Jessé de Forest


TO JESSE DE FOREST
HIS FAMILY
AND
HIS BRAVE COMPANIONS
FROM WALLOON COUNTRY
WHO, LOOKING FOR A NEW WORLD
WHERE THEY COULD IN PEACE
AFFIRM THEIR BELIEFS
AND PRACTICE THE REFORMED RELIGION,
CONTRIBUTED GREATLY
TO THE FOUNDATION OF
NEW YORK
THE LARGEST CITY IN AMERICA
WHERE THE CHILDREN OF JESSE DE FOREST : ISAAC, HENRI AND RACHEL
SETTLED IN 1637.

Jessé de Forest – Wikipedia

Arguably my most famous ancestor. Jessé, while not present at the founding, was instrumental in organizing the settlers and negotiating the charter for what became the colony of New Amsterdam, later taken over by the British and renamed New York City. We are related to him through is daughter Rachel (mentioned in the wikipedia article (mentioned in the last sentence of paragraph three of the New-Belgium section).

The American companion to the above French monument is found in Battery Park, New York, New York:

PRESENTED TO THE CITY
OF NEW YORK BY THE
CONSEIL PROVINCIAL DU HAINAUT
IN MEMORY OF THE WALLOON SETTLERS
WHO CAME OVER TO AMERICA IN THE
NIEU NEDERLAND UNDER THE
INSPIRATION OF JESSE DE FOREST OF
AVESNES THEN COUNTY OF HAINAUT
ONE OF THE XVII PROVINCES

Relationships are hard

I wrote this today and showed it to my wife. Her reaction was not what I had expected.

Why am I so depressed right now?  I can’t even think of a reason to be so.  I even had a breakthrough with Hyang yesterday about my atheism.

And yet this is how I feel.  Is it just some chemical imbalance in my head?  No.  It’s my frustration over not being of the same mind regarding this issue with Hyang.  I don’t want to be divided over this.  I want to convince her that christianity is messed up, that there is no god.

But I wonder if that is the right thing to do, or if it’s even possible.  I even feel a little guilty for wishing for it.  I don’t want to take her happiness away and I don’t know how connected that is with her religion.

All I know is that I am sad because of this division, and I know she is too.  I just don’t know how to restore our unity of belief.

Even though it is an unhappy business, I think the best course of action is the one we have chosen.  we need to respect and accept one another, acknowledging our differences while not forcing them on the other.

I thought that she would see the commonality we shared, that both of us were frustrated with this divide and that though the belief systems we hold are different, that the many of the same emotions and sentiments were still held in common. Instead, she seems to have taken my writing as confirmation that I am somehow the enemy and that she cannot have peace with me.

My first reaction was to apologize, to try and ameliorate the situation. But then I thought, what have I done wrong? I was simply trying to be honest about the frustrations that I believed we both share regarding the situation we find our relationship in. We had had a good talk just the day before, and we had agreed to be open and honest with each other, to keep the lines of communication open and to respect and accept each other even if we didn’t approve of each others beliefs.

So, here I am again, wondering what I can do to improve our relationship. It occurs to me now that perhaps it was simply too much too soon, and that the compressed schedule was too fast for her. On the other hand, our problem has been exactly that Hyang’s approach to our problem has been to largely ignore it, which leaves me feeling emotionally isolated and alone in this struggle to fit our two lives together in a congenial fashion. It is so frustrating not being able to figure out a middle way between facilitating evasion and overwhelming her. Honestly, I don’t even know if there is such a third option.

And honestly, I am a little frustrated with Christianity and the ambiguous manner with which it paints people like me, which I believe to be contributing to the difficulties my wife having in figuring out how to treat with me. On the one hand, there is the example of Jesus consorting with the less desirable elements of society as well as Paul’s explicit instructions to not divorce the unbelieving spouse.

At the same time however, the unbeliever is a fool, an inveterate liar, and stands accused of a whole host of immoral behaviors. I can understand the concern and even anxiety this would cause if one’s husband suddenly transformed into such an individual. Add to this the likelihood that not only would such a person not assist you in guiding your children from eternal torment, but would actively seek to lead into said horror. The only rational response to such a situation would be to isolate yourself from this person in the most practicably effective manner possible.

I don’t know how someone is supposed to handle this kind of tension in a “biblical” manner, but it certainly seems understandable that many Christian spouses would feel something akin to being legally obligated to reside with a known psychopath. You might have no choice in the manner, but within the letter of the law you’ll do whatever you can to minimize you and your families exposure. Even if they don’t legally divorce their atheist spouse, they have already emotionally divorced themselves from the person and the legal issues are but a mere formality.

So, I hope that it doesn’t come as too big of a surprise when I express some frustration with how Christianity has, in effect, poisoned the well of our relationship. I have not given up, and will continue to persevere in my efforts towards effecting a harmonious and happy environment for my wife and children, but I do not believe that Christianity is proving to be a boon in this effort, despite claims made in its name to being family friendly.

Great-Great-Great-Great Uncle Olaf Lafverson’s Naturalization Card


Family Name:
Laverson (Lafverson)                                     

Given Name or Names:
Olof

Certificate No. (or vol. and page):
Vol. A, pg 63                 

Title and Location of Court:
Circuit Ct. Knoxville, Ill.

Country of Birth or Allegiance:
Sweden                                

When Born or Age:
X

Date and Port of Arrival in U.S.:
Oct. 1-1853 Boston       

Date of Naturalization:
Oct. 26-1858

Names and Addresses of Witnesses:
Peter Matteson                                        X
G. W. G. Ferris                                       X

U.S. Department of Labor, Immigration, and Naturalization Service

Friends

I wake and greet the rising sun
and the rising sun wakes to greet me
with the same prodigious light that shines
on the righteous and the wicked.

I rise and welcome the morning rain
and the morning rain welcomes me in return
with the gentle clap of a thousand drops
ungrudging in their gift.

I shake myself and kiss the wind
and the wind shakes me with its kisses
pressing against me with persistent joy
of lovers reunited

But the bonds of friend and family
accord a different kind of affair
they love the character I play
but not the man beneath

Sunday

I don’t know what I’m doing here Sunday after Sunday.  It drags on and on with no apparent end or purpose other than to pacify the fears of Hyang.  Every week, I come into this building wishing I wasn’t here, hating the circumstances that trap me in this pattern of outward religiosity.

But the costs of breaking out of this trap is the loss of valued parts of myself.  My wife and marriage, perhaps even my children, could be lost.  And yet not acting continues to eat away at me and I feel that something is slowly being lost, my integrity.  I still don’t know how to find my way through this minefield so that I can preserve both. 

I’m going to find a way though, I can’t surrender either of these.  There is to much of who I am and who I want to be at stake here to not try.