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377 S. Harrison Street, 12D
East Orange, NJ 07018
Phone: 973-395-1068 h
Married February 2, 1974
Don't repeat the mistake on page 847 of The Prayer Book . Here is what God really requires from the chosen people:
A series of essays in the Episcopal Church
Fillmore Street in San Francisco is a busy thoroughfare which bisects the city from north to south. During the 60s, when I was in private practice there, the southern portion of Fillmore St. was very international. The central part was The Fillmore District, San Franciscos biggest black ghetto. As the street climbed it went through Pacific Heights, occupied by the mansions and apartments of the wealthy. Then it sloped down to The Marina and the Bay looking out toward Alcatraz. My office was on the northern slope.
The Bank where I did business was on the border between The Fillmore and Pacific Heights. Nearby was a small restaurant where I sometimes ate lunch.
One day I was having lunch there and in came a black man who was peddling Elijah Muhammads Black Muslim newspaper, Muhammad Speaks. He offered to sell it to me, and I shook my head. He then looked at me with the most intense malevolent hatred I had ever seen, and said Learn the truth about yourself, blue-eyed devil! and walked out.
That experience startled and troubled me, and I have pondered it many times. I had never thought of myself as a blue-eyed devil, but I learned that that phrase was used by Black Muslims who meant it quite literally. I gained at least some understanding of their hatred and anger. That understanding was useful to me.
Later, I was at a social event and the hostess said to me, Oh, theres a very interesting man here, and I want to introduce you to him. Hes a former lieutenant in the German Secret Service. I flashed into anger (very unusual for me) and said, Dont introduce me to any former SS lieutenant! and I walked away, leaving her speechless.
I pondered that episode, too, but it took many years before I saw the parallel in the two events.
In the first situation it was easy for me to see that the mans hatred and anger were actually not at me personally: he had never seen me before and he didnt know me. His hatred was at me as a representative of all those Caucasian racists who had injured thousands of people with whom he identified himself.
In the second situation, my intense angry reaction came out of my experience growing up during World War II and serving in the Army during the latter part of it. Some of my friends had been killed in Germany. I was well aware of the Holocaust. My anger was not at the former SS lieutenant personally: I had never met him. My hatred and anger were at the Nazis, who had injured and killed thousands of people with whom I identified myself.
I found that it was much more difficult for me to identify and deal with my own hatred and anger than with the blast that the Black Muslim had directed at me.
And if anyone had tried to explain and dismiss my anger, especially if a few handy quotes from Scripture were thrown at me, my rage would have increased !
We American Anglicans are now the focus of intense anger from some parts of the Anglican world. We must recognize that it is because of the actual evil we represent to many people.
In both instances which I have described, and in the present Anglican situation, the deep anger has its basis in a history of deeply outrageous reality, past and present. We need not take it entirely personally, but we must not try to rationalize or explain it in order to deny or dismiss it. That only adds insult to injury. Nor, of course, must we retaliate with indignation and accusations, since that only makes it obvious that we have failed to understand the source and validity of the anger.
We can only say that we understand, as best we can, we are genuinely sorry about the terrible things that people do to each other, and we hope to have learned the necessary lessons. Sometimes we can make amends, but sometimes there is little we can do. Only our sincere intentions may make it possible to clarify that we will proceed carefully, using our own best judgment at present and in the future. Sometimes those who are angry on behalf of the sufferings of others will be able to join us on a new road.
Gordon W. Gritter
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