how loyal it was to the Confederate States of America, ESPECIALLY AFTER (ironically enough) the collapse of that nascent Federal Republic in 1865.

It is also undeniably true that the question of race-relations hangs like a sword of Damocles over the heads of the people of New Orleans.  The question comes up all the time, usually in emotional and rarely in analytical terms.

Ever since I heard, at the beginning of September, about an “Ecumenical Mass of Racial Reconciliation” being planned for January 12-21, 2014, I have been reflecting on the question of race and history in this wonderful town, this city where by dint of history black Americans first created a kind of “Jazz Aristocracy” recognized all over the world in the 1920s….

I wrote my initial thoughts on this question in a letter I just completed and delivered on Wednesday to the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana and other members of the Clergy at Christ Church and Trinity Church.  

I have been told that in the bad old days of the Civil Rights movement, when the barriers of segregation were first being torn down, they had special “greeters” at Christ Church would take black folks aside and suggest to them that they might be “more comfortable elsewhere.”   The inversion of history is so great, I more than casually wonder whether I’ll now be afforded the same treatment for challenging the modern “politically correct” mythos of race.  

I attach here two versions of my letter to the Bishop and Clergy—only one of which I actually delivered (the October 2, 2013 version in which I reflect on the sinfulness of pride).  

2 October 2013 Letter to Bishop Thompson of Louisiana

1 October 2013 Letter to Bishop Thompson of Louisiana

I owe a great debt to two of my California friends who read over this letter before I delivered it: Shelene Emily Peterson of Belmont and Daniel Christian Mack of San Juan Capistrano.  Shelene keeps my English in line and tries to control my tendency to ramble (obvious with only limited success, although you should see how much she cut out….).  Dan made me realize the error of asserting, oxymoronically, “pride” which is inimical to Christian faith—although it is a critical element of human identity and sanity, it seems to me, that we must love ourselves for what we are.  And our ancestry shapes us, both culturally and genetically, whether we would wish it so or not.