Thursday, July 29, 2010
Lord, what a time!
It was a time, Lord, it was a time!
It was the time when women were beginning to rouse ourselves from the cultural anesthetic of the status quo for women.
The Episcopal Church was beginning to propose changes to the canons of the church to allow for divorce. Those canons would change in 1976.
It was the time of the easy availability of the birth control pill.
Roe v. Wade had been passed in 1973, making abortion safe and legal for women.
The 1979 BCP, for the first time, would reflect this status of reproductive choice in the change to the words describing marriage to include: " . . . and when it is God's will, for the procreation of children. . . ."
In 1974, The Episcopal Church was also well launched into the revision of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. All sorts of books of "experimental" liturgies made their way into the pews - which included the radical revision of the italicized male pronoun, signaling a permissive rubric to - wait for it - change the pronoun to female when appropriate and necessary.
In 1974, Patti Hurst was abducted. Her kidnappers demand $70 of food be given to every needy Californian.
That same year, and for the first time, girls were officially allowed to play Little League softball.
'Born Innocent', staring Linda Blair from 'The Exorcist', also released in 1974, was televised. The film depicted the physical, psychological and sexual abuse of a teenage girl, and included graphic content never before seen on American television at that time.
In 1974, Ellen Burstyn won the Academy Award for the film, "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," a film depicting the travels of a widow and her preteen son across the country in search of a better life.
The famous skeleton "Lucy" was discovered in Ethiopia in 1974. It was estimated that Lucy lived between 3.9 to 3 million years ago.
In 1974, President Nixon - the only man twice elected as Vice President and President - was about to become (in August) the first president to resign while in office.
When understood in this cultural context the Ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven seems almost tame. One is apt to shrug one's shoulders and ask, "Are you kidding me? The only question is, why didn't it happen sooner?"
I was a very young wife and mother, caring for my second child, just 14 months old, who had been born to "save my marriage." I was just beginning to awaken to the fullness of my identity, and beginning to understand the delicate interconnections of love, intimacy, trust and sexuality.
As a faithful, practicing Roman Catholic at the time, I had not yet begun to consider the possibility of my own vocation. My energies were otherwise consumed with the heretofore unthinkable possibility of divorce and the "love that dares not speak its name".
I suppose, in retrospect, I shouldn't be surprised that when the NY Times news of the ordinations in Philadelphia reached me, it made me angry. Very angry.
How could these women do that?
Living with that question helped me to face other questions I had been running from all my life.
Once I began to consider the possibilities, I began the life-long journey of living into the questions of my life. I'm still discovering the answers.
Where were you on July 29, 1974?
Today, I give thanks and praise for the courage and witness of those eleven women and all those men and women who put their faith into bold, prophetic action who embody the best of both Mary and Martha.