Tuesday, June 15, 2004


So we flew into Seattle last week and went immediately to the funeral of my great-uncle Carl. Nice guy, but because of distance and what not I wasn't really able to spend alot of time with him. It was a basic memorial at a funeral home. With apologies to Heather, sometimes rambling isn't all it's cracked up to be. When asked what I thought of the service, I said, "It made me glad I have a liturgy to follow."

After the memorial, we drove out to the National Cemetery. Uncle Carl was a WWII vet, fought in several battles including the Battle of the Bulge. He never really talked about that, and it's easy to understand why. He spent the rest of his life talking about the good things he was doing, rather than the bad things he experienced.

So he got a military funeral and a 12-gun salute. It was good, and the cemetery is gorgeous. The speaker said something I'm sure is standard fair for these things: "Carl fought to protect this country. He served with honor. He earned the right to be buried in this place."

But then he said that revisionist historians were trying to take away what made this country great, that they were trying to reduce the importance of what we fought for. Hmmm.

I got to thinking about that. I suppose that if you were in a position of power, and fought to protect that power, you would consider the current historical trend "revisionist." And not just revisionist, but revisionist with a sneer and disdain for what threatens your past. Which is just what this particular gentleman was doing.

But is it "revisionist" to admit to, and include, your entire history? The history that includes such great events as the Boston Tea Party, the Revolutionary War, the Corps of Discovery and the Industrial Revolution that ultimately made this country an international superpower should be tempered with events such as Native American genocide, land theft, land rape (look at my future home state), slavery, child labor and racism. That's not revisionist, that's honesty.

History is all of it. The good, the bad and the ugly (apologies to Sergio and Clint). If our only history consists of the pretty and gentle things, then we need to spend a whole lot of time and effort trying to keep them clean. On the other hand, if we include all of it, the good alongside our dirty little secrets, then we can afford to be honest with ourselves and others around us. It's called "authenticity." Something my bishop advised me to be during my ministry.

Authenticity. Something each person should strive to be. Something our political leadership should work towards. Something that, ultimately, garners more respect than a highly polished story created by the victors.


First time comments will be moderated.