Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I’ve been dipping my toes in some of the comments sections over on AOHell (yes, Lisa there does lie madness). Considering how some of the posters feel about the Huffington Post, I wonder how they’ll feel about the merger with AOL. After all there’s no site I know of that’s crazier than AOL, so where can they go? :-)It can be useful place to pick up journal ideas sometimes though. There are folks on those boards who treat the word Liberal as if was an insult. I guess in their eyes it is.

I’ve got to tell you though, as possible insults go, liberal is about as mild as it gets. And since a few of them claim to be Christians, I’d love to ask them if they’ve read that pesky little verse about hating your neighbor. I seem to remember that Jesus said something along the lines of “saying that you hate your neighbor in your heart is the same as murdering him.”

I’ve been researching my family tree over the last year. And the ancestors seem to run heavily to New England dissenters and seekers, Mid Atlantic Quakers and the odd Maryland or Virginia Roman Catholic. I’m sure there’s the odd Anglican in the mix, too.

A distant cousin four centuries or so removed, Thomas Gerard, went to the stake with Robert Barnes in July of 1540 for being too Protestant. They hanged three Catholics the same day because they wouldn’t sign the Act of Supremacy that made Henry VIII the head of the church in England. Henry, it seems, was something of an equal opportunity oppressor when it came to religion. (did I really say that?)

Ironically, Thomas Cromwell who pointed out to Henry that if he was head of the English church he could basically grant himself a divorce and get on with the business of getting a male heir without interference from Rome had gone to the block two days earlier. He’d let the genie out of the bottle, miscalculated how far Henry was willing to go on the road to reformation.

A great uncle a dozen or so times removed, John Gerard, spent a stretch in the tower in Elizabeth’s time for being too Catholic. He was a Jesuit who had been functioning as an underground priest. He managed to survive, finally went into exile for good and wrote his memoirs.

Members of the family have probably been called ranters, levelers, diggers, schismatics, heretics, papists, atheists and/or blasphemers. Remember, being called a Puritan or a Quaker was not meant as a term of affection. Heck, being called a liberal is relatively tame.

And that was while they were in England. Once they arrived in the New World each group became targets for the others. Roger Williams came into conflict with the Puritan leadership in what became Massachusetts and ended up founding Rhode Island.

Thomas Hooker was no believer in universal suffrage, but did believe that if you belonged to the church (and were a man) you should have the right to vote even if you weren’t a land owner. He and his followers helped found Connecticut.

Quakers who showed up preaching in Massachusetts were lucky if they were just kicked out of the colony. Come back and you risked being flogged at the back end of a cart while being paraded through the town. A few insisted on coming back a third or fourth time and finally faced a date with the village hangman. Not that many, but it's scary how fast the persecuted turn around and become persecuters.

I guess that set the pattern for what has happened over the years. As long as there was someplace else to go, we could get out of Dodge if we couldn't get along with each other. But, now there’s no frontier to run to; we have to stay where we are. Hopefully, somewhere along the line we’ll finally grow up (sort of) and learn to get along (maybe).

1 comment:

Lisa :-] said...

I agree with Ellen Degeneres. If we're the best that creation has to offer, we're in big trouble.