My choice, from an early age, has been to engage in social change from the ground up, using the power of organized nonviolence. A distrust of the political process was firmly in place by the time I was 15. As a daughter of Quakers I pledged my allegiance not to a flag or a nation state but to humankind, the two often having little to do with each other.
I’ve been mostly sitting out the Hillary vs Bernie debates. I’m in a late voting state and I have better things to do than get into Facebook flame wars. I have a natural political bias toward Sanders, but I respect Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments and would rather see a centrist than any of the increasingly-insane GOP candidates.
With that said, I’m noticing a number of retweetstorms of anti-Sanders quips filling my Twitter feed. I’m sure the infamous “Bernie Bros” exist, but most of the dismissive posts I see are from Hillary supporters. A lot of them seem to simply be mad that he would run (and be running so well). Others attack him for things said or done by supporters with no connection to the Sanders campaign.
I don’t know if it’s my observer bias given my politics and/or the makeup of friends but my distinct impression is that my Bernie-supporting friends are excited by Bernie and his ideas while my Hillary-supporting friends are mad at Bernie and his ideas and followers.
One of the white ministers with James Reeb in the 1965 attack that helped propel the Voting Rights Act remembers the night.
He also reflects on the value of white lives vs. black lives for national attention in the Civil Rights Movement. While the actual Selma march was protesting the killing of black civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson by a state trooper, national outrage focused on the visiting white minister.
In 1967, Dr. King noted, “The failure to mention Jimmy [sic] Jackson only reinforced the impression that to white Americans the life of a Negro is insignificant and meaningless.”
Don’t miss Gail Whiffen Coyle’s overview of contemporary Friends Journal coverage of Selma on our website.
How did a sandbar halfway between New Jersey and Delaware become the property of one state and not the other?
The British royal government was notoriously sloppy in its awarding of land grants in its colonies. There’s a lot of boundary ambiguity and overlapping claims. With American independence, the task for refereeing fell to the new federal government.
The specific problem of Pea Patch was as young as the nation itself. According to testimony recorded in the 1837 records of the U.S. Senate, Pea Patch was formed around the time of the American Revolution when a ship loaded with peas reportedly sunk there (smells of a tall tale to me but I’ll let it stand). Alluvial deposits formed a sandbank around the wreck and it eventually coalesced into a full-fledged island.
When claims overlap on an island in the middle of a boundary river, it’s typical to look at two measures: the first and most obvious is to see if it’s closer to one side’s riverbank. The other is to look at shipping channels and use this as a de facto boundary. According the the Senate testimony, Pea Patch Island is both closer to New Jersey and on the New Jersey side of the early nineteenth-century shipping channel.
There’s also human factors to consider: according to testimony in the Congressional Record the island was generally considered a part of N.J.‘s Salem County through the early nineteenth century. In 1813, New Jersey resident Henry Gale bought Pea Patch Island and began developing fisheries on it. New Jersey formally minuted the island as his property, confirming the land deeds and giving it to his “heirs and assigns for ever [sic].”
State ownership of Pea Patch would seem to be a pretty straight-forward decision then: geographically New Jersey’s, culturally a part of Salem County, and owned by a South Jersey businessperson.
Unfortunately for Gale, the federal government thought it was a good strategic location for a new fort. They offered him $30,000 but he didn’t think it was a fair price. They didn’t want to negotiate and so made a side deal with the State of Delaware. They decided the state boundary line should be drawn to the east of the island to make it a part of Delaware. The state declared Henry Gale a squatter and gave full ownership of the island to the U.S. War Department. Gale was forcibly evicted, his buildings demolished, his fishery business ruined. It doesn’t take a conspiracist to imagine that the Congressional Delaware delegation got something nice for their participation in this ruse.
(Later on, continuing boundary disputes between the two states led to the truly-bizarre geographic oddity that is the 12-Mile Circle. Anything built off the New Jersey coast into the Delaware River is Delaware’s. This still regularly sparks lawsuits between the states. If you could get behind the scenes I imagine you could set a whole Boardwalk-Empire-like show in the Delaware land grant office.)
A century and a half later the crumbling ruins of Fort Delaware would come under the administration of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. The DNERC folks do a great job running Fort Delaware. When reading up on this I was surprised to find Henry Gale’s name. My wife’s family has Salem County Gales so Henry is at least some sort of distant cousin of my kids. I think Delaware should give us a special toot on the ferry horn every time they land back on the soil of their ancestral home.
Yesterday I was home with the kids on comp time and got to participate in their religion session (my wife keeps them to a schedule in the summers and religion makes for a quiet half hour midday).
My 9 year old was reading the passage of Jesus’s temptation in the desert found in Matthew 4. I find it such a relatable story. No, no one with pointy ears and a red tail has offered me a kingdom lately, but there are a number of normal human elements nonetheless.
To start with, Jesus is fasting and living without shelter for forty days. I know I become less of the person I want to be when I’m hungry, tired, and stressed. The tempter also proffers a test to see if God cares. That too is familiar: how often do we want something from close family and friends but hold back to see if it’s offered. “Oh, if they really cared I wouldn’t have to remind them.” We do this with God too, confusing changing states of fortune with divine favor rather than welcoming even hard times as a opportunity for growth and understanding.
One of my favorite parts of the Lord’s Prayer is the plea that we not even be led to temptation. There’s a certain humility to that. Jesus might be able to resist the sweet promises of the tempter even when cold and hungry, but I’d rather skip the tests.
It’s hard enough living in this world in a state of humility and coöperation. None of us are perfect, starting with me, and we all certainly have plenty of room to grow. But it’s nice to know that we don’t have to face the tempter alone. God knows just how hard it can be and has our back.
A few weeks ago we were contacted by someone from the St Nicholas Center (http://www.stnicholascenter.org) asking if they could use some photos I had taken of the church my wife is attending, Millville N.J.‘s St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic. Of course I said yes. But then my correspondent asked if I could take pictures of another church she had heard of: St Nicholas Old Believer’s Church. It’s on the other side of Millville from our St Nick’s, on an ancient road that dead ends in woods. We had to visit.
The Old Believers have a fascinating history. They were Russian Orthodox Christians who refused to comply with liturgical changes mandated by the Patriarch and Czar in the 1650s. As usual, there was a lot of politics involved, with the Czar wanting to cozy up with the Greek Orthodox to ally Russia against the Muslim Ottomans, etc., etc. The theological charge was that the Greek traditions were the standard and Russian differences latter-day innovations to be stamped out (more modern research has found the Russians actually were closer to the older forms, but no matter: what the Czar and Patriarch want, the Czar and Patriarch get). The old practices were banned, beginning hundreds of years of state-sponsored persecution for the “Old Believers.” The survivors scattered to the four corners of the Russian empire and beyond, keeping a low profile wherever they went.
The Old Believers have a fascinating fractured history. Because their priests were killed off in the seventeenth century, they lost their claims of apostolic succession – the idea that there’s an unbroken line of ordination from Jesus Christ himself. Some Old Believers found work-arounds or claimed a few priests were spared but the hardcore among them declared succession over, signaling the end times and the fall of the Church. They became priestless Old Believers – so defensive of the old liturgy that they were willing to lose most of the liturgy. They’ve scattered around the world, often wearing plain dress and living in isolated communities.
The Old Believers church in Millville has no signs, no website, no indication of what it is (a lifelong member of “our” St Nick’s called it mysterious and said he little about it of it). From a few internet references, they appear to be the priestless kind of Old Believers. But it has its own distinctions: apparently one of the greatest iconographers of the twentieth century lived and worshipped there, and when famed Russian political prisoner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn visited the U.S. he made a point of speaking at this signless church on a dead end road.
* Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Believers
* Account of US Lithuanian Bespopovtsy communities: http://www.synaxis.info/old-rite/0_oldbelief/history_eng/nicoll.html
* OSU Library on iconographer Sofronv (PDF): http://cmrs.osu.edu/rcmss/CMH21color.pdf
* Solzhenitsyn’s 1976 visit: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2057793/posts