Sunday, September 11, 2005

Arthur Stanley MacNair

September 11th.
I don't deal well with days like this, especially when they fall on a Sunday. I think worship services should be reserved for worship, not for political rallies. Needless to say I am quite alone in my views, especially in the circles which I find myself residing.
I make a point of not talking about politics in this blog. I have some very definite opinions about things, opinions I feel very passionate about, but in the circles of conservative Christians in which I find myself walking, I feel like a man without a country. I'm not in the mood to receive a verbal thrashing, so I just avoid certain topics.
How did I get this way? Why am I theologically conservative but politically liberal? And why do I stubbornly insist on holding to positions that people around me respond to with insults and demeaning language? To answer that, let me tell you a story.

Arthur Stanley MacNair was born on August 7th, 1913, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, named after his father. At a certain age, I'm not sure when, the family moved to Los Angeles. His family joined Atwater Park Baptist Church. He went to UCLA, and was a UCLA football fan all of his life. He had designs on becoming a labor negotiator. After a visit from a seminary representative to his church, he decided to go into the ministry.

Stanley MacNair met Marjorie Morgan in the late 1930's, attending school in Berkeley, California. They were married in 1939, and he was ordained the same year. Stanley and Marjorie MacNair were always known to me simply as "Grandma and Grandpa Mac." Never one without the other.

Grandpa Mac was a minister in Exeter, California during World War II. At this point I will let the words of my grandmother pick up the tale.

"He was a pacifist from way back so when World War II came along, he was planning to register in the classification for ministers which would have exempted him from the draft. many people accepted this as they felt ministers would naturally be against fighting. But the CO's had a special derogatory classification. We had three school teachers in our church in Exeter - (a small, very conservative valley town) - two men and one woman. She didn't have to register but she was the wife of one of the men. They were very firm in their CO beliefs and registered as CO's. Grandpa, in order to identify with them, registered as a CO also, rather than as a minister. (Later, they were assigned very demeaning alternate service.)

"The three teachers were fired from their jobs. I was asked to resign from the YWCA leadership for girls in the high school. The minister of the Presbyterian church who had only been there a few months was fired as he registered as a CO also. His organist, a leading socialite in the town, led the crusade against all of us - she was responsible for my being asked to give up the YWCA leadership. One funny thing - in that town everyone went to the post office to get their mail. Often Grandpa would go in the evening or after dark. The word spread that he was meeting with "the enemy." When he saw the lady coming down the street he would purposefully greet her with "good morning Mrs. Clawson!" If she saw him coming she would cross to the other side of the street.

"We had been at Exeter for 2 and 1/2 years when the war was declared so our members knew us pretty well and were very fond of Grandpa. But he told his board of deacons that he was placing his resignation in their hands and if they ever felt they should accept it, he would understand and leave. But we didn't leave for another 2 plus years - and then for him to pursue his doctorate."

Arthur Stanley MacNair, my Grandpa Mac, was a funny man. He was a good man; he was a generous man; he was a loving man. He certainly wasn't stark raving mad as some conservative bloggers would like to paint all liberals as. He had courage in spades. It is that courage, to stand up for what he believed in come what may, that I look to and draw upon on a day like today, when I feel the need to sit during the Pledge of Allegiance, and when I feel the necessity to pray instead of sing "God Bless America." In my opinion, a church that identifies so closely with the culture of its nation that it can't be distinguished from it, has lost the ability and the right to speak prophetically to it. And what of international believers who may be visiting our services on a day like today? They certainly can't give an Amen to our hymns of patriotic praise.

I thought a lot about Grandpa Mac today. He died in 1996, but I wish he was still here, because I know that at least one person in this world would get it. At least one person would understand.

Somehow, somewhere, I have to believe he does.


Blogger Assorted Babble by Suzie said...

I do understand you! Thanks for sharing this post with me and about your grandfather. (smiling)

3:19 PM  
Blogger T.S. Hendrik said...

Conservatives and Liberals are both a bit screwy and corrupt from what they used to be.
I vote for the constitutional party.

Your Grandpa sounds like he was a cool guy to know

2:08 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

It's interesting what you say. I believe that God loves nations - he has always worked with nations, he has bound them by covenants and he has cursed them. He has blessed them richly and he has promised them incredible things. Nationalism is a healthy thing, but I think that nationalism must be considered in the context of the nation.

For example, the French priest who is an assistant at our indult parish is a nationalist. He loves France, and he loves the French. But when he speaks most proudly of France, it is rooted in the period prior to the French Revolution. Prior to the anti-Catholic revolt and the enthronement of the goddess of reason. Prior to the motto of "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity - Or Death!"

You have to understand your nation in order to know what's praiseworthy about it. There is much that is praiseworthy about the United States, but there is also much that isn't. I believe that this country was founded on principals that are, in the long run, antithetical to the growth and development of the Catholic faith. And as I believe that the Catholic faith is the True Faith, outside of which there is no salvation - it's a bit tough to view in ultimately praiseworthy terms the country that works against it.

I also don't always post my views on these topics, because, well, they make me sound like a whacko. And it's going to take more study in order for me to be able to properly substantiate them. So don't be afraid to be a man whose heart feels as though it is without a country, but don't be afraid to praise what is good about the country in which you live.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Allen said...

I understand what you are saying, Sean, because I feel much the same way. I do love my country, but I feel that the church should stay out of politics. The mission of the Church is to share the Gospel of Christ. I lean more towards the liberal side myself politically, although I feel I am more in the center.

9:15 PM  

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