Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Another posthumous gift from President Ford

Watching the Ford funeral rites over the past two days, I remembered with thanks his meditations on the folly that is the war in Iraq and the sharp turn of his Republican Party towards extremism and meanness. The TV commentators shared part of a conversation with Ford's Episcopal pastor yesterday that will hopefully give some people pause.

The Episcopal church has recently gone through several years of acrimonious debates about the ordination of gay and lesbian priests, the place of women in the liturgy and other "violations" of tradition. This year, several Episcopal parishes threatened, and may in fact carry through, a separation from the worldwide Episcopal communion over the decision to ordain Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, an admitted homosexual. Those Virginia parishioners voted, in effect, to reserve for themselves the right to deny homosexuals the right to ordination, and perhaps even the right to worhip among them. Not exactly a shining hour in the history of Christianity, whose first commandment is, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," and whose unofficial second commandment is, "judge not, lest ye be judged."

President Ford expressed to his pastor his dismay over this move towards schism. He said that he saw no reason for divisiveness, not if everyone remembered to love God, and treat all his neighbors as children of God, or as he would himself. Among his other virtues, President Ford was a true Christian who embraced and lived the golden rule, and hoped that everyone would do the same. To their credit, all the commentators made a point of mentioning that. Maybe it will change a heart or two.

Rest in peace, Mr. President. You have left us a lot to think about, all of it useful.


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