The compelling experience of writing this column is disagreeable, irksome, distressing. It deals with what is so repulsive – a growing exclusivity within church parishes regarding matters of perceived “social justice” – sadly far too ubiquitous around this nation, and in Richmond, VA. Willful blindness prevails.
It concerns a RTD column written by Todd Culbertson (RICHMOND SEEKS TRUTH & RECONCILIATION- March 31, 2017), the senior editor, editorials at The Times Dispatch, which, in my mind, flirted with mendacity; Culbertson is member of St. Stephens Episcopal Church, Richmond, VA.
This recent column on the documentary film, “13th, was judgmental, reeking of sentimental absolutes. His column did not do Culbertson, or his fellow- St. Stephens Episcopal Church congregates, any favors.
This less-than-objective film about American racism was presented at the “appropriately named Fellowship Hall” with reconciliation intent. He apparently views the documentary next to the Holy Grail of movie making. “The movie”, he wrote, “depicts the historical truth that is necessary for reconciliation.” No reconciliation found here in his column.
Let’s be clear: Editor Culbertson is a savvy word-guy, with both the talent and honor to compose any piece he pleases for his Richmond Times Dispatch. Yet, in one broad brush, he characterized (unacceptably, I might add) over half of his fellow congregates as non-Pilgrims – no doubt a negative.
In his view, only those members of St. Stephens Episcopal Church, who attended the show were to be accorded “Pilgrim” status. His reasoning: those of us who didn’t choose to view the church’s screening of “13th, were somehow either insensitive, or unconstructed Richmonders.
Rev. Robert Dibble, with moderate voice, recently shared an almost forgotten television interview by the distinguished CBS journalist, Edward R. Murrow – held at the home of Carl Sandburg, leading poet, in the mountains of North Carolina back in 1954: “Mr. Sandburg, what is the ugliest word in the English language?”
With characteristic playfulness and drama, the wise poet pondered the question at length, seemingly searching for an appropriate answer. With a quizzical expression on his face, he mused, “The ugliest word? The ugliest word? He finally replied: The ugliest word in the English language is: EXCLUSIVE.
Editor Culbertson went very, very exclusive describing his non-attendees – categorizing us in the worse kind of reverse-racism manner. In my mind, it wobbled between unfair and unacceptable. He goes so far as to equate this film with church liturgy, the Stations of the Cross – all reinforcing faith.
Having a rather extensive friendship with Todd over many years – even his neighbor now for a decade, this writer is not unmindful of his propensity for writing, discoursing, on church/social issues – sharing his perceived view of overt Richmond cultural racism. I have been on the receiving end more than once on his grievances with Southerners –particular Republicans….both Commonwealth and national.
“The Americans who needed exposure to “13’s” verities stayed home. Angry white males who believe Barack Obama was the worse president and person since the previous moderate Democrat have no interest in exposing themselves reality. Really !
About the film, The 13th: Reviewers split themselves on politically ideological lines; some endorsed, others questioned – many see “13th” as a product of a disastrously confused time. Ava Du Vernay’s (director) nonfiction film interprets the Constitution’s 13th Amendment, which officially abolished slavery. Then she shifts to an extended, jumbled alarum about what’s called the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). The film ignores the W.E.B. DuBois concern – Black American Uplift – for the currently fashionable appeal of “protest,” a term that patronizing news media always preface with “peaceful” – sanctioning it as synonymous with uplift.
Armond White, writer, provocative film critic – in his October 5, 2016 review nails it: “The film rolls through history, drawing quick, superficial parallels between recent racial events (Ferguson, Baltimore) and past civil-rights milestone.” In other words,the more we can mix the original, genuine, justifiable civil rights protest, with the more recent hooligans (try Baltimore as an example), the more legitimate the hooliganism will be accepted. Thus, Du Vernay’s contrived message: Nothing has changed.”
Reflecting on last month’s Culbertson’s column, this writer, plus many congregates, stand aggrieved. Sadly, nothing has change with the continuous left-wing “round em up” mentality….either at St. Stephens Episcopal Church, or in the column of an old-time friend and neighbor.
Exclusivity is alive and well at the corner of Grove Ave. and Three Chopt Road. The Culbertson column wants it that way. And this writer is angrier than seven rattlesnakes in a gunny sack on a July day.