by Leo Frade
My beloved in Christ let me begin this homily by alerting you that the first part could upset some of you and confuse others; still others may wonder “What in the world is our bishop talking about?” The second part of what I have to say, hopefully will clarify this and also the reason I am preaching about this topic on Trinity Sunday. So please be patient with me as you hear or read what I am about to say.
Let me start by reminding you that throughout the history of the Church we have heard the voices of those alerting us to the dangers that we face every time we abandon the practices of the past and exchange them for innovative and misguided modernistic ideas that have led us through the wrong path.
In the Church and in our nation it is imperative to protect those cherished traditions, practices and orthodoxy of the past.
In yesteryears, our ancestors held fast to the thoughts of the past and their conscience caused them to oppose any progressive and modernistic ideas that a new age was bringing. The integration of the races, the use of birth control, allowing divorce persons to remarry and also to receive communion, allowing children to receive communion, permitting girls to serve as acolytes on the altar and more recently their firm opposition to the ordination of women and the inclusion of gays and lesbians as ordained deacons, priests and bishops in our Church.
But it seems that we have missed one of these trusted beliefs of the past and it is left to me to raise my voice and to warn you in order that we may protect our Church and society from a dangerous practice that is even now, lurking in our midst.
By now you may be wondering what I am talking about? What is precisely the danger that we are facing?
That, my dearly beloved is the danger of Mancinism. Yes, Mancinism or Sinistralism, as others prefer to call this abnormality.
Please don’t laugh or regard this danger as unimportant once you hear the common way we called those who practice Mancinism. Unfortunately, we have abandoned the warnings from our ancestors that protected themselves and did their utmost to cure this affliction of persons that were suffering. Unfortunately, the liberal conspiracy of modernism has blinded us to the danger of Mancinism.
I am referring to those “left-handed” persons in our midst. Those who are older may remember how people afflicted with this abnormality were excluded and action was taken immediately as a teacher in school or a parent noticed that a child had this tendency.
It seems that we have been blinded by faulty scientific beliefs by those that teach evolution and those that claim that Global Warming is affecting the weather patterns our planet.
It was hard for me as a student in Elementary School to understand why my left-handed classmates insisted on writing with their left hand instead of using their right hand like everyone else in my school.
I didn’t believe for a moment that they were born like this as they claimed and that they didn’t have a choice.
Well, in my days in Elementary School the mancinists were punished for their behavior and I observed how the teacher tried to cure them by tying their left arm to their side in order for them not to use the wrong hand. I believe that today there could be a cure for this abnormality but unfortunately due to the liberal conspiracy the medical profession refuses to categorize mancinism as an abnormality.
Are you aware that the word “sinister” derives from the Latin word “sinistra” that means left-handed or unlucky?
Our wise ancestors referred to Black magic as the left handed way and described being left-handed as a sign of the devil.
If you are one of those misguided persons that believe that it doesn’t matter if you are left handed or right handed tell me why both the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed say that Jesus is sitting at the Right Hand of the Father and not at the left hand?
The Gospel according to St. Matthew states clearly that Jesus will separate the good to the right and the evil to the left. Let me quote Matthew 25:41 when Jesus clearly states: “Then he will say to those at his left- hand: You that are accursed depart from me into the fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
I have some ideas that could help to prevent the spread of Mancinism in our church and society?
First, let us pass laws excluding teachers, Boy Scout leaders, and clergy that are afflicted by Mancinism from having contact with our youngsters. Let’s make sure that we don’t have to rent housing to them. Why?
Because they can influence and teach our children to write with their left hand. From ancient days we know that being left- handed is a learned behavior and not something that you are born with. God doesn’t create people to suffer this handicap and force them to write with the wrong hand.
Second, we must create laws that prevent left-handed people from adopting children that will be exposed to this abomination and be influenced to learn that behavior. Were you aware that every August 13 the Mancinists have a “Left-Handed Pride Parade” where they flaunt their devious practice?
To justify their wrong path they claim that 10% of all the population of the world is left- handed and they also like to boast that many artists, mathematicians, musicians, architects and Nobel Peace Prize Winners are and were also left handed. Mancinists brag of their sick behavior by listing several Presidents of our country like Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barak Obama as left-handed. That will explain the sad situation of Washington at present. I say to them that George Washington was right handed and that is good enough for me!
Another important reason of why I am raising this concern today is also to alert the Bishops and Deputies of our upcoming 77th General Convention next month in Indianapolis to be careful of this danger that afflicts our Church. Bishops need to be careful not to consent to the election of any left-handed bishop and also the Deputies have to be sure to exclude any left-handed candidate from being elected as President and Vice-President of the House of Deputies.
If any of these things do occur they will surely become a scandal for our beloved Church and people will say that our church welcomes left handed people into our midst.
OK! Have you had enough already? At this point, you know that what I have said was weird or maybe you began to wonder that after 28 years serving as a bishop in the Episcopal Church I finally flipped out.
I started this homily by saying that I wanted to warn you of a great danger that our church and society is facing. That danger is bigotry and intolerance. No one can deny that the Church throughout its history has been notorious for excluding and persecuting different types of people because they were different.
We have also have managed to reject new ideas that dared to challenge the accepted understanding of the past.
One notorious example is that in the second half of the past Century the Roman Church finally admitted that Galileo was right and that the earth was not the center of the universe and also the church had to admit that they were wrong and that the sun doesn’t orbit around the earth.
Sadly, today church and society manages to put down persons because they have the wrong skin color or because of their nationality, sex or sexual orientation.
I am old enough to have witnessed how well intentioned teachers punished my left handed classmates and how we used to make fun of them for what we thought was weird. I apologize to all the left handed here, including the Dean of Trinity Cathedral who suffers this affliction.
Are you able to understand now why gays and lesbians have a hard time with the church in general? Who wants to come to church to be demonized, excluded and condemned to eternal damnation for being the way that they were created. The same God that created Abraham, Sarah and Hagar; Isaac and Rebekah; Jacob, Leah and Rachel is the God that created Jonathan and David.
Unfortunately today gays and lesbians of our society continue being demonized as we ignore, and refuse to give credence to copious scientific data pointing to the fact that this is not a learned behavior but a trait we are born with like heterosexuality. We don’t learn to be heterosexual and the majority of creation is born with that tendency. Unfortunately it seems that especially the church can’t escape this ancient taboo of considering homosexuality as an abnormality. Like left-handed people they have been created different from the majority of the people of this planet but they have been created by the same God that created all of us.
There is already enough scientific proof that indicates that their sexual preference is not something that they do by choice the same way that being left-handed is not something that people choose. You are born that way.
Love is a splendorous thing for both heterosexuals and homosexuals. For me, one of the dangers that we face as a church is when selected Bible verses are used out of context to demonize others. The real abomination lies in using the Bible to justify homophobia much in the same way that some still use selected passages from the Bible to justify slavery, racial discrimination, xenophobia and misogynist ideas. What better time than today, Trinity Sunday, to be reminded that God and all of God’s creation is much larger than our limited imagination? We tend to place people and things in our limited mental boxes either to control them or to explain that any deviation from heterosexuality is sinful.
I still remember one of my theology classes in seminary when the professor asked us to define what God was. He wrote on the blackboard just these words: God is….. and then went around the class asking us to give a definition to complete that sentence. He filled the blackboard with wonderful definitions that we gave trying to define Almighty God. When all had contributed, he reminded us that when we think we have defined God and believe that our finite minds were able to come up with a definition of the infinite then whatever definition we come up with will surely not be God. We simply cannot put God in a human “mental box” and make God in our image and then put words in His mouth to condemn others by using our Sacred Scriptures.
Are you able to give a reasonable explanation of why God bothered to come up with so many different types of flowers with so many different colors? Why one person’s pigmentation is black and another person is white, or brown or yellow or whatever shade or color? Why are my eyes green and my daughter’s eyes blue and my son eyes are brown? Why are you taller or shorter than me, or perhaps even left-handed? Why are some persons born with an attraction to the opposite sex and others happen to be attracted to persons of the same gender? Why do we all fall in love with another person?
I am sure that one day our scientists will have a definite explanation for this wonderful diversity in our world. I personally hope that God will grant me an audience in eternity and explain why He created us in so many different ways. I will ask other things too, like why some people eat all they want and stay slim and why just by smelling food, I gain weight!
The Holy Trinity should be our guide to live in harmony, as one, regardless of the obvious differences that we may have and further, to seek unity in our diversity. We can explain what the Trinity “is not” but any finite explanation of what it “is” will fall short to the reality of what God really “is.”
In closing this homily, remember what our Lord God said to the Prophet Samuel as he went around to choose and anoint a new leader for Israel. “Do not look on appearance or on the height of his stature….for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7).
I say “Amen” to that and I pray that the Holy Trinity bless all of God’s creation without exception and allow us to live in harmony regardless of our differences.
The Rt Rev. Leopold Frade is the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Southeast Florida. From a sermon preach on Trinity Sunday, June 3, at Trinity Cathedral, Miami FL. Shared with permission