If you're still in the mood to celebrate liberty during the month of July, you have another chance today, the anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention. A group of women came together in Seneca Falls, New York to talk about ideas that would have seemed ludicrous to the larger population: that women should be allowed to vote, that women should work for pay that they could keep (not their husbands), that women should own property.
Those of you who are astute observers of history will note that even though the women at that conference called for voting rights, women would not be able to exercise their right to vote until 1920, long after black men were enfranchised. And yes, I am painfully aware that even though we have the right to vote, we may be intimidated enough to stay home or we may go out to vote, only to realize that our votes have never been counted.
What I love about this country is our long arc towards justice. We haven't always gotten it right. It's interesting to read the Declaration of Independence and to realize how many of those signers were wealthy white men. I'm always interested in the risks that those powerful, wealthy white men were willing to take to create the world that they envisioned, a world that was more in line with their values. Think about our current time and tell me how many wealthy, powerful folks are doing the same.
Too few of us live by the Scout motto: "Leave the campsite better than you found it." The Seneca Falls women did.
I've written a piece for the Living Lutheran site which explores the far-reaching implications of this historic meeting. Go here to read it.
Here are some quotes to whet your appetite:
"I could make the argument that it's historical events like Seneca Falls that set us on the road toward expanded pulpits, although it would be many more years after women started exercising their right to vote (in 1920) before we'd see women in Protestant pulpits. The major exception would be the Pentecostal churches."
"What I find most exciting about the various human rights movements of the past few centuries is how the idea of rights for one group expands to affect other disenfranchised groups."
"Let us celebrate Seneca Falls. Let us celebrate those few brave women who dared to dream of a more inclusive world. Let us offer prayers of gratitude for those women and for human rights workers everywhere."
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