Memorial Service for Dolores Caskey/Sermon

Sermon by T. Scott Allen
Trinity Bethlehem – May 23, 2105

In the name of God who says “I am the Resurrection and the Life”   AMEN

It is not very often that one gets to be the preacher at the Burial Office of a woman as remarkable, complicated, intelligent and amazing as Dolores White Caskey. In fact, I have dreaded having to write the epitaph for a person who had the impact on me and her world that Dolores had because whatever I say I will most likely forget a detail, a good work, an amazing speech, a kind act, an important contribution of a life lived very well. 

And while my background is as a journalist, my occupation of the last 30 plus years has been as an Episcopal priest, so while my reporter instinct wants to report “the facts” and not miss one, my heart says that we all stand here this afternoon as witnesses of what a life lived with grace, gusto and yes, at times, guts, looks like.

 I don’t know when I first met Dolores. I expect it was sometime in the early Spring of 1989. I had just joined the Bishop’s Staff as Social Missioner and she served on the Jubilee Committee which was the name of the Diocesan Social Justice Committee at the time. Dolores and I took an instant like to one another for which to this day I am thankful. Dolores didn’t suffer fools gladly and I would never want to be on the “outs” with her. We disagreed on some occasions, but we both knew the other’s heart and couldn’t stay cross with one another very long. We knew we were acting out of the same love of the same Lord who redeemed us.

No matter where you knew Dolores I can say that all that she did emanated from a deep faith in a God who is manifested in self-giving love. This faith did not express itself in saccharine piety, but in incarnational acts of justice, truth, mercy and love. Her faith had a very real social expression for the poor, the marginalized, the unfairly treated and the helpless.

The lessons we just heard are most fitting for a saint such as Dolores.  “To everything a season and a purpose under heaven”.

She took everything in stride and even in defeat did not back down from her principles. She was a non-anxious presence when emotions were high and more smoke than light was being generated in any debate or discussion---she was part of our Church’s controversies. For her, everything did have its time and season, but truth, justice and mercy did not. Articulate, she didn’t shy away from eating your lunch when an important principle was at stake.

Dolores met her beloved husband, Jim, in the Air Force and they were both veterans and later will rightfully be laid to rest together in Arlington National Cemetery. As Jim told the story, Dolores worked in the office of a high ranking officer and she had come to his office on some official business where she asserted her rank with Jim’s secretary. Thinking Dolores had left the office, Jim made some smart comment about Dolores which she heard as she left the room and turned back on her heels and reminded Jim of who she was and whom she worked for! As Jim told it, his secretary was a shy, timid woman who one would have thought was a slight woman. Dolores would laugh at this story when Jim told it and said “Jim, your secretary was not this defenceless little person! She could have gone bear hunting with a switch!” This was just one of what I call “Dolores-isms”.

When speaking of a local politician a few years ago she said, “You ask him the time and he tells you how to build a watch!”Dolores was greatly committed to Northeast Ministry located in the Marvine-Pembroke village and she spoke one of my favorite stories about a time when drug dealing and use was an especially chronic problem on the streets of this housing project. Someone got the idea of a parade through the streets of Marvine-Pembroke to provide a counter-point to the drug dealers and support recovery and health for the residents. In order to send an anti-drug message to residents and the drug addicted of that area. Her co-board member was Victoria (Lala) Leach who was a member of the Nativity Cathedral. Lala had a yellow Cadillac convertible and Dolores and Lala rode in the parade in that car. Dolores laughed as she said, “I can’t imagine what the people thought of us in this parade.  Probably something like—“O look! Those two old ladies got off the stuff and now they have a Cadillac!”

Always well put together (I rarely remember her wearing pants in public—always a dress, jewelry and make-up—even when at the Soup Kitchen!), Dolores always had the Oasis of her weekly Friday hair appointment. The day she died I happened to arrive at Dolores’s room at Moravian Village Health Center 5 minutes after her passing. As I gazed upon her lifeless body, the chaplain whispered, “Isn’t it great that the nurses aide ran in and put lipstick on her?” And sure enough, her lips were bright pink! It was great, and I can imagine Dolores somehow beholding the scene and finding great humor in it, but also a great corporal act of mercy in that act!

Dolores was a good Democrat as well. And it was because of Dolores’s advocacy with me that I switched my primary vote from Hillary Clinton to Barak Obama. We both loved John Stewart and would call each other the morning after a show and laugh about his report, but only momentarily as the issues he addressed were ones that had substance and legs. 

I missed Dolores this past Tuesday when I was faced with my ballot in the primary. I counted on Dolores to give me good names to vote for in local elections and would always take (what I called) “Dolores’s List” (not to be confused with Emily’s List) into the polls on more than one occasion. As the first and scandalously only (to this day, by the way) woman President of Bethlehem City Council (ladies, you have some work to do!). Dolores once was quoted as telling the press, “Well, Bethlehem may be the Christmas City, but city council is NOT Santa Claus!”

Dolores was parsimonious. She didn’t believe that throwing lots of money at a problem necessarily solved it. She believed in balanced budgets, living within your means, and when you spend money, it had to count to relieve misery in people’s lives. This did not mean she was not generous. She supported people, causes and candidates with cash. Real money. And was generous in her support of causes she believed in and thought made a difference.

I once was Dolores and Jim’s chauffer to a rally for presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry at Allentown Fair Grounds and they would not let Jim in with his ever present little pocket knife, which I recall dutifully taking back to my car and re-joining them after we were disarmed.

I have to tell you, I will miss that “Greatest Generation” commitment to integrity in all aspects of life. I mourn the passing of that generation as I believe they were one of extreme integrity, fairness, not afraid of uphill battles and self-giving of themselves for people, movements and projects that enhanced fairness and community. They were biased toward the underdog. We Baby Boomers are poor imitators of their example.

Dolores had the tenacity of a journalist when seeking information and had an eye and a memory for important and often missed detail. She served as an advisor to diocesan publications and served many years as the Consumer Reporter at the Globe-Times in Bethlehem. One apocryphal story about that job––when she first arrived at the Globe-Times she pretended that she couldn’t type in order to be assigned a secretary to do it! 

Things I recall Dolores loved:

• Chocolate and sweets of any kind, I always took them a cut of my Christmas baking in her latter years.

• Animals—dogs, cats, squirrels, even a mouse that took up residence in a storage closet off of their patio in their Moravian Village apartment and refused to let the management know of this rodent’s presence. She delighted in watching him and put nuts and seeds out for him. She also fed birds. I made sure my miniature schnauzer, Martini, visited Dolores and Jim often—her last visit with Dolores was near Christmas Eve of last year.

• She loved the beach and seashore and after Jim died got her aide to drive her there. That may have been her last visit.

• She loved breakfast at Jenny’s Luncheonette before it was razed to make way for a new access to the Hill-To-Hill bridge—and tipped her waitresses handsomely.

• She loved the poor, the underdog, the rejected for no fault of their own and anyone being given a raw deal by government, church or social structures.

• She loved the 1928 Prayer Book AND the 1979 revision and both were near her whenever I visited. She liked the confession in Morning Prayer, and the Prayer for Humble Access. She prayed.

She had her dislikes as well:

• She disliked hypocrisy, privilege which blinded to human need. Using the phrase “greedy geezers” to describe some of her peer’s attitude toward discounts, Social Security, Medicare and other benefits.

• She disliked using more medical care than she thought was warranted for people “living on an expired warranty” as she and Jim would say.

(I am sure you can share others with me later in the parish hall as there are hundreds of ways she impacted and inspired all of us)

 So what is the take away for us that she leaves behind? What is it that is for us in this room this afternoon? 

I believe one of the take aways is that Christian faith can take us to places we never thought we’d be. It can put us in partnership with people very different from us. We are convicted by the witness of her life that our actions should reflect our commitments. Her work for anti-racism is exemplary, she served on the first HIV-AIDS Task Force of the Diocese in the early 90’s and served on a board to develop a personal care home for persons living with HIV-AIDS. Before a plethora of Spanish Speaking interpreters, she would be the middle person to translate for the courts when a Spanish speaking defendant appeared before a Northampton County judge.

There are no outcasts, save the well-funded and privileged who have hard hearts toward the perceived outcast. But even they can repent and be welcomed back.

She saw the blessedness in all of the things we try mightily to insulate ourselves from—mourning, being peacemakers, poverty of life and spirit, mercy, hungering for justice and an even playing field; and putting ourselves on the line for it (even when it means rejection and vilification).

She taught me how to age. To never disengage from life and justice seeking, no matter what your age or physical capability. Always get the news and talk about it!

I hope we can all take comfort and challenge in the life Dolores exemplified. And Michael, David, Robert, Mimi,  you and your offspring can look to her as an example for your own lives and be inspired by how she inspired many of us!

Scott Holland a 19th Century Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University wrote the following which I think a fitting last word today, and one I know Dolores would probably affirm:

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched and unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is dath but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind just because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well.  All is well.

Dolores, my good friend, you have finished the race, you have competed very well. And I am certain that you will receive the crown of glory reserved just for you! 

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!

[The Rev. T. Scott Allen is rector of St. Andrew's Allentown.]

 


Two Paths: Privilege and Internalized Oppression

By Scott Allen

February is Black History month and we have just observed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a national holiday. But the news headlines betray that the state of race relations in this country is anything but harmonious. As one of the certified diocesan trainers (along with The Rev. Trula Hollywood) for Seeing the Face of God in Christ and One Another (the General Convention’s recommended anti-racism training program for the Episcopal Church) I heard a helpful thing at our last Province Three Anti-Racism Committee meeting in Martinsburg, WV.

One of our leaders said that the challenged path for a white person is understanding White Privilege and for persons of color it was Internalized Oppression. Both People of Color and European-Americans have a learning curve on these topics.

White Privilege
This is the social construct and phenomenon of a majority who understood their values and lifestyles to be normative and for whom government, education, economic and social structures were patterned. You are born into it. It is never discussed or noticed. You don’t have to know about it. It doesn’t have to be “practiced” because just doing and thinking “normal” things taught to you by family, church and school perpetuated and reinforced it. It is virtually invisible by those who benefit from it.

It’s my own sense of privilege that perceives people of color as “whining” when they fear their teenagers will be out in the car and stopped by police or feel they are often “watched” closer than others in a department store. I have never had either one of those experiences. I don’t have to worry that people will judge my whole racial group by how I conduct myself—what I eat, how I dress, how I dance, how I talk, what car I drive, what house I live in or what I buy at the grocery store just to name a few.

A few years ago, Peggy McIntosh wrote a book on it, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” In it she simply puts the reason behind the book “…as a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something which puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege which puts me at an advantage.” You see, someone who does not feel they are necessarily racist, can contribute to the system that oppresses by not contemplating this about their life and personal history.

For most of us of Western European extraction it is invisible and seemingly nonsensical. In fact we get angry when someone suggests that we were given anything. We earned what we have by hard work! Of course you did! You worked long hours, spent time in educational institutions, sacrificed to achieve what you have. Much like a football team you had to work and strive for the end zone. BUT what is not understood is that you got the ball on the opponents 40 yard line, while our brothers and sisters of other races got the ball on their own 5. This is how racism gets perpetuated – keeping white people suspicious of other races and indifferent to their indictments of discrimination and disadvantage. It’s what forms a perception that people of color (depending on the race) are more apt to be drug dealers, rapists, violent, better at math, more primitive, not as smart, more fit for manual labor, etc. At the same time it is encouraging white people to not examine social structures which may have given them early and decisive advantage in the game.

Tim Wise (a white guy) has some good talks on YouTube if you want to have a more thorough historical introduction to this social construct.

Internalized Oppression
This is a phenomenon that affects any members of a group which is not in the dominant power position. It has an effect on women, LGBT people, youth, poor people and people of color. When people are targeted, discriminated against, or oppressed over a period of time, they often internalize (believe and make part of their self-image – their internal view of themselves) the myths and misinformation that society communicates to them about their group. It is the message taught to these groups through education, media, advertising, religious teaching and other ways that formative messages come to us in our development which agrees with the dominant culture’s stereotype and description of them.

It also feeds into white privilege by suggesting that the person in dominance is better, smarter, wealthier, more clever, more dangerous socially, and more powerful as a human being. And the behavior of acquiescence follows – just keep your head down, don’t challenge the assumptions and attitudes of the dominant group. “Uppity” is often used by a dominant culture to describe people of an oppressed group who refuse to buy into the narrative of the dominant social culture about them. In fact the privilege of the dominant group becomes invisible to the oppressed as well when oppression has been fully internalized. Media have portrayed this very well in recent movies like “The Help” and “The Long Walk Home.”

Internalized Oppression makes the oppressed agents of their own oppression in a way. They feel and act in ways that give way to the oppressive system. They are taught to “be good” in their roles, not to rock the boat and defer to the leader who is in the dominant group. Part of toxicity of this is that the oppressed person believes what is said about them by the dominant culture is somewhat true. They can find an example of every bad description in their own group somewhere – the stereotypes have power because in some instances there is a grain of truth in some of it – such as black people like watermelon. Never mind that white people love watermelon too. There are some black people who don’t like watermelon just as there are white people with same distaste for it. Yet, internalized oppression may make a person of color think twice about getting it on the salad bar or buying a whole one in a grocery store with whites present. This is a small insignificant example in some ways, but the impact on just this small thing is the kind of stuff internalized oppression makes the oppressed consider at every move.

Internalized oppression also casts a heavy burden on the person of color as they perceive that their whole racial group will be judged by white people through their actions. As an American I feel some of this while travelling abroad. Do the nationals of the country I visit judge me by past experiences with Americans or does my behavior color how they will treat the next American? Some Americans seem not to care either way which also produces bad results. Having spent part of my growing up years in Bombay (now Mumbai) India, I saw this at varying levels from white people who lived there. Being respectful in all incidences is always a good rule to follow…

This is but a short introduction to these ideas with which must all contend. But in this time of year is critical for us to consider and discuss when approaching race relations in our society.

[The Rev. T. Scott Allen is rector of St. Andrew's Allentown/Bethlehem and a member of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Bethlehem.]

 

           

 

           

 

 

 

 


Living Islam – Lenten program at St. Andrew's Allentown

1900 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Allentown, PA  18109
South of Catasauqua Rd. between Allentown and Bethlehem
See www.standrewsbethlehem.org for more information.

Join us Tuesday evenings in Lent in the Parish Hall for a supper of soup, bread, and salad. Participants will share hosting the supper.
March 15 – April 12
6:30-7:00 Light Supper
7:00-8:00 Study of Islam based the popular National Public Radio program, “Krista Tippett on Being.”

Supper reservations are suggested: Please call 610-865-3603

The Rev. T. Scott Allen, Rector at St. Andrew’s, will lead the discussion.

Hear the voices and the stories that bring the faith of 1.5 billion people to life. Learn more about the rich tradition and culture of Islam and what it means to be Muslim in America today. Hear Muslim women talk about their roles. Examine the effects of 9/11 on America’s views of Islam. Understand the observance and meaning of Ramadan. Listen to a Palestinian and a Jew who have risen above personal tragedy to join together in an effort to create peace.  

Jean Evans
Vestry, Senior Warden


"An Evening with Margie and Dave" Benefit Concert

[From Fr. Scott Allen]

“An Evening with Margie and Dave”
 
Recording artists Margie DeRosso and David Lang will perform their original Christmas songs in addition to
your favorite holiday standards.
 
Saturday December 4th, at 4:00pm.
In the sanctuary of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
1900 Pennsylvania Ave., Bethlehem, PA
 
A “Meet and greet” with the artists will follow the concert in the church’s Social Hall.
Refreshments will be served.
 
All proceeds benefit the Pennsylvania Avenue Interfaith Food Pantry
 
Admission is $5.00 with a non-perishable food item donation at the door. Please call Craig @ 484-892-1589 for details.
 
This Concert is being sponsored in part by:
Giant Food Markets
Weis food Markets
Michael Thomas Floral Design Studio


St. Andrew's, Allentown/Bethlehem Dinner Benefit

[From Fr. Scott Allen]

An evening of Pre-Holiday Good Spirits at Weaversville Inn to Benefit St. Andrew's Church December 18.

The Evening Includes, but is not limited to:
Live music in the bar area for you enjoyment. Very special guest bartenders, our own Senior Warden Liza Holzinger, and the Minister of Spirits Scott Allen. Give away surprises. All gratuities generated from the bar, and 10% of the dining proceeds will go to support St. Andrew's mission's andministries. Reservations for dinner are suggested.

Place:     The Weaversville Inn
Address:     6916 Weaversville Rd.
                     Northampton, PA 18067
 
Tel. #:    610-502-9881
Time:     6-9 pm
Date:     Saturday December 18
 
Directions:  From the Airport; Airport Rd. North to left onto Schoenersville Rd. North, go past Gregory's, the roadturns into Weaversville Rd. at this point. Continue up the windy Rd. for about 2 miles, the Inn is on the right. If you get to a light you have gone to far.


Emergency Shelter Coordinator sought

[From Scott Allen]

I just received this notice from The Bethlehem Hospitality Network which houses the homeless during the cold winter months Dec.-March in parish halls and is an ecumenical response to homeless in the Lehigh Valley.  7+ congregations open their doors each week to house the homeless in the parish halls of their churches. Ecumenical  in nature,  the Network represents Episcopal, Moravian, Lutheran, UCC, Unitarian and Independant congregations.   A coordinator is needed to help facilitate this effort.  Through generous grants from the Bethlehem Area Moravians and The New Hope Campaign we have the funds to hire a part time coordinator for this sheltering season. The Ministry Description is posted below with application procedures.  Please let anyone in your congregations know of this part-time employment opportunity.
 
Thanks,
 
Scott Allen
St. Andrew's Allentown/Bethlehem
 
 
General Job Description: Under the direction of the Steering Committee for the Emergency Shelter, the Emergency Shelter Coordinator is responsible for facilitating the overall daily functioning and communication of the program. 

Major Job Duties:
•Coordinate resources across sites, i.e., sleeping bags, etc.
•Create a list of facilities, locations, times facilities open and close doors
•Help Site Coordinators manage volunteers
•Become a familiar presence at each site
•Communication
•Facilitate communications between sites
    •All information pertaining to the Emergency Shelter program   •Issues regarding shelter guests   •Communicate issues of program suitability with shelter guests   •Enforce decisions made by steering committee   •Keep a log of issues from each site   •Coordinate facilities during snow emergencies   •Attend monthly mandatory shelter staff meetings and communicate with the Steering Committee about the activities and needs of the shelters
•Oversee working committees
•Create list of emergency contacts
•If necessary, coordinate transportation of clients to sites

Qualifications:
•Knowledge of issues relating to homelessness
•Prefer 2 years experience in social services, with preference given to volunteer management experience
•Excellent written & oral communication skills
•Ability to make quick, difficult decisions
•Ability to multi-task
•Strong organizational skills and attention to detail
•Positive attitude, compassionate
•Ability to both take direction and to work autonomously when necessary
•The ability to respond to requests for information via phone, mail, and e-mail
•Ability and willingness to work as a team member and support the mission and goals of the Emergency Shelter Steering Committee
•Must be at least 21 years of age

Other: Work out of home.  Cell phone and travel expenses included in salary.  This position requires the candidate to file a 1099 and pay your own taxes.

Hours: 20-30 hours per week, beginning December 1, 2010 and lasting through April 7, 2011. Hours will be flexible based on needs of volunteers.

Compensation: Contracted Hourly Rate $25/hour

If this job is of interest to you, please email your resume to Terri Boyd @ TBoyd4@its.jnj.com


Scott Allen at the WDIY controls

Scott Allen at WDIY If you tune into All Things Considered on WDIY 88.1, public radio in the Lehigh Valley, on Tuesdays, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., you will hear Diocese of Bethlehem Episcopal priest T. Scott Allen during the breaks. Scott chooses the local news to read "from a stack of stories other folks have written and prepared. I make the decision which ones I want to read and try and get a spread of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton/Phillipsburg news since our listeners are primarily in those towns."

DIY stands for "Do it yourself." Scott has been a volunteer for nearly three years. He quips about being "both a volunteer and an on air host---like a priest who is also a deacon."

Scott is rector of St. Andrew's Allentown/Bethlehem and serves on several diocesan committees.

Folks who are out of radio range can tune in on their computers here, www.wdiy.org.
 
"The NPR satellite feed has scheduled breaks when I play local adverts and give news, weather, traffic and time," Scott says. "My favorite traffic report was last Spring when I had to tell folks that cows who had broken through their fence were lounging on 309 and causing a traffic back up. It was hard not to laugh while reporting that."