A Very Hopeful Prospect

People my age have come a long way and have seen American culture evolve dramatically and profoundly. Among the many powerful images of a woman clinching a major American political party’s nomination for president the most powerful was not in the newspaper. Rather it came in the form of a text from my daughter-in-law in San Diego. Two little girls, 11 and 9, are sitting in front of a television set watching Hillary Clinton speak to her supporters after her decisive primary victories last week. Fiona and Eliza will come of age without the limitations faced by their grandmothers, and their mother and aunts, on the sole basis of their gender. What a fine moment it was, and what a long way we have come.

It wasn’t all that long ago, after all, that conventional wisdom was certain that a woman could not pilot an airliner safely, perform open heart surgery, lead a battalion into combat, preach a sermon and administer the sacraments. In my lifetime not only the structures that kept those limitations in place have mostly disappeared but so have the underlying cultural assumptions that provided the rationale. It was only twenty years ago that a woman we know, a dear friend, confided that her anxiety skyrocketed at the thought that a menopausal woman might be piloting the plane on which she was a passenger. She was not alone in her fear.

And a few decades before that I was part of a meeting to set the compensations for denominational executives that concluded that it was appropriate to pay the lone woman on the staff a lesser amount than her colleagues because her husband had a lucrative job. Furthermore, I here humbly and remorsefully confess that I made the motion that did it.

It has been quite a journey and I am grateful for it and for all the people, mostly women, who challenged my assumptions and pushed me to change my mind. It began in my own home. My daughters, who had to fight for the establishment of a girls’ track team in Junior High and then pretty much managed the project on their own are now fully engaged in their vocations as special education teacher/homemaker/ fierce advocate and fighter for social justice and inclusivity, and equally forceful advocate/fighter and physician- public health researcher. They taught me and are still teaching me and they make their mother and me proud and profoundly grateful every day of our lives. Their mother, by the way, never bought into the conventional assumptions about what women are capable of doing, has never flagged for a moment in her hopes and support for Hillary Clinton. We had different positions during the 2008 primary election and a hint of domestic discord. I attempted to win back some favor by giving her, for Mother’s Day, a life-size cardboard cut-out figure of Mrs. Clinton who stood, looking very presidential, in our den for more than a year. This time I’m all in with her. And I think a woman, who happens to be incredibly qualified by experience, intellect and temperament, as President of the United States is a very hopeful prospect.


  1. Sue Pelfree says:

    It is so true we are never to old to learn anything. Always love to see what you have written next.

  2. Richard Taylor says:

    Hello John!

    While we moved away from Fourth Church and your fine preaching many years ago, it has been a treat to subscribe to your “Hold To The Good” blog, and to be able to receive our occassional Buchanan dose. Technology can be amazing. In fact, I referred to the optimism and comfort inherent in the blog title in my recent eulogy for Melanie’s father.

    I do feel the inclination to respond to what seems an overly, and overtly, political orientation in your blog of late. Your support/endorsement of Hillary Clinton seems substantially based on her gender. To me, if the primary criteria for a vote is gender, or race, that vote is sexist or racist no matter if the vote is for or against. Perhaps Martin Luther King had it best in his “I Have A Dream” speech when he pleaded for support to be based on “the content of one’s character as opposed to the color of one’s skin.” And while Hillary clearly has a wide range of experience, as you note, it is difficult to not question her character. This is in no way tacit support for her likely opposition, which as you have noted many times would itself be difficult. But as both parties pander for votes, I look forward to the day when some politician will, to plagarize and misquote the Bible, promote teaching people to fish as opposed to promising to just give them fish. And if and when we can support a candidate in spite of his or her gender, race, or orientation, rather than because of it, then true progress will finally have been achieved. Sadly we still seem to have a long way to go on that front.

    Melanie joins in sending our best to you, Sue, and your family.


    Dick Taylor

    On Sat, Jun 11, 2016 at 9:31 PM, Hold to the Good wrote:

    > John M. Buchanan posted: “People my age have come a long way and have seen > American culture evolve dramatically and profoundly. Among the many > powerful images of a woman clinching a major American political party’s > nomination for president the most powerful was not in the newspape” >

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