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Whoever promised ‘comfort’ in church? - Albia Newspapers: Opinion

Whoever promised ‘comfort’ in church?

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Posted: Friday, November 3, 2017 10:40 am

Sometimes stories in the national news enrage me. Sometimes I shrug wondering what’s the big deal. Other times I feel a mixture of anger and sadness. This is the case in the announcement of Christ Church in Alexandria, Va., a venerable old Episcopal congregation, that they would remove plaques from their church honoring the legacy of George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

President Washington was a founding member of the church. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln also attended. Gen. Robert E. Lee’s parents took him to the church when he was two years old and he remained a member as an adult.

Church leaders say the memorials, which sit to the left and right of the altar, have become too divisive and might be discouraging parishioners from attending services.

“The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome,” the lady vicar said, according to The Washington Times. “Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques.”

And that unintended message would be what? That sinners and imperfect men once sat in the pews. When all of this statue nonsense started up, a few warned that taking down statues of Christopher Columbus, Robert E. Lee and other Confederate generals would be just the start. They said there would be a movement to rename the nation’s capitol because George Washington owned slaves.

Well, it has started.

The really sad part of this is the absolute theological ignorance of so-called Christ Church leaders. It is remarkable that leaders of a renowned church can be so stupid in terms of Biblical teaching and Christian doctrine. It is absolutely amazing that the Progressive/Liberal movement has so worked these people over that they can see nothing without terming it racist.

I will bet my last dime that the next thing that is removed from churches like Christ Church is the Holy Bible. Without argument, the Bible is an uncomfortable book to read. It contains racist language and it contains directions to slaves (not black, but none-the-less slaves) to obey their masters. It contains references to judgment and hell. King David had Uriah murdered so he could shag Uriah’s wife for crying out loud. What is more uncomfortable than that? And God chose David’s line to give the world his son.

We Protestants are in the middle of celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the brilliance of Martin Luther. You don’t need to read too far into the writings of Luther to find serious anti-Semitic belief. If part of going to a Christian church is to insure comfort the pews should empty fast…at least if the entire Gospel message is being preached.

I don’t know who this lady vicar is leading Christ Church down this silly PC path, but I have read volumes about Robert E. Lee and George Washington. Lee was a devout Christian his entire life and following the Civil War spent the rest of his days in Christ-like service to his community. He is the one who demanded that Jefferson Davis lay down his sword, rejoin the Union and start healing the near mortal wounds of the Civil War.

But if you’re looking for a man who was white as snow regarding slavery (particularly if we judge him based on how we view slavery today), Lee is not your man. He owned a few slaves, freed all of his wife’s father’s slaves according to his father-in-law’s will and ultimately freed his own slaves. But there is also evidence that he treated three slaves who escaped and were recaptured years before the Civil war with cruelty. He never wrote anything in terms of objecting to the Ku Klux Klan. And prior to the war he wrote that slavery was good for blacks because it led them to Christianity.

An abolitionist he was not. A flawed yet great American in the end, I think so.

George Washington, on the other hand, attended church with some regularity but rarely took communion. He ascribed not so much to evangelical Christianity, but to “Deism” or “theistic rationalism.” He believed in one God and the providence benefiting those who believed in God, but not necessarily in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

But he considered himself a religious man and wrote often about the impossibility of the new nation to prosper without the practice of the Christian religion. He ascribed the miracle of the constitutional convention to providence. But there was no priest or pastor at his bedside when he died. On the other hand, an Episcopal priest did his funeral.

Washington owned about 123 slaves and his wife owned at least that many or more. Ironically, she was blood relation to Robert E. Lee’s wife and both inherited slaves from the Curtiss side of the family.

Before his death, Washington emancipated his slaves. Martha’s slaves, however, according to Virginia law, were not freed.

So is all of that history uncomfortable? Yes, certainly it is. But what is more uncomfortable, the fact that Washington owned slaves or that he was a member of an Episcopal Church and may not have believed in Christ? It’s history. It’s complicated. But it is history that is best studied and understood in terms of the time it happened than silenced by today’s standards. Despite the discomfort.

I enjoyed a day with staff members of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs (historical society, Iowa Arts Council and its film division) along with Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday after Albia was chosen as the place for the governor to honor the 160th anniversary of the State Historical Society and 50th anniversary of the Iowa Arts Council.

We got to show off Albia’s historic square and the King Opera House and our county museum and treat most of the managerial staff to a Rotary Club luncheon held at the historic Kendall Place, home of Gov. Nathan Kendall and now part of the Monroe County Historical Society.

It was a veritable non-political love fest and I was reminded of how the arts and our shared history as Iowans can be this wonderful binding experience, transcending current political warfare.

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