Today is the feast day of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth,and Harriet Ross Tubman, "Liberators and Prophets", which is not untrue, but sounds mighty political to me. It annoys me that they are all lumped together, given that they did such different things. It also annoys me that in the collect for today, they are referred to by first name only, which is not the standard for the collects for the saints. I went so far as to write the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music a few years back to point out this discrepancy. I find it a galling oversight, far beyond the slightness of the offense. There's something about the omission of that nicety of courtesy that underscores the need for the work that these women did. It riles me up, it do.
While I was at Convention, while waiting in the House of Deputies for the results of D025 to come back, we got to hear a snippet of the debate over the inclusion of WEB DuBois in the church calendar. In particular over the use of the term "Black Folk" in the collect of the day rather than "African Americans." To be clear, it was two black women (one from the Virgin Islands) who stood up to change the term from African American to Black Folk, and this rather nervous looking white fellow who stood up to say that "Some of the southern bishops thought using the term 'black folk' would cause needless pain." A delegate from, I believe, South Dakota and far more native to it than most stood up to say, "If we want to be a culturally sensitive church, it would be a good idea for us to listen to the people from the cultures to which we wish to be sensitive." The amendment passed.
But there is a larger issue, for me anyway: are we tossing all sorts of people into our calendar--claiming them--in a way that is inappropriate? A friend of mine made a snarky comment about the four women being remembered today when I posted it was their feast day on Facebook, then apologized, saying, "as a Catholic, I just don't get what being put on the calendar means in the Episcopal Church."
He's not alone. And there was a huge revision to that this year at General Convention. I appreciated Dan Martins' thorough examination of the issues here. He says, "I fear we are making utter fools of ourselves, turning the sanctoral calendar into a flatbed truck to carry the freight of our collective neurotic guilt, trying desperately to demonstrate our inclusivity to an ecumenical community that will just chuckle softly as they shake their heads in bemused bewilderment."
I doubt many will pay that much attention. But I will. And I am uncomfortable with what seems to me to be claiming people for our calendar to make us feel better about ourselves.