Kenneth Samuel: Honoring Our Fore-Parents . . . And Remembering Their Sins

"When our fathers and mothers were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the Red Sea." - Psalm 106:7 

There is a certain sacredness that some people attach to antiquity. Many believe that just about any kind of well-established historicity deserves to be recognized and respected by all. 

This is the mindset that prompts the governor and the majority of legislators in my home state of South Carolina to remain adamant in their refusal to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds. "The Confederate flag is a vital part of South Carolina history," they say. 

It is also the mindset that encourages Washington Redskins owner, Dan Snyder, to refuse to acknowledge the name "redskin" as a racial slur against Native Americans. In response to a letter from 49 U.S. Senators urging a name change, Redskins president Bruce Allen said that the Redskins name has been in place for over 80 years and it has always been respectful of Native Americans. 

It's one thing to honor the historical legacies of our fore-parents. It's quite another to honor the historical legacies of our fore-parents in such a way that their moral sins and ethical transgressions are white-washed, overlooked and ignored. 

The Psalmist is under no illusions regarding the past sins of Israel. If the Psalmist's generation is to move past those sins, it cannot redact history and pretend that they never existed. 

All of our individual and collective histories are rich, but none of them is pristine or perfect. Until we face fully all the self-contradictions of our fore-parents, we will never gain a clear view of ourselves. 


God, let honesty always accompany our homage. Amen.

From UCC's StillSpeaking Devotionals. Visit