Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 160 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Sunday, June 30, 2024

A holiday week ahead - Rector's Rambling for June 30, 2024

     This week our country celebrates our Independence as a nation.  Although the date we celebrate has to do with our declaration that we are a people free from the English Crown, it would still be many years until that was won by military victory with the surrender at Yorktown on October 19, 1781.  After a failed attempt at a loose confederacy of states, our Constitution was written in 1787 and not completely ratified until 1791.  The new government was installed in 1789 with 11 of the 14 states had approved its use, with North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont adding their consent afterwards.

I am a history buff, particularly colonial history.  Having lived in Philadelphia for nine years, I was immersed in things colonial, not just for historical facts, but also for the observation of the human condition and human desires.  Although we know the squeaky clean version of our striving for independence, in fact it was quite messy.  Good men and women disagreed honestly and faithfully on whether or not the colonies should separate, and then after the war for independence had deeply held convictions that led to disagreements about how to form a new government “by and for” the people of this new country.

In recent years the wildly popular Broadway play HAMILTON has brought a new interest in this time period, through a rap music medium.  Although there are a few historical anomalies in the script, it lays out an intriguing look at the life of founder, and first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.  Our financial system still rests upon much of his work nearly 230 years ago.

In the play we are introduced to the first bishop of the Episcopal Church, Samuel Seabury (not identified as a priest in the musical) who disagrees with the push for independence, and we see deeply held disagreements between Hamilton and Jefferson about how this new federal government and financial system should work.  Backstabbing and skullduggery were not unusual then between disagreeing political groups.  Even George Washington’s campaign for re-election found the beloved founding father being slandered.  John Adams served only one term because opposition attacked him and the tight federal system promoted by some founders.  Other founders with contrary opinion came to leadership and found themselves attacked too.

And despite the back and forth of leadership style, opinion, and counter-opinion, and all the maliciousness that human beings have mustered throughout every generation, this Union and government continues, I believe, by God’s anointing.  And if you don’t agree with something, vote and work for change as we have since 1776.