Tag Archives: Jackson Avenue

Was Judas’ Betrayal of Jesus any worse than the U.S. Episcopal Church’s Betrayal of its own English Heritage?

Today, April 2, marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Confederate States of America as a viable political entity.  There were no memorials or eulogies.  The world, even the South, lives largely in a state of amnesia induced by foreign occupation and subjugated defeat.  We have betrayed our ancestors ideals of constitutional government and genuine freedom by tolerating the most corrupt and perverse government, and a culture filled with lies, that is humanly imaginable.

While serving as President of the CSA, Jefferson Davis once commented on the comparisons to be made between the war of 1861-65 between the Northern and Southern United States and the English Civil War between “Roundhead” Protestant Radicals, led by Oliver Cromwell, and the Church of England and its Constitutional Monarchy, led by the two Kings Charles Edward Stuart, I and II.

Davis commented that the South had inherited the noble Cavalier mantle of King Charles the Martyr and that it was at war with a nation of self-righteous meddlesome bigots.  Davis never understood the close relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Karl Marx, or the historically decisive nature of that alliance.   

But the fact remains that there is a close relationship between the Episcopal Church/Church of England, and the South and its heritage.  Almost all the leaders of the Confederate South, including Jefferson Davis, Alexander Hamilton Stephens, Braxton Bragg, Jubal Early, Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, Joseph E. Johnston, and John Bell Hood, and Patrick Cleburne were Episcopalians.  Major exceptions were Judah P. Benjamin (Jewish) and P.T.G. Beauregard (Roman Catholic).

On this day a hundred and fifty years ago, April 2, 1865, General Robert E. Lee and President Jefferson Davis evacuated the Confederate Capital at Richmond. It had been a terrible mistake to move the Capital from inaccessible Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, too close to Washington.

But today, on this sad sesquicentennial, I attended Maundy Thursday services at Christ Church Cathedral in the 2900 block of St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, where Confederate General Leonidas Polk was First Bishop of Louisiana, and where that Southern hero’s remains are buried.

Yesterday, Canon Steve Roberts in his Holy Week Wednesday Homily had spoken of betrayal—Judas’ “betrayal of Jesus, of course, being one of the key events of Holy Week. Canon Roberts had spoken of the experience of betrayal in everyday life—“there has to be a relationship of trust, for betrayal to happen…..we cannot be betrayed by strangers who hardly know us.”

I charge again that the Diocese of Louisiana has betrayed the Memory of General Polk by condemning the freedom Polk (and a million other southerners) fought for, and for which so many hundreds of thousands gave their lives.

Polk is a gigantic figure in the history of this place. Even today his name has a visible relationship to this Diocese and to many a parish in this state. His picture is on the walls of Christ Church. His tombstone is the largest single monument to any North American personage at the right hand of the Great Christ Church Altar.

Trinity Episcopal on Jackson Avenue still has “Bishop Polk Hall” as its central and largest meeting place. I do not think it should ever rename that Hall…. because the name of Leonidas Polk is hallowed from Natchitoches Trinity Church where my grandmother Helen was baptized on South.

I ask today, as I have asked before—how can we be true to ourselves if we distain, if we dishonor our heritage?

Could Rome ever disown Saints Peter and Paul? Could Jerusalem ever forget James, the Brother of Jesus, and that City’s own first Bishop? Should England, Greece, Russia, and Scotland ever forget Saints Andrew and Saint George?

No more should Louisiana forget Bishop Leonidas Polk and the Constitutional Government of the Confederate States of America for which His Grace, General Leonidas Polk, fought and died.

Easter, 4/20, Hitler’s Birthday, and the Sheeple’s search for a Good Shepherd—Christos Anesthe! Alithos Anesthe!

Today I am writing from Beverly Hills California.  Palm Sunday and every day of the Holy Week triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Eve Saturday) I attended services at All Saints Beverly Hills to listen to the sermons of the Reverend Barry Taylor.   So now I return to a theme about which I wrote something last year: https://charleslincoln3.com/2013/04/23/saint-george-the-anarchist-420-meditations/

A year ago today, on Sunday 4/21, it was already “Good Shepherd Sunday” (Fourth Sunday in Easter) and I was in New Orleans, and that day I attended Evening services in the Chapel of Trinity Church on Jackson Avenue in the Lower Garden District, the day after 4/20.  One of the hymns played and sung that Sunday a year ago was  #522, a well-known string-quartet composed by Franz Haydn which became the National Anthem of Germany and Austria.  (The Episcopal Hymnal text attached to this stirring tune is: “Glorious things of thee are Spoken”—522 is a dull, kind of uninspired hymnal text, at least to my mind and ears, but “Deutschland uber Alles” is inspiring and stirring….).

I thought it then worthy of note, and I think it today worthy of note, that this day 4/20 then, especially when celebrated with songs of leadership on days remarkable for their claims of world salvation, that the rules of Christ and Hitler should be compared.  Very few people read or take much comfort if they do read the writings of Adolf Hitler these days, but for about a dozen years he was considered by many millions to be the Savior of Germany (and they did so consider him until Hitler or, at least, the war he had as much a hand in starting as anyone else, if not more, all-but-totally destroyed Germany).  There are those in the world today who believe that the US and the UK both “backed the wrong dictators” in World War II, and that the modern world would be better if Stalin had been destroyed and Mao never allowed, while Hitler’s Germany guided Europe much as Angela Merkel’s Germany does today…. 

Guidance, leadership, rulership and power granted by or deriving from God, divine inspiration, Shepherding.  Those words are constant themes of Christianity on Easter and every Sunday, but I suppose, especially Good Shepherd Sunday.  

Yet, at least among people of a conservative mindset in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, Patriotic ideologues speak scornfully of the “sheeple”—the people who follow leadership like sheep, implicitly to their slaughter.

So on Good Shepherd Sunday last year, falling as it did on 4/21, and today Easter Sunday, falling on 4/20—I cannot help but reflect on the contrasting and possibly contradictory, and quite possibly irreconcilable human desires for Salvation, Leadership, and Freedom.  

Jesus was a genuine revolutionary, there seems no doubt of that.  Christ’s Gospel preachings were aimed at the Pharisees and Sadducees, the “powers that were” in his day in early First Century Jerusalem—and they seem eerily relevant to critiques of the “powers that are” today.  So were Hitler’s speeches and writings.  So were Karl Marx’ and Friedrich Engels’ texts.  More people know the Gospels today than any writings by Engels, Hitler, or Marx, but more people in the world today live under regimes which adhere to Marxist teachings and doctrines than to any version of Christianity or Christ’s lessons and parables.

Jesus taught, however much he preached about sheep and compared himself and his leadership to a Shepherd, about freedom from oppression, freedom from illegitimate power, but also about Freedom from Lies and Deception.

So how I have to ask: how can sheep ever be free?  How can we pray both to be guided and herded and responsible for self-determination?  How is free will compatible with leadership?  I suppose “free will” is generally understood to be the freedom given to Adam and Eve to choose to eat of the forbidden fruit or not…. and they had no Shepherd, but only a disinterested and experimental God watching over them.  But later generations that (presumably) either had Shepherds or at least had access to such people created Sodom and Gomorrah, and Babylon, and Beverly Hills, California.

Of course 4/20 has another widespread meaning to many people around the world, as Bob Marley’s birthday, it is “World Weed Day” or International Smoke Marijuana Day…..So I also have to ask, are wine and weed conducive to freedom or to compliance with power, to passivity or assertiveness?  Are stoned sheep likely to rebel?  I suspect that is why alcohol and drugs are tolerated in the west… and all around the world—they make people into better Sheep.

The purpose of Sheep’s existence is to be sheered and ultimately slaughtered.  I had a delicious lamb roast at the King’s Head Tavern in Santa Monica after Church…. it was almost as good as used to come from my Louisiana-born grandmother’s kitchen in Highland Park, Dallas, Texas….. But I insist on asking: Is it a really such a good thing for Sheep to have a good Shepherd which makes certain that none ever get away?  Or is it a bad thing to do anything other than the which “the powers that be” want you to do?  

Is this a problem with the Religion of Love which teaches us all to follow “The Good Shepherd?”  Or should we, as the Reverend Barry Taylor at All Saints BH seems to preach every Sunday, choose to reject the conformist “sheep” and “shepherd” analogies all together, and assert the freedom of sarcastic and cynical Englishmen to live and love as their core religious mantra?  Should we love Jesus the Good Shepherd, or the Rebel Jesus, the champion of the poor, the friendless, and the enemy of the money changers and lawyers in the Temple?

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.