Thursday, August 30, 2012

My career as a telephone operator, Christianity and Condoleezza Rice

I have revised the wording in this posting. [1]

I was a telephone operator a very long time ago, when operators sat in front of a large board with lights and plugged into a place below the lights before they said “Operator.” And yes, this is about me, but also about Christianity, politics and intelligence. I will be meandering a bit. I have been watching the Republican convention and watching any political convention brings back all kinds of memories, because I was an operator during John Kennedy’s campaign and election.

The night of the election I worked graveyard shift, something I liked doing because it was slow and a supervisor wasn’t always plugged into the board to see how we were doing. A man answered my “Operator” with, “I’m a Catholic and I voted for Kennedy, will you still take my call?” Laughing, I said I wasn’t sure—but then of course I did. There had been an earlier time, in the daytime, during the campaign when I took another interesting call. It was Frank Sinatra calling John Kennedy. (Remember this was in Sacramento.) I whispered to the two operators on either side of me who was calling who.

Now you need to know that it was possible to listen to the call if you wanted to risk a $10, 000 fine and jail. As a Christian and a non-risk taker I wasn’t about to listen in. But the operators on each side of me did. All they said afterwards was, “I thought we lived in a democracy.” Now that will feed a lot of conspiracy theories, something I totally despise. And there were other calls of interest, one I created myself.

One lazy Sunday afternoon, working after going to church, I plugged into a light and instead of saying “Operator,” I said, “Jesus.” The poor customer thought I was cursing at her. I had to explain very quickly that I had been thinking about the sermon at church that morning and because of it thinking about Jesus. She was very relieved, but this brings me to Christianity, the convention and yes Condoleezza Rice.

I am a Democrat who usually, anymore, votes Republican because I am very pro life and against the redefinition of marriage. And I have to say that after listening to most of the speeches at the convention, I thought that too many of them were not as detailed and as positive toward the future as they should have been.They could only say what Obama was doing wrong without any words about what would solve the problems. And some of their words of criticism were generally said in a joking manner and without any real content. Foreign policy was never touched on, including trade agreements with other nations. And except for Rice, not until the last night would our educational problems be explored.

 However, Rice’s speech was over the top with proper form, intelligence and wisdom. And she ended with a description of her childhood in the South as an African American, which included not being allowed to sit at the Woolworth’s lunch counters, yet having parents who dreamed large dreams for her. And this leads me to the Presbyterian part of my posting.

Rice is a Presbyterian. She also, as most people know, was the Secretary of State as well as a professor of political Science at Stanford University. As I listened to her speech my absolute disbelief returned. About what? That both the Presbyterian Women and the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns pretends that she doesn’t exist. If they make lists of Presbyterian women who have accomplished a great deal with their lives and vocations, her name is always missing. If they publish issues of Horizons which cover subjects she could address, her name is always missing. In fact the last Horizons was on war and peace and two service men had articles in the magazine, but not Rice.

So why is such an accomplished woman ignored by the official women’s groups in the PCUSA? The answer is, although we are supposedly a diverse denomination, we are not really diverse when it comes to ideology, conservatism or orthodox theology. We are intolerant of women and African Americans when they disagree with “our” political and theological views. Condoleezza Rice, despite the fact that she is a woman and African American, is still not allowed to sit at the lunch counter of the women’s organizations in the PCUSA.

While I don't agree with all that Rice states, I nevertheless think her speech is worth listening too if for no other reason than the fact that she is a Presbyterian woman who has accomplished much.

[1] I apologize for using the word stupid or calling the speeches stupid. There are better ways of explaining my thoughts.


Victor Styrsky said...

Her story of growing up and becoming Secretary of State made my eyes tear. I appreciate much about her, most of her speech, and vote on the Republican side of the ticket for the same reasons as you do, including the hope of a clearer understanding concerning Israel and those nations desiring her destruction, through "political" or military might.

Anonymous said...

"Condoleezza Rice, despite the fact that she is a woman and African American, is still not allowed to sit at the lunch counter of the women’s organizations in the PCUSA."

Brilliant observation! So true, and so very sad.

Jim Berkley
Roslyn, WA

Pete Larson said...

Good blog, Viola. It remineds me of what Clarence Thomas said when he was being interrogated by the Senate confirmation committee and his character was being systematically destroyed: "This is a high-tech lynching for an uppity (black)." Except that he didn't use the word "black." Dem
ocrats have nothing but hatred and contempt for minority folks who don't agree with them. Your tale about working for the phone company gives new meaning to the words, "party line."

Quotidian Grace said...

A couple of years ago Condoleeza Rice spoke at our church (MDPC in Houston) about her faith and the sanctuary was packed to overflowing with congregation and community members. It was a wonderful evening. PCUSA women's organizations are run by a progressive cabal who would never acknowledge, invite or honor a prominent conservative/evangelical women regardless of her "diversity." But there's no reason to wait on them or the denomination to do so yourself!

Chas Jay said...

Viola, thank you so very much for posting her speech. It was powerful with much wisdom. As a white conservative from the South, I also enjoyed seeing the many elected minorities that spoke, especially after I read the Harold Meyerson article from the Pittsburgh Gazette "The Old South Rises Again: White Voters in the GOP Want Their Country Back."

Anonymous said...

I thought Rice and Rubio gave the best speeches that I heard among the "A-listers."

John Erthein
DeFuniak Springs, FL

Dave Moody said...

I love hearing about your life Vi. Frank Sinatra calling for JFK! Now that is just plain cool.

Thanks again for all you do. Greet Mark Twain for me.

grace & peace,

Viola Larson said...

Mark Twain just went to bed and I should too. Tomorrow is a good day, not only the Lord's Day but our 51 anniversary.

Grace & peace to you too. And to everyone else.

Greg Scandlen said...

Just in terms of speech craft, Rice was far and away the best -- perhaps because her father was a preacher. A good speaker should vary the tone and tempo, perhaps starting off conversationally, dropping to a whisper and building to a climax. No one else did this, even Huckabee. Rice did it to a tee, repeating certain words for emphasis, pausing in the middle of a sentence, then running a couple of sentences together. I think the problem is too much reliance on reading from teleprompters.

Greg Scandlen
Waynesboro, PA