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What Would My Ancestors Do?

December 23, 2012 , , , , , , ,

Sears Cemetery

Sears Cemetery, Barnstable

You do not need to hold a seance to contact the spirits of the dead. You can use a few facts, or many facts if you have them, to query your ancestors. These are not fictional characters of history, but your DNA connection to the past. The novels you have read in your life can not possibly match the drama of the story of your particular historical survival.  Your ancestors handed down to you an ethical will.  Those who left no written document have nonetheless passed values to the future, with less precision. You are now actively creating the history and the ethics you want to survive in the world.

I started to study my ancestry to learn about the ethical will of my people, whoever they were.  My mother had never described her family in any racial terms.  I was taught that the Taylors were, in no uncertain terms, Confederate Rebels.  My mother, Ruby Taylor’s very large family all lived in Texas.  They were involved in religion to a much greater degree than our family living in Pittsburgh. The went to church at least three times a week, including Wednesday.  They did a bit of holy rolling and other practices foreign to me. Indeed, my great grandfather Taylor fought in the civil war and received a Confederate pension in Texas in his old age.  He was a farmer and preacher in the Church of Christ.  This story was the known history of the  Taylor tribe, and even this information was never retold to the Taylors of the 1960’s.

What nobody knew at the Taylor family reunion in Houston on the 4th of July each year in the 1960’s was that our Taylor forefather and his wife’s uncle had been burned at the stake as Protestant martyrs in England.  Now that is what I call a Rebel.  The roots of each family feed the ethical expression (also known as fruit) of the family spirit.  The tongue speaking, chicken frying Taylors of Humble/Houston all shared a particular extreme view of the Bible that freaked me out when I was young. The Pentecostal experience, when I was exposed to it, frightened me.   Now that I know about the stake burning it all makes perfect sense.

My forefathers and mothers in the grave yard pictured above lived in Holland, then sailed to Plymouth to build a shining city on a hill, creating a strong, complex ethical will.  They  had a lot to say about the way they thought all cosmology worked in harmony with government.  They had strong convictions by which they lived and died.  Now that I know more about the lives of these elders in my tribe I have a greater responsibility.  I can no longer look at Thanksgiving as a bunch of stuffing.  I need to discover the meaning of  the Puritan Ethic they created. The values they held are more significant than the physical goods they once owned in old Cape Cod.

On the surface they all seem to use the Bible as an excuse for their own human folly.  Just under the surface is the fact that humans have always indulged in folly to learn the folly of our ways.  What did they learn?  How can we acquire wisdom from their knowledge?

What do you think?

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comments

Wow from Europe to Pa to Texas.. amazing

Like

Stevie Wilson

December 23, 2012

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