Today is the Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs (died 1886), the anniversary of the birth of Jefferson Davis, first and only President of the Confederacy (1808), and the date when, according to singer Bobby Gentry in 1967, Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge.
Today’s Saint was born in 1860 or 1865 in Bulimu, Buganda, Uganda into the Ngabi clan, and was a page of the court of King Mwanga II. While the King at first had accepted Christian missionaries among his people, he began to insist that Christian converts abandon their new faith (reportedly because his Christian pages refused to participate in homosexual acts with him; Lwanga especially protected the pages) and executed many. After a massacre of Anglicans in 1885 the court’s resident Catholic priest, Joseph Mukasa, reproached the king for the deed. Mwanga had Mukasa beheaded and arrested all of his followers. Lwanga took up Mukasa’s duties, and secretly baptized those of his pupils who had only been catechumens on May 26, 1886. Carl Lwanga and 11 other Catholics were burnt alive on June 3; another Catholic, Mbaga Tuzinde, was clubbed to death for refusing to renounce Christianity, and his body was thrown into the furnace to be burned along with Lwanga and 11 others. Lwanga and his companions in death were canonized in 1964 by Pope Paul VI. Although the Anglicans were not canonized, they were called “worthy of mention” for enduring “death for the name of Christ”. Saint Lwanga is the Patron Saint of torture victims, of converts, and of African Catholic Youth Action. We also honor Jefferson Davis, first and only President of the Confederacy, born on this date in Kentucky in 1808. After initially attending Transylvania University Davis later graduated from West Point. Davis fought in the Mexican-American War as a colonel of a volunteer regiment, and was the United States Secretary of War under Democratic President Franklin Pierce. Both before and after his time in the Pierce administration, he served as a Democratic U.S. Senator representing the State of Mississippi. As a senator, he argued against secession, but did agree that each state was sovereign and had an unquestionable right to secede from the Union. On February 9, 1861, after he resigned from the U.S. Senate, Davis was selected provisional President of the Confederate States of America; he was elected without opposition to a six-year term that November. During his presidency, Davis took charge of the Confederate war plans but was unable to find a strategy to stop the larger, more powerful and better organized Union. After Davis was captured on May 10, 1865, he was charged with treason, though not tried, and stripped of his eligibility to run for public office. While not disgraced, he was displaced in Southern affection after the war by the leading Confederate general, Robert E. Lee. However, many Southerners empathized with his defiance, refusal to accept defeat, and resistance to Reconstruction. Over time, admiration for his pride and ideals made him a Civil War hero to many Southerners, and his legacy became part of the foundation of the postwar New South. In spite of his former status as the president of the Confederacy, Davis began to encourage reconciliation by the late 1880s, telling Southerners to be loyal to the Union; he died in New Orleans in 1889, and now rests in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. Per Louisiana Revised Statues §1:55, today is Confederate Memorial Day. (Longtime readers of this weblog know that I have been in Louisiana since 1973, and married to a Cajun since 1984. But long ago I was born north of the Mason-Dixon Line, and my great-greats fought for the Union in the War; I will not eat grits, I will not suck the fat out of the heads of boiled crawfish, and I will not celebrate Confederate Memorial Day as such.) As today is the Third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day, we remember that according to singer Bobby Gentry in 1967, today is the day that Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge (as related in her hit song, “Ode to Billie Joe”). Fortunately for the local police forces in Tippah County and Leflore County, Mississippi, the old Tallahatchie Bridge collapsed in 1972, stopping those who were inclined to jump off of the bridge in imitation of Billie Joe.
I awoke at 8:30 am, started my laundry, and started the Weekly Computer Maintenance. I then did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and while eating my breakfast toast and reading the morning paper I put polish on my toenails. I then did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Sixth Day of my Corpus Christi Novena.
At 10:45 am I left the house for Lafayette, having gotten the Weekly Computer Maintenance to its last task, doing the Weekly Backup to our auxiliary drive. (While I was out, Richard did the Weekly Virus Scan for me.) At 12:00 pm I was at the Acadian Culture Center of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, checking to see if they had the 2015 stickers. (They said they were in, but they were temporarily out of them.) I then went to the Lafayette Regional Airport and double checked the carry-on bag in the United bin provided for double-checking the size of one’s bag, and it was fine. I then went to Piccadilly Cafeteria, where I ate lunch and continued reading The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith. At the Crossroads Catholic Bookstore I was looking for a Chaplet of Divine Mercy, but found that I can say it on a regular rosary. However, I did get a nice print of the Guardian Angel and a nice crucifix for the baby’s room in Connecticut. (Richard said later he was thinking of giving the kids the big print of the Guardian Angel that we have; I was somewhat aghast at this idea, since that one is ours.) Finally, at the Oreck place I picked up the vacuum cleaner and paid for the repair.
I opted to not go spend time in the comfy chairs at Barnes and Noble, because I was becoming concerned about my car; the cruise control had stopped working (again), and when I would slow down or brake I heard awful noises that seemed to be coming from the front tires. I got home at 3:30 pm, and checked the tires in the driveway (they did not look totally shredded). I went inside and reported the situation to Richard, and he said he would drive the car to our auto garage, and that I could drive the truck over to bring him back home. I told him to wait until I had gotten all of the stuff out of the car, which took three trips: the carry-on bag, the vacuum cleaner, and the bag from Crossroads, plus my purse and Barnes and Noble canvas bag that I keep with me. He could barely wait for me to be done getting all of that in the house, and left in the car. I drove the truck to the auto garage, and went inside to tell them at the counter about the cruise control; the diagnosis was that it was the brakes, and that was partly why the cruise control was not working. I went out to the truck to wait on Richard, who took a few minutes coming out (foolishly, I had not turned on the air conditioning in the truck, as I thought he’d be right out to drive us home). Instead, when he did come out, he said that Michelle’s car was ready, and that he would drive it home. Wondering why I had come all the way across town in the truck, I drove to the Hit-n-Run and purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for tonight’s drawing. When I got home at 4:00 pm, Richard was not there, and I called to make sure I was not supposed to meet him at Michelle’s place; he said no, that he had gotten gas for her car, and would be home shortly.
I was quite upset at the car deciding to die on the Wednesday, when we are to drive that car to Houston on Sunday. Richard went to Cash Magic to get some beer for me, and Michelle came over while I was watching Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm. They took her car over to her place, and she drove Richard back home. After Richard was done with the computer, at about 5:30 pm, I got on the computer and worked on Advance Daily Update Drafts through Saturday the 14th (plus a Book Review Draft). By this time it was 8:00 pm, and I went to the photographer site to order prints of the baby. After I cleared out the shopping cart, I realized that I had cleared out Callie’s shopping cart, and sent her a text message profusely apologizing for doing so. She quickly responded that it was not a problem, and that her mom had ordered stuff (after picking out the stuff via Callie’s email) under her own Email. So I ordered an 8×10 print (for Liz Ellen) and an 11×14 print (for Richard and me) under my Email of the photo that we liked. (According to Callie, the photographer should send me an invoice tomorrow.) And now I am doing my Daily Update for today, and when I am finished I will go to bed, as today has been a long and stressful day. (Not to mention hot, with the temperature around 90°.)
Tomorrow is the traditional date of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), but not the date when it is celebrated in most United States Catholic dioceses. I will finish my laundry and iron my casino pants, apron, and shirts. I will also call my OB/GYN’s office for an appointment, review the packet from St. Pius X Church in Lafayette, clean out my purse, clean out my Barnes and Noble canvas bag, and make my lunch salads for Friday and Saturday. I will also double-check my medications, in case I need to renew something at the Pharmacy on Friday.
Our Parting Quote on this Wednesday evening comes to us from Will D. Campbell, American minister, activist, author, and lecturer. Born in 1924 in Amite County, Mississippi, he was the son of a farmer, and was ordained as a minister by his local Baptist congregation at age 17. He attended Louisiana College, then enlisted in the Army during World War II where he served as a medic. After the war, he attended Wake Forest College (BA, English), Tulane University, and Yale Divinity School. Though he held a pastorate in Louisiana from 1952 to 1954, Campbell spent most of his career in other settings. In 1954, he took a position as director of religious life at the University of Mississippi, only to resign it in 1956, in part because of the hostility (including death threats) he received as a supporter of integration. He subsequently took a position as a field officer for the National Council of Churches, where he had his closest contact with the Civil Rights Movement. In 1957 Campbell participated in two notable events of the Civil Rights Movement: he was one of four people who escorted the black students who integrated the Little Rock, Arkansas, public schools; and he was the only white person present at the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Some black delegates opposed admitting him, but Bayard Rustin sponsored him. In 1961, he helped “Freedom Riders” of the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to integrate interstate bus travel, depite white mob violence, in Alabama. He appealed to Southern Christian churches to end their own segregation and fight discrimination, rather than remain silent. Campbell eventually left organized religion, though he remained firmly Christian. In 1963 Campbell left the National Council of Churches to become director of the Committee of Southern Churchmen, which provided a home for his activism in the subsequent years. This organization published a journal, Katallagete, the title of which is the New Testament Greek for the Pauline phrase “be reconciled,” a reference to 2 Corinthians 5:20. The journal featured articles about politics and social change, as understood through the lens of the Christian faith, particularly the neo-orthodox movement, which Campbell became acquainted with at Yale. Edited by James Y. Holloway of Kentucky’s Berea College, Katallagete was published from 1965 until the early 1990s. His uncompromising theology led him to keep his distance from political movements. These convictions sometimes caused friction between Campbell and other civil rights figures, for example, when Campbell ministered to members of the Ku Klux Klan and visited James Earl Ray in prison. While Campbell was best known in connection with civil rights activism, he also took an interest in other political issues. He participated in protests against the Vietnam War and helped draft resisters find sanctuary in Canada. In 1977 he wrote Brother to a Dragonfly, which was part autobiography, part elegy for Campbell’s brother, and part oral history of the Civil Rights Movement. In the late 1970s he spoke out against the death penalty, particularly after forming a relationship with John Spenkelink, whom the state of Florida executed in 1979. Campbell also expressed an opposition to abortion. Akin to the likes of William Stringfellow and Jacques Ellul (who were both contributors to Katallagete), Campbell espoused a fairly strong distrust of government and a belief that people must make their own history. These last two stands sharply distinguished Campbell’s thought from that of most religious liberal activists, bringing his views in line with those of more recent postliberal theologians, who denounce liberal (as well as conservative) esteem for civic society as a misplaced faith, an idolatry taking the place of God and Jesus Christ in the Christian life. The Committee of Southern Churchmen relinquished control of Katallagete to Campbell and Holloway in 1983. He continued writing books, mostly parables, children’s books, and books about the Civil Rights Movement. In 1999 he wrote Soul Among Lions: Musings of a Bootleg Preacher. By 2005 Campbell continued his work on a personal basis among his network of acquaintances including Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Dick Gregory, Jules Feiffer and Studs Terkel. Although remaining a Baptist, he reputedly conducted house church worship services in his home in Mt. Juliet, outside of Nashville, late into his life (died 2013): “Anyone who is not as concerned with the immortal soul of the dispossessor as he is with the suffering of the dispossessed is being something less than Christian.”