Thursday, October 21, 2010

From the Costly Grace blog: two excellent posts on the life and thought of a regional missionary bishop

Fr. Hall from Brookings posts in two parts full of rich material.

Part I gives biographical insight,

"Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple was a truly remarkable man; he was one of the finest examples of what a Bishop of the Episcopal Church can be and do on a number of levels, both within the Church, as emissary of the Church, and as a public citizen of the United States of America."

Be sure to visit the links Fr. Hall provides, especially to Bp. Whipple's passionate appeal on behalf of Native Americans sentenced to death - Whipple points out that the planned mass hanging almost seems small in comparison to the wider cultural devastation inflicted on the tribes. (President Lincoln ultimately pardoned 265 of the 303 condemned warriors).

Part II brings out Whipple's views of church mission. Fr. Hall includeds this worthwhile introduction, which is so necessary to exploring the thought of another generation:

"...being a good Victorian, Whipple did refer to Native Americans in what now appears to be highly politically insensitive (read: offensive) language. To be true to the sermon, the beliefs of his era, and to perhaps generate a bit of discussion on race relations particularly in South Dakota, I am including that point, noting them as [SIC]. Before you jump off your PC bandwagon to condemn him, however, you need read my previous blog entry and other testimony here, as I think Whipple was light years ahead of others in terms of treating Native Americans with incredible respect as Children of God."

This same caveat is necessary to read the thoughts of Bp. William Hobart Hare, first Bishop of the Dakotas. He speaks of Native Americans in ways which are offensive to contemporary ears yet his personal involvement with and work for the tribes shames our distant, impersonal, alternately romantic and bureaucratic treatment of them today.

Back to Bp. Whipple: Fr. Hall shares selections from the sermon "The Work of a Missionary Church" (1862). I suggest you go to the link and read rather than have me excerpt an excerpt, but here's a teaser - it stands up as well in 2010 as in 1862,

THE WORK IS DIFFICULT FOR THE WORLDLINESS OF WESTERN LIFE.-"If gold is the only end, it will here be sought by trickery, by falsehood, by extortion, by worldly work, without a day of rest, and by a life without faith in God or hope of heaven."

THE WORK IS DIFFICULT BY INDIFFERENCE.-"The heart is dead and cold. For long years they have silenced every angel whisper; they have cast off God, and sin holds them in its unchallenged possession. To reach such men, to break up this ice-bound sea, to lead them out of their benumbed stupor, is a work of difficulty. The only message which can reach such hearts is in the love of Jesus Christ."

No comments: