In Case We Lose

I am a peon. It’s interesting to look at the English Oxford Living Dictionary for the definition of this word:

  • A Spanish-American day laborer or unskilled farm worker.

    1. North American A person who does menial work; a drudge.
      ‘racing drivers aren’t exactly normal nine-to-five peons’
    2. historical A debtor held in servitude by a creditor, especially in the southern US and Mexico.
  • B (in South and Southeast Asia) a low-ranking soldier or worker.

    1.  An attendant or messenger.

It’s hard to be honest about my situation, because my male white privilege has shielded me from the blunt truth: despite my academic skills, acquired through decades of study and sacrifice, despite my somewhat sedentary 33 year career as a professor, despite the fact that, in retirement, I carry no debt, despite the fact that I, a sometime gay activist,  have always kept more than one foot in the straight world, despite all these things, I am a peon. I work for the man. The man lets me live.

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It’s the Patriarchy, Part I: Fundamentalism

In times like these, where there is a revolutionary change in the political order, we need an overview of change that will help us to keep our balance while we struggle to keep from falling. For me, that anchor, structure, overview, whatever you want to call it, is the patriarchy. We might quibble at the meaning of that term, so here is the first sentence of the Wikipedia article on it: “Patriarchy is a social system in which males hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property.” And while some might also argue about the degree of power males have in the USA, there really can be no reasonable argument about the dominance of patriarchy here. What we are now seeing with the political sweep of the Republican Party in this country is the re-establishing of patriarchy as the dominant means of social control.

So let’s talk about political leadership in a male-dominated society. Remember the  “New World” was created by emissaries of European kings and queens. They took the land from the Native Americans, calling them “savage” and used the dominant military technology of the time to slaughter, subdue, or otherwise corral the indigenous people. That is because the Native Americans fought back, seeing that their way of life was being forcibly replaced by this cruel and conquering flood.

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A Most Fortunate Andris Reunion

My mom, Lorene “Red” Sullivan Andris, kept alive the stories of three branches of our family, and I, James Fernand Andris, wrote down and expanded upon these stories over my lifetime. This past week, I met my seventh Andris cousin, Ghislaine Andris Rockwood, a most fortunate Andris reunion. All of this started, however, with Jean Joseph Andres and Ursula Hocquemiller. It is likely that Jean Joseph and Ursula met because both their families were working on the reconstruction of the Basilica of St. Laurent at Kempten in the Allgaü region at the very southern tip of Germany. They likely just started their family right after 1700, and by the end of that first decade, they had a daughter, Anastasie, and three sons named after the legendary three wise men, Melchior, Balthazar, and John Gaspar. Yet six more sons would issue from that union, including my fifth great grandfather, Jean, in 1712 and Ghislaine’s fifth great grandfather, Antoine, in 1721.

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My Irish Eyes are Smiling and Crying, too: A Reflection on the Grandfather I Never Knew

In the wake of the Republic of Ireland voting more than 3 to 5 to legalize same-sex marriage, I have been thinking a lot about the Irish grandfather I never knew: Franklin Marion Sullivan. Actually, Frank was only half Irish. His dad, Frank David Sullivan, worked sporadically on the riverboats of the Ohio. He managed to sire five children by Carolina Buertel in his occasional stays with her on Pleasant Ridge in Washington County. After their fifth child, Frank D went off and did not return. Carolina was sick with cancer, and died when my grandfather was five. It is only in the last year or two that I have discovered that Frank D very likely had a second wife in Cincinnati, Ohio, and left Carolina for her.

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My Strength and My Redeemer (Conclusion)

What do I make of my dream, then, quoting from Part 1 of this epistle?

“I am out on the street in some small town with a woman I don’t know. She is perhaps 35 or 40 years old, and I somehow know that she is a lesbian. She proposes to me that we both take turns putting a nickel in the nearby parking meter, and that as we do this, we offer up a prayer. I am to go first. I rummage around in my pocket, and there are lots of dimes and quarters, and one nickel that I finally discern. I take it out, and as I insert it into the parking meter, both I and my surroundings are suddenly transported. Now the sky is dark and ominous, and I am sitting in a wheelchair feeling very weak. I am struggling to say the prayer that is not yet in my mind. I hear myself, stuttering, hesitant and trembling, say and then repeat, “Lord, you are my strength and my redeemer.” I am crying as I say this. And then I wake up.”

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My Strength and My Redeemer (Part II)

Coincidentally, Sunday was the opening of the Trinity “All Things New” art show, containing some of the artwork of our fellow parishioners. I happened to have contributed to this show a piece of counted cross stitch, which you can see below. The text displayed with this piece is as follows: “”The Lord Is My Shepherd” stitched by Jim Andris in 2013, design by Sandy Orton of Kooler Design Studios: Counted cross-stitch, embroidery floss on 14 count ecru Aida cloth, 11 1/4w by 16 1/4h inches, stitch count 154w x 224w. The 23rd Psalm has been part of my strength and my refuge since my father read and explained it to me at age five. When I saw this design of Sandy Orton’s, I knew I had to bring it into being.”

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My Strength and My Redeemer (Part I)

This morning I attended Trinity Episcopal Church, where Stephen and I have been attending for the past 29 years. I think it is fair to say that Trinity is at least a center of our lives, if not the center of our lives. I can also say that we are anything but traditional Christians. For one thing, we both are careful in our lives to make room for our non-Episcopalian friends. We have other broad circles of friends of differing faiths, of no particular faith, and of faith in the non-existence of God.

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