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Ways of the World

Carol Stone, business economist & active Episcopalian, brings you "Ways of the World". Exploring business & consumers & stewardship, we'll discuss everyday issues: kids & finances, gas prices, & some larger issues: what if foreigners start dumping our debt? And so on. We can provide answers & seek out sources for others. We'll talk about current events & perhaps get different perspectives from what the media says. Write to Carol. Let her know what's important to you:

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Gerald Ford

Mother Crafton and I exchanged e-mails during last week as we learned of Gerald Ford's passing. We described to each other tears we had shed in 1974, she when Nixon resigned, I when Ford took office. "It is thunderous when the mighty fall, no matter who they are," she wrote about Nixon. I remember sitting in an office among colleagues, watching on a tiny TV with tears rolling down my cheeks as Ford recited the oath. Indeed, as he said that day, "the U.S. Constitution works".

In these recent days, I learned several new things about Mr. Ford which raised my interest in and my esteem for him. A statement from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori the day after he died described what active Episcopalians the Fords are. If you watched Tuesday's Burial Office at the National Cathedral, you saw his parish priest from Palm Desert, the Rev. Robert Certain, give the homily and pronounce the Commendation. The actual burial Wednesday was from Grace Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Jerry and Betty were married in 1948. He was a particular supporter, Bishop Katharine told us, of Episcopal Relief and Development, and as Fr. Certain explained Tuesday, Ford stayed in touch with Church affairs, just last summer urging Fr. Certain to assist with maintaining unity among Episcopalians in the midst of our current strife.

I learned, too, that one of the pieces of legislation enacted during Ford's Presidency was the law permitting women to attend the Service Academies. It was a particularly honorable moment, then, this past Saturday when the first women graduates in the Class of 1980 were able to salute him at the World War II Memorial. A feminist gesture he made in 1976, this goes along with Betty's remarkable public disclosures about her own life and health issues that lifted up women everywhere. We probably wouldn't call Mr. and Mrs. Ford "feminists", but their actions portrayed it plainly.

In his eulogy Tuesday, Henry Kissinger told us of other Ford achievements that are little remembered but still significant: "In his presidency, the International Energy Agency was established, which still [maintains] cooperation among oil-consuming nations. Gerald Ford was one of the founders of the continuing annual economic summit among the industrial democracies." The years Ford was Vice President and President were the time of the OPEC oil embargo and first massive energy price hike. Inflation developed worldwide on a scale previously unknown; there was economic upheaval across the globe. So Gerald Ford worked to bring world leaders and oil consumers together to face this new world-changing shock.

I thought the National Cathedral service was simple and beautifully elegant in that simplicity: the clergy in cassock and surplice, Mr. Ford's own children reading the Lessons, "The King of Love My Shepherd Is" sung as the Psalm. News services called this "elaborate". Perhaps, and certainly the several services and ceremonies were involved and intricate. But the words and music in the cathedral were familiar, comfortable and comforting, the kind of funeral any of us might hope to have. Indeed, whether we are pew-sitters in suburban California, vestry members in downtown Brooklyn or Presidents of the United States, the priest will face the casket at the conclusion and recite these tender phrases,
Into thy hands, O merciful Savior, we commend thy servant. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech thee, a sheep of thine own fold, a lamb of thine own flock, a sinner of thine own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of thy mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

He was a faithful president and a faithful man. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

1/05/2007 7:03 AM  

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