Maya Angelou, Secular Chaplain

Medal of Freedom
Medal of Freedom for a Freethinker

Oh, I know, Maya Angelou (who sadly just passed away) was a “person of faith.”

Everyone likes to claim famous people for their own faith or faction.

So, let’s claim this Great Poet, Writer and National Treasure for Secular Chaplaincy.

I’m sure we could proof-text her many writings and speeches.

But I find her words from this 2013 interview in New Orleans very intriguing (emphases mine):

“It’s a wonderful thing to know that there is something to know there is something greater than I am, and that is God itself.”

“When I was asked to do something good, I often say yes, I’ll try, yes, I’ll do my best. And part of that is believing, if God loves me, if God made everything from leaves to seals and oak trees, then what is it I can’t do?”

“If you don’t have courage, but if you have courage, you say “well, yes, I’m a human being and nothing human can be alien to me.” So I will see human beings and I believe — whether they believe it or not — I believe they were made by God and I’m not in a position to put them down because they look different from me. They speak other languages than I speak, and because they call God a different name, if they call God at all, I’m not qualified to put people down. My role is to live the best life, stand on a good foot. Try to be kind, fair, generous, try to be courageous. That’s it.”

Q: So it sounds like a lot of that faith is a vehicle for acceptance of all kinds of people.

MA: Well, part of my faith, yes. And also part of intelligence. Just intelligence can tell you. There’s the saying, “what you sow, so shall you reap.” I don’t know why anybody has to be taught that. If you just watch … nature’s been saying that for billions of years. If you plant a tomato seed, if it comes up, it will give you millions of tomato seeds. You’re a fool to have planted an acorn and go out and think you’re going to reap oranges. A fool. And nature shows you time after time, day in and day out.”

A magnificent lady and inspiring artist.  A great human being.  She will be missed by people of faith and no faith.

Here she is reciting one of my favorite poems, “And Still I Rise”


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