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The Ministry I Didn’t Pursue

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A guest post by MJ Lisbeth

In my youth, I didn’t make many good decisions. Two of the good ones, though, came during my service as an Army Reservist.   

The first came after my first session on the shooting range. I managed, somehow, not to miss the target.  The instructor called me aside. I expected a reprimand, or worse.  

“Have you ever handled a weapon before?”

“No, sir!”

He said he was going to recommend me to someone whose name I didn’t catch. Turns out, he was involved with sniper training. Would I be interested?

In the Army, and in most of the world’s armed forces, snipers are given, if not privileges, then at least a wider berth than other soldiers. Seen, rightly, as eccentrics–most are more introverted,and many have more artistic impulses than others in uniform—snipers are treated with a combination of fear and awe.  

I declined, with a combination of my limited social skills and the little military etiquette I’d learned up to that point.  I feared that the man who made the offer and my unit commander could make me miserable, but I feared more the fate of too many snipers: they die at the hands of other snipers. Much to my relief, my refusal didn’t seem to have any effect on my experience in uniform.

The second good decision came regarding something not as potentially life-altering or -ending. When I mentioned that I was interested in returning to school, my commander said he could recommend me for the chaplaincy. Years later, I realized he was basing his offer on, ironically, the same qualities (aside from my ability to shoot) that might’ve made me a good sniper: my introversion and intuition, or at least the fact that I was (and am) quieter and less exuberant than the other young recruits.

Although the Army listed my religious preference as “Roman Catholic,” mainly because it usually classified its members according to the religion in which they were born or raised, I hadn’t attended mass in a long time. I had become an Evangelical Christian but the flame of my faith—and of any belief in a supreme being—was flickering by that time. For that reason, I passed on the suggestion that I become a military chaplain.

Turns out, although I ultimately made the right choice for me—in part because I had no plans to remain in the military any longer than I needed in order to attain my goals—I’d based my decision on a flawed perception of what chaplains (and, by extension, other clergy members) do, and what makes it effective to the extent that it is. 

What got me thinking about all of that was an interview NPR Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon conducted with David Sparks, who is retiring after more than 40 years of “comforting” service members at Dover Air Force Base as the flag-draped caskets of their loved ones arrive. Interestingly, this retirement will be his second: after retiring as a uniformed chaplain, he returned to that role as a civilian who is a Church of the Nazarene pastor.

He talked about what a “privilege” it was to try to “support” families on what is “ostensibly the worst day of their lives.” He got that last part right: what can be worse than losing a spouse, a parent, a sibling, or a friend in a random and possibly senseless incident? But men and women who’ve been in combat—and their loved ones—rarely use words like “privilege” to describe their experience. Some—officers, usually—might talk about “duty” or “honor.” One thing Hemingway, whatever else you might want to say about him, understood very well is that it’s all but impossible to convey the experience of battle to people who haven’t experienced it because when you describe it, you’re speaking an essentially different language from what most people are accustomed to hearing. I will be the first to admit that, as someone who never experienced battle, I will never fully understand someone who has, or who has borne the loss of someone who has.

Reverend Sparks, at least, seems honest enough to make such an admission. That is why, during his interview, he confessed, “there isn’t anything you can say” that “can be of much help.” Truth is, all he or any man or woman of the cloth can offer is to affirm whatever belief or hope the grieving family member may have. He told the story of a woman who wanted to know whether her husband was in heaven.  “What does your faith tell you?” he responded. “She answered her own question,” he recalled.

That story reminded me of why I chose not to become a chaplain: the job is premised on a notion that, I suspect, most people have when they join or are conscripted into the military: God is on our side. While I still had some semblance of belief in something like the God of the Abrahamic religions, I didn’t feel certain that God would always look with favor on everything we, as a fighting unit or nation, did, let alone that what we did would be moral or just. Much later, I would come to see that nations and empires, with few exceptions (most notably Communist countries like the Soviet Union and China, which officially espoused atheism) have always gone to war with the belief that “God (whatever they call him/her/it) is on our side.”  

Of course, today, as an atheist, I do not believe any such thing. It seems to me, though, that it’s all but impossible to send young people off to take the risk of getting maimed or killed—or to convince their parents that it’s a “good” and “honorable” thing to do, let alone a “privilege,” without a belief that they’re doing it for, if not a being, then at least a force or institution, greater than themselves or anything they have imagined—and, the more vague their conception of it, the better Or, at least, whatever they believe in will understand when they do the things they’ve been trained to do, or fall victim to someone who’s trained in the “arts of war.” 

(I am not a fan of Star Wars. I will concede, however, that its writers understand what I’ve described in my previous paragraph.)

One of John Milton’s purposes in writing Paradise Lost was to “justify the ways of God to Man.” William Blake and others said, in essence, that he failed, if spectacularly and beautifully, in that endeavor. What people—like the woman Reverend Sparks mentioned—want from pastors and chaplains is, I believe, the inverse: to justify the ways of people, and those who conscript them into such endeavors, to God or Yahweh or Allah or whatever they call whatever they believe in. How else can they convince themselves that their sacrifices, or those of their loved ones, had purpose and meaning?

What I found most interesting, though, about Scott Simon’s interview with Reverend Sparks is the latter’s tacit admission that what he accomplishes is not achieved through faith or his knowledge of his scripture or theology.  Rather, it is through some basic psychology. For example, he says that he got the woman in his story “to answer her own question.” And, he says, sometimes all he can do is let people tell their stories and those of the loved ones they’ve lost.  

It’s no wonder, then, that today, in all but the most extreme or fundamentalist churches, aspiring clergy members are encouraged to undergo training in psychology, social work, and related fields. Members of church hierarchies might believe that such training makes for a more effective ministry. They are right, if one defines an “effective ministry” as one that serves people in their time of need.  While I don’t know whether Reverend Sparks has an MSW or a degree in clinical psychology, his story illustrates that the techniques one learns from training in such areas—or from life experience—do more to meet the needs of someone who is grieving or otherwise in distress than knowledge of the Bible or theology. (Editor’s note: Chaplain David Sparks holds a Master of Divinity from Nazarene Theological Seminary.)

Oh, and that’s another reason why I didn’t become a chaplain: I realized, especially after volunteering on a suicide hotline, that if I really wanted to comfort or help someone, there could be absolutely no other agenda—especially a geopolitical or religious one—involved. You might say that an organization that trains people to kill helped me to make at least one good decision in my youth.


Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.


Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

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There was once a Catholic priest with an inquiring mind. Perhaps not surprisingly, he was a Jesuit. He also believed that Christian teachings are just part of the answer to the question of what we came from and why — and where we could go. Science is another piece of that puzzle, and it could be joined with faith in philosophy, classical and current. Perhaps not surprisingly, he was French.

The Church authorities weren’t always pleased with his work and, while his books weren’t placed on the Index, some weren’t published during his lifetime. In the meantime, though, the prelates, in France and the Vatican, did whatever they could to detour his scholarly and scientific work. (Perhaps it had something to do with his use of the “E word” to describe human development, intellectually and spiritually as well as physically.) So, he went to China, where he joined a scientific expedition that included a fellow Jesuit.

This French priest would have a hand in what was considered one of the most important scientific discoveries of the time:  Peking Man, the oldest set of remains that were recognizably human found up to that time. Among other things, it indicated that the human race was about a quarter of a million years older than previously thought.

During the last three decades of his life, he would return to France only for visits with family and friends.  He devoted his time to research, which took him to Africa and the United States as well as China.  

So, what got me thinking about Pierre Teilhard de Chardin? The discovery of remains of Native Canadian children buried on the grounds of Catholic boarding schools funded by the government — and the priest sex-abuse scandals.

I’ll admit that it’s difficult for me not to think about the latter when I hear about the Roman Catholic Church:  I am one of many who suffered and survived that terrible history.  Although thousands of former altar boys and others who grew up in the Church have come forward during the past few years, we are still only a very small minority of those who endured exploitation by those who were seen as God’s proxies:  Many, many more didn’t live to tell their stories.  

Nor did those Native children who, although they died far too young, endured more and greater indignities than most people.  Those kids were taken away from their families and communities, and the schools’ curricula were aimed to, among other things, deracinate them: Their language, customs, spiritual beliefs, and everything else that formed their identities were taken from them. In doing so, the schools made the young people dependent on a church and culture that never would treat them as equals: In many Native cultures, teachings secular as well as spiritual have, as a purpose, making young people able to live off, and in harmony with, the Earth. But, even in its most benevolent forms, Christianity teaches the exact opposite: that humans have dominion over the mountains, rivers, seas, and the flora and fauna that grow, roam, swim, and fly in them.

I have read many reports about the discovery of those boarding school burial grounds. I also made what some would consider a mistake: I read comments that readers left in response. Some condemned the Canadian government and the Church. A few had ideas about what could or should be done. Then there were those who believed the reputation of the Church was being unfairly besmirched. One commenter wondered, “Why do they have to dig up the past?”

I wonder whether the person who made that comment consciously chose that phrase: “Dig up.” I saw it again on the Facebook page for alumni of my old Catholic school. They heard about the priest who abused me and, probably, other kids — and another priest (whom I knew) who took advantage of other kids. Some said, in effect, that those of us who told our stories were lying, which didn’t surprise me. They didn’t want their rosy memories of those “simpler times” beclouded by dark intrusions. In that sense, they were like another alumnus who asked the same question as the commenter on the story about boarding schools.

“Why do they have to dig up the past?” Church officials probably asked the same question about Pere Teilhard de Chardin and his fellow researchers. And, like some of my old classmates and people who heard the news about the boarding schools, they are doing what they can to deny what “digging” has uncovered — and to vilify us for daring to tell, not only our own stories, but those who didn’t live to tell theirs, whether they died twenty or two hundred years or millennia ago.  


Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Just the Man for the Job

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Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

(Warning: Sarcasm follows!)

Rudy Giuliani’s law license has been suspended in New York. That means Donald Trump could be headed to prison . . . unless he faces a sympathetic judge and jury. In that case, he might be sentenced to community service.

Now, we all know that such a sentence works best when the person sentenced is given a job commensurate with his or her talents, skills, experience, and temperament. Now, I don’t know how many slots there are for guys who’ve destroyed everything in their path to build garish condominium towers and casinos — and stiffed everyone, from the ones who mixed the drinks to the banks who lent him the money. But I should think that there must be something out there for a reality TV host, spreader of alternative realities, and all-around huckster, I mean, communicator. And I can’t help but think there might even be a job for someone who, after James Alex Fields Jr drove his car into a crowd of people who were protesting the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville (and killed Heather Heyer in the process) declared:

I think there is blame on both sides. You look at, you look at, both sides. I think there’s blame on both sides, and I have no doubt about it…you had people who were very fine people on both sides.

“Very fine people on both sides.” Hmm . . . That shows us the man is capable of fairness and even-handedness. And how he was persecuted for it . . . by atheist transgender liberal Democrats—who live in places like New York and San Francisco, of course. The calls for his impeachment, which began practically the day he was elected, only grew louder because, you know, they just don’t understand how much he’s done for them.

Well, waddayano: A vacancy has just opened up — and Mr. Trump is just the one to fill it. The Right Reverend Monsignor Owen Keenan, late of the Merciful Redeemer Parish of Mississauga. (Is that Canada’s spelling bee equivalent of Mississippi?) Ontario has just tendered his resignation to Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto. Father Keenan will be a tough act to follow, especially given the circumstances that led to his resignation.

Recently, 215 bodies were unearthed at the Kamloops residential school run by the Catholic Church in British Columbia. Canadians, being liberal socialists who speak French, folks who try to right wrongs past or present, were outraged. In a survey that followed, two-thirds of respondents said churches that ran residential schools should bear responsibility for the abuses that happened in them. One couldn’t blame them for expecting Father Keenan, who claims reverence for the man (whether or not he ever existed) who delivered the Sermon on the Mount, to address their shock and grief. That he did, with this tidbit:

I presume that the same number would thank the church for the good that was done in those schools. But, of course, that question was never asked. And, in fact, we’re not allowed even to say that good was done in those schools. I await to see what comes to my inbox.

Now tell me, who can possibly follow up someone who says “good was done” in schools where native children were isolated from their families and cultures, and stripped of their customs, language and spiritual beliefs? Of course: someone who realizes there was “blame” and “very fine people” “on both sides.” Such a man no doubt understands that there is the “flip side” to every story: the technological innovations of Nazi Germany, the Mafia’s eradication from Havana under Castro, and the sudden drop in crime rates 20 years after Roe v Wade. Oh, wait, he can’t mention that last one in a Catholic parish, can he? But at least we can rest assured that good will be done under his leadership, whether or not we acknowledge it.

That is, as long as he stays out of jail.


Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Why It’s Personal For Me

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Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

Take history personally.

I gave that advice to one of my classes. I think that if you want to understand how not only “the world,” but also your immediate environment came to be, and what you can do about it, there really is no other choice.

For reasons I could articulate only recently, African American history has hit very close to home for me. While a sibling’s DNA test revealed that we have about 5 percent African blood—which, I imagine, everyone has, at bare minimum—almost nobody would ever take me for anything but a white person. It’s not just the shade of my skin or the color of my hair and eyes; my point of view and even tastes (including those in hip-hop artists) have been shaped, directly or indirectly, by being inculcated with Anglo-European-American values and culture.

Somehow, though, reading about the ways Africans were brought to these shores, and the brutal realities they have lived—and hearing stories of being subjected to or fleeing from hate-fueled violence, on recordings and in person—felt like hearing a voice from within myself. As an example, when I wrote about the Tulsa Race Massacre, I cried as if I were describing some experience of my own that I’d forgotten or suppressed in my waking life but rose up in dreams and nightmares like an air bubble in a stagnant pond. And mentioning Olivia Hooker felt like remembering some long-lost or -forgotten relative.

One reason why I so identify with the historic and present trials of African Americans is not simply empathy (though I’ve been told by more than one person that I have it). It has become clearer to me in two developments of the past few years: the ways in which churches have had to come to terms with their relationship to slavery and the revelation of long-suppressed accounts of sexual exploitation of children—including me, when I was an altar boy—and others who are vulnerable by clergy and others well-placed in religious institutions.

As best as I can tell, the only white Christian denominations or communities in the US that didn’t benefit from, or have some role in, declaring other human beings as property and using them as agricultural machinery or worse, are the Amish, Mennonites, and Quakers. In fact, the Southern Baptist Church—to this date, the largest Protestant denomination in the US—began from a rift with the larger Baptist church over slaveholding. And, at least one historian has argued that the Roman Catholic Church was the first corporate slaveholder in the Americas.

While the 1838 sale of 272 slaves by Georgetown University president Thomas Mulledy to pay off the debts of what would become America’s most prestigious Catholic institution of higher education has been known for some time, other purchases, receipt of gifts, sale and transfer of slaves by various orders of priests and nuns, as well as by parishes and dioceses, has only recently been coming to light. And, decades before Columbus landed at Hispaniola, Pope Nicholas V issued a bull instructing King Alfonso V of Portugal . . . to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever . . . [and] to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit . . .

Both the Catholic and Southern Baptist churches, as well as others, are being prodded by individual members and, in a few cases, clergy members, to confront and make amends for their history of slaveholding. In both cases, as with other Christian churches, leadership has ignored or denied the problem, or tried to dismiss it by saying, in essence, “that was then.” But even if efforts by individual congregants and clergy members result in paying reparations to descendants of those who were bought, sold or used, it won’t erase centuries of trauma that have helped to perpetuate racial inequity.

If the plotline of this story, if you will, seems familiar, it’s because you’ve heard it recently, in another context, and with (mostly) different victims. You see, every one of those congregations (as well as the Amish and Orthodox Jewish communities) has been rocked by revelations of sex abuse by priests, pastors, deacons and other religious leaders. Moreover, they are reacting to allegations of everything from molestation of children to sexual assault of adults in the same ways they’re reacting to the “news” about slavery: denial or vilification of those who would “bring up the past” to “stir up trouble.”

What I’ve come to realize is that enslavement and sexual exploitation, whether by priests or plantation owners, often happen to the same people. (Example: Sally Hemmings) Most important, though, they happen for the same reason: A power dynamic that mainly privileges certain groups of people (usually, white men from the upper or middle classes) encourages them to see those with less power as less human. A child in this vortex, especially if he or she has not yet received Communion or Confirmation, is not a fully-formed human; according to Nicholas V’s bull, an African is and cannot be, by definition, one.

In other words, you can’t exploit or enslave someone who has as much power as you—whether that power is the result of wealth, rank in an organization, education, or that person’s actual or perceived status. That status, or lack thereof, can derive from race or gender as well as achievement. (Contrary to popular perception, rape is more commonly done by white men to non-white women than by non-white men to white women. ) Whatever its source, those on the bottom didn’t ask to be there and got there, usually, through no choice or fault of their own.

While I would not compare even the worst experiences I’ve had to anything enslaved people (or, in too many cases, their descendants) have endured, they and I were exploited, and had parts of our selves taken away, for essentially the same reason: Someone who had more power saw us less than human, or simply less human than themselves. And the way churches are dealing (or not) with the aftermath of our exploitation is, unfortunately, all too personal.

Talking about my sexual abuse by a priest was a step in claiming my identity as a transgender woman and reclaiming myself as a subject rather than an object in my history, and within whatever histories I’ve been a part. Likewise, confronting a church’s, or any other institution’s, role in or relationship to slavery is nothing less than a way for descendants of the enslaved to reclaim their personal and collective histories as well as to claim their current identities. If that isn’t personal for me, I don’t know what is.


Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Justice For Tulsa — And Olivia Hooker

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Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

He cradled the baby girl in his arms.  But he did not beam with pride; instead, his face took on the sober look of someone who realizes how much responsibility he has.

“Redemption,” he rasped.  “She is my chance at redemption.”

He’d killed.  It was not a boast or a threat ― or even a confession.  Just a statement of fact:  “I killed.”  Several times, many people ― about 600, by his reckoning.  That the murders ― yes, he called them that ― were sanctioned by his country and ordered by someone above him on the chain of command did not matter, he said.  They were murders, pure and simple, he said.

“I killed.  There’s no other way to say it.”  He didn’t wait for me to take in what he’d said.  Truth is, I couldn’t have, not until much later.  “And there’s no justice, there can never be justice,” he continued.  “If you are a human being, there’s no way you can justify killing another human being.”

He glanced at the baby in his arms.  “All I can do is to love her, give her the best life I can.”  That, he said, was his only hope of “redemption” and the only “step” he could take “toward justice.”

One reason why his words have stuck with me is that he is the sort of man he was:  a blue-collar guy from a blue-collar background.  His family went to church every Sunday but weren’t terribly religious otherwise.  He went to Vietnam, he said, “without much faith, with only a vague belief in God” and “came back with none.”

I thought about that man, long gone, when I heard about the events in Tulsa and Charlotte.  I am no historian, but somehow I sensed that the news, well, wasn’t new.  Like too many other American cities, both are simply re-enacting long-standing fears and resentments between white and black, police and civilians, and those who have and those who have not.

All it took was a few minutes on Google to confirm my suspicions.  Although Charlotte would witness neither the peaceful demonstrations nor the angry protests of the Civil Rights movement that rocked nearby Greensboro, it was a very troubled city, at least according to accounts like the one James Baldwin gave in The Fire Next Time.  

Like Charlotte, Tulsa also did not host peaceful protests or erupt into riots during the turbulent 1960s.  But the self-proclaimed “Oil Capital of the World” was the stage for one of the most destructive race riots in the history of the United States.  That conflagration, like too many others that came before and after it, was sparked by “ black ram is tupping your white ewe” rumors.

On the morning of 30 May 1921, 19-year-old shoeshine “boy” Dick Rowland rode an elevator in the Drexel Building with a white woman named Sarah Page.  You can guess what happened next:  Accounts of the incident changed from one telling to the next, each taking on a layer of lurid exaggeration spun from stereotypes about violent, priapic black men.  The next day, Tulsa police arrested Rowland and began an investigation.

The fears that shaped those re-tellings of the story found a platform in an incendiary article in  the Tulsa Tribune that sparked a confrontation between black and white mobs around the courthouse, where the sheriff and his men barricaded the top floor to protect Rowland. Shots were fired and the blacks, badly outnumbered, retreated to the nearby Greenwood district.

At the time of this conflict, the “Harlem Renaissance” was taking shape.  If Harlem was the Florence of Black America, the Greenwood District of Tulsa was ― as it was often called ― the Black Wall Street.  There was, perhaps, no greater concentration of African-American wealth than was found in the banks, hotels, restaurants, jewelry shops and other businesses in the area.  

The white mobs pursued the blacks into Greenwood, shooting at them and rampaging through homes and stores.   Tulsa’s police chief then deputized hundreds of white residents to descend upon the neighborhood commandeered gun shops to arm them.  He also commandeered private planes to drop bombs in the area.

It is no exaggeration to say that, twenty-four hours later, the Greenwood district had been wiped off the face of the earth.  Reports from the time said that 100 to 300 people were killed, but the exact death toll will probably never be known.  Bodies were bundled into trucks and shoveled into mass graves by the Arkansas River.  

The Greenwood district obliterated, the story of its destruction didn’t make it into history  books. I minored in history, but only learned of the Tulsa pogrom accidentally, when doing ― you guessed it ― a Google search on another topic.  Attention has come to it only during the past few years, as the lawsuits for reparations on behalf of the few remaining survivors have been filed.

One of those survivors is Olivia Hooker, 101 years old.  The next time you hear someone say that African Americans should just “get over it,” tell that person about Ms. Hooker. She earned a bachelor’s from Ohio State University, a Master’s ten years later from Columbia and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Rochester.  That, after becoming ― at age 6 ― one of the thousands of people left homeless from the massacre.  Oh, and she was the first African American woman to join the Coast Guard ― after the Navy refused her because of her race.

She is not seeking reparations for herself, she has said, as much as she is trying to ensure that the terrible events of Tulsa are not forgotten.  That is not surprising when you realize that during her life, she has been an educator (both of her parents were teachers) as well as a psychologist and advocate ― and that she joined the Coast Guard, she says, not because she was interested in a military career but simply to break down a barrier.

In other words, she wanted to achieve justice.  And that is what she still wants.

If the birth of a child can be someone’s chance at redemption, could it be that we are gifted with the very old to give us opportunities, however fleeting, to achieve justice?  If this is the case, people like Olivia Hooker are our last opportunities to do so, at least for those whose lives were destroyed by a racial pogrom in Tulsa in 1921.  And for those whose lives have been ended, or upended, by the tensions that have simmered and, at times, flared up during the near-century since those terrible days in Tulsa.


Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Bruce Gerencser