Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

"I am by religion like everything else. I think there is more in acting than in talking. I had an uncle who said when one of his neighbors got religion strong on Sunday, he was going to lock his smokehouse on Monday. I think he was right from the little I have observed." (Harry Truman, from a letter to Bess Wallace, February 7, 1911. Papers Relating to Family, Business, and Personal Affairs at the Truman Library, Independence, Missouri.)

Anyone who knows me knows that one of the five people I want to meet in Heaven is Harry Truman. I have been fascinated with him since childhood, because he was simply "like us." As a child, I always imagined Presidents as having perfect "oratory voices." The first time I watched a film in school (yes, I predate video; we watched 16mm films in school!) where I actually heard Truman speak, I was captivated. He sounded just like any of my male relatives or like any "down home" person from rural northern Missouri.

As I grew older, the more I learned about him, the more I admired him. Harry taught me a lot about life--about not being afraid to be the "little guy", about doing what's right when everyone thinks you're a fool, and about speaking plainly, even if it is in a somewhat graphic, rough, and illustrative way. (My friends and relatives would tell you Harry and I share a common vocabulary.)

Now, Harry called himself a "lightfoot Baptist", but the more I've learned about him the more I've come to believe that the Episcopalian way of thinking permeated his religious beliefs. Bess was an Episcopalian, and Harry paid a lot of attention to what "the Boss" (his name for Bess) had to say. When Harry spoke publicly about religion, it seems to me that he understood just the right amount of "positive vagueness", which is certainly quasi-Episcopalian, such as this 1949 radio address on the program "Religion in American Life."

I'm guessing that the only thing Harry could not handle, though, was the "top-down" structure of TEC, all those bishops and such were just too hierarchical for his populist look at the world. He often pointed to the "ground up" structure of the Baptist church. When Harry died, and was buried at the Truman Library, he had an Episcopalian burial.

Yes, Harry called himself a Baptist, but he thought a lot like an Episcopalian and he was buried like one. As much as I admire Harry, it's nice to know we will be sent off in the same way (although I am in no rush for my sendoff!)



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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