On this Third Sunday in Advent, two and a half months after addressing my letter to the Bishop of Louisiana (where Bishop Leonidas Polk is buried) and the Clergy of Christ Church Cathedral and Trinity Church in New Orleans (whose largest meeting and banquet room is called “Bishop Polk Hall”), I have received not even a whisper of a written response from any clergyman. https://charleslincoln3.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/1-october-2013-letter-to-bishop-thompson-of-louisiana.pdf
(The Dean of Christ Church, Dean David A. DuPlantier, simply and summarily refused even to speak to me about the topic, saying my perspective and thoughts were unworthy to be discussed and that Bishop Polk was “a villain”. This all happened on Sunday October 20, 2013, I believe. After dismissing me and my letter “embracing slavery” and condemning Bishop Polk, Dean DuPlantier then, with a truly remarkable lack of self-consciousness, I think, having just judged me, my culture, my race, and my personal family heritage and historic inheritance as unworthy of discussion, then proceeded to deliver a fine sermon on one of my favorite Bible Passages, the Parable of the Unjust Judge in Luke, 18: 1-9. I myself found the irony quite delicious. Dean DuPlantier himself had become the Unjust Judge, and he was passing judgment on the man and the spirit entombed directly behind the pulpit from which he spoke.
But plans move ahead towards this historical travesty and insult to socio-cultural reality, as was just published on Friday the 13th, St. Lucy’s day, by Ms. Orissa Arend, a “New Orleans Mediator, Psychotherapist and Freelance Writer” (who has written a book about the Black Panthers in New Orleans, and their 1970 shootout and other standoffs with the New Orleans Police, just for example: http://www.uapress.com/titles/sp09/arend.html).
I find it more than a little ironic that the University of Arksansas advertisement asserts that “Orissa Arend has forced us to see these self-defense militants from every point of view imaginable”, adding that these “self-defense militants . . . creat=[ed] survival programs.” Now what would Ms. Arend say if I told her that if she studied the history and origins of the Ku Klux Klan, she would discover that (honestly) the (original, 1860s-1870s) Klan MUST BE described in exactly the same terms.
In any even, Ms. Orissa Arend’s enthusiastic article endorsing the Episcopal Church’s Mass for Racial Reconciliation can be found at: http://www.atthreshold.org/2013/12/13/a-service-of-healing-january-18-2014/. I maintain that there is neither healing nor reconciliation to be found in distorting history and vilifying our ancestors, but my full response (which I submitted on her blog, but which is “awaiting moderation” and so, she may or may not publish it) follows (in full) herein below:
Dear Ms. Orissa Arend:
I speak for the First Bishop of Louisiana, Confederate General, and War hero in the service of his people and their liberty, whose untimely death in Northern Georgia you celebrate. I speak for the man and the spirit of the Lost Cause buried behind the Pulpit at Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans.
I ask you, and for all Episcopalians in New Orleans, Louisiana, the South, and the United States of America, to give voice to those with whom you supposedly propose reconciliation: Indeed I ask you—how can there be any reconciliation at all if the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants of the South are given no voice to speak to the honor of their ancestors and their cause in this supposedly momentous “Mass of Racial Reconciliation.”
President Jefferson Davis died in New Orleans after the opening of Confederate Memorial Hall, attended by Howard, Tilton, and many of the other great leaders of the City. James K. Polk was President of the United States and he often visited his cousin Bishop Leonidas Polk in Louisiana.
Where are the descendants of those who made the South what it is in this whole plan of reconciliation? Are you as happy that half a million Southern Soldiers died in 1861-65 as you are about the death of Bishop Polk? Should Bishop Polk’s remains be disinterred and his bones burnt and scattered in Lake Pontchartrain?
If so, I want nothing more to do with the Episcopal Church, because it will have betrayed the very reasons, the very traditions, which have always caused me to adhere to it. I am writing to you in part to ask that you circulate to your readership the letter I wrote to the current Bishop of Louisiana on October 1: https://charleslincoln3.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/1-october-2013-letter-to-bishop-thompson-of-louisiana.pdf.
To this letter I have so far received no reply whatsoever from the Bishop or anyone else although I published it on-line and circulated it to other members of the Diocese of Louisiana, especially here in New Orleans.
I personally can think of nothing more futile and repugnant than a Mass for Racial Reconciliation which falsifies the truth about the origins, nature, and history of Black African Slavery on the one hand, and treats my ancestors, and other people descended from or who may admire the founders of the Episcopal Church in Louisiana, as criminals, outcasts, and victims. Leonidas Polk was a hero and a visionary, as were many if not most of the Confederate leaders.
Ironically, the Confederate vision was one of a free and constitutional government. Even more ironically, the people of America today suffer from multifarious and complex forms of corporate and governmental oppression which portend of a universal slavery for all mankind.
I submit to you that the Presiding Bishop’s proposed Mass for Racial Reconciliation is a sham designed to distract Americans from certain grim realities including the fact that we are headed towards a very dark future, without freedom, without lawfully constituted or ordered government which depends for its authority on a high tech set of chains and whips which make the instruments of chattel slave ownership in the Old South look like the Palaeotechnic toys they were.
In Barack Obama’s America—more blacks will spend a year or more in prison than were ever slaves. More people (white, black and hispanic) will pass through the so-called criminal justice system than were ever black in America. This is the most imprisoning nation in the world. Is it a coincidence that the 13th Amendment which abolished chattel slavery authorized slavery or involuntary servitude as a punishment for a crime? Or that the standards of due process of law have declined while the likelihood (or now near certainty) of conviction after arrest has risen exponentially in America since the adoption of the 13th Amendment? Does it matter that there really was NO “prison culture” to speak of in America prior to 1861, but ever since 1865, Prison Culture has grown and grown and grown?
I think the Proposed Mass for Racial Reconciliation should be scrapped until it can be redesigned to address historical truth and present socio-cultural and economic reality. I would submit that THERE CAN BE NO RECONCILIATION UNLESS ALL PARTIES, INCLUDING THE DESCENDANTS AND ADMIRERS OF THE CONFEDERATE GOVERNMENT AND ARMIES AND THEIR CAUSE, ARE ALSO PRESENT AND SPEAKING. ANY RECONCILIATION WITHOUT US WILL BE FALSE AND EPHEMERAL AT BEST, DECEITFUL AND DISHONEST AT WORSE.