Saintly Shenanigans

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Two Saintly Women from Two Vastly Different Times: Harriet Tubman and Hilda of Whitby March 21, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — revwaf @ 1:23 pm

Sad to see Florence Li-Tim Oi go, but the Elate Eight round requires resolve and strength.  Not for the faint-hearted are these remaining days of Madness.  Thank goodness these are just hypothetical match-ups and the actual saints still retain their exalted entries in the Episcopal Church’s Holy Women, Holy Men chronicle of feast days.  Florence Li-Tim Oi is not actually being knocked out of contention; her role in the road to women’s ordination remains undisputed.  Believe it or not, someone actually quit Lent Madness yesterday saying “I give up. Obviously PC has governed both the brackets and the voting. When Christ’s own apostles are beaten out by simply good people, the humor and fun goes out of the game. I’m glad, however, Jesus was not one of the ‘contestants.’ He would have lost to a feminist, ecologist, or chicken-raiser. It was fun for a while, but I quit.”  The Supreme Executive Committee (SEC) were extremely conciliatory to this person; my response would have been that someone seriously needs to get a life.  There is room for humor in the church — far more room than is currently allotted.  Humor is the ability to step out of ourselves and put things into perspective.  In fact, the tradition of April Fool’s Day has its origins in the church:  always occurring close to Easter, the once-a-year reversal of the norm was a way to turn things upside down and to laugh at ourselves, the way Jesus laughed at death when he rose out of that tomb.  So — lighten up, everyone!  It’s good for you!

What’s with the Celtic saints and snakes? Legend has it Hilda turned them into stone– which explains all the ammonite fossils near Whitby… (?). This drawing is from the Jean Charlot Collection at the U of Hawaii library

Of course it wasn’t an actual railway… Drawing by Elizabeth Scism

Today’s match-up continues to pit saints for whom I have been consistently voting against each other.  Today it’s Harriet Tubman vs Hilda of Whitby.  Hands down — I whittle away the Abbess in favor of the conductor of the Underground Railroad (so, okay, maybe I haven’t quite forgiven Hilda for her role in the Synod of Whitby in which the Celtic Church bowed to the Roman way of doing things…).

As I’ve chronicled in previous posts about Harriet Tubman, she was a giant — leading people from slavery to freedom, recruiting men to fight with John Brown, joining the Union Army and leading a charge.   And then when most would be happy to sit on a rocking chair and enjoy some time of peace and quiet she teamed up with Susan B. Anthony and others to fight for women’s suffrage.  Later in life she married a man 20 years her junior (you go, girl!) and even underwent brain surgery — without anesthesia! (ouch!!!) — biting down on a bullet the way she had seen soldiers on the field do.

I would hope that Harriet Tubman today would look down on us and smile seeing an African-American in the Oval Office.  But I have an even stronger hunch that she would say, that’s not enough, keep going, keep going.

To vote, go here.  As I’m writing this on Wednesday, I have not yet seen what kitsch the SEC has in store for us today.  Do pause to soak it all in before you get to the voting box!  We people of the cloth do so love our kitsch! — while I was in seminary the class ahead of ours created a meditation garden in front of Aspinwall Hall — complete with a gaudy statue of the BVM, white tires,  pink flamingos and an equally disturbing birdbath.  Sadly the administration took it down, but not before the VTS “basketball and flag football teams” (quotation marks intentional) were named the “Pink Flamingos.”  I hear they have a more dignified mascot now, more’s the pity.


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