yesterday and today

I have seen motorcycles with flags blazing riding down the street in an impromptu parade.

I have briefly surveyed the media's rendition of a memorial service.

I have watched names being read, and wreaths being laid.

I have listened to reports about being prepared for an emergency.

All of these things are meant to remind us to remember. But what is it that we are to remember? Death? Evil? Coming together for a brief second? Economic destruction? Fear-mongering? I'm not sure what I am supposed to feel (or even remember) these days.

Whatever goodwill we gathered has been used and abused. The event we memorialize has been turned into a political stump upon which dissenters and those critical of the current way of handling things are constantly beheaded.

Furthermore, what are we, as "Christians," supposed to do with this day? Undoubtedly some amongst our midst will use it to further the cause of hatred in the world based on religious views; others will use it as a sacrament to inextricably tie Christianity to this particular nation; still some might see it as a prime time for an altar call. Regardless, I have no doubts that Christians everywhere will find some way to interpret this day as a rallying cry for a "God"-fearing vindictive stance to those things that are different.

At a conference this summer I spent some time with a group of people talking about the events that took place at Columbine a number of years ago. One of the sticking points for many "Christians" was an impromptu memorial that happened in a local park after the event. At the memorial, crosses were placed for ALL of the people who died including the two shooters. Those in the community decried the placement of these crosses as an act of insensitivity and they were forcibly removed from the memorial.

When we memorialize things, I think we have a tendency to glamorize them as well. We turn ordinary people into martyrs and perfect them through the reporting of their lives over the public airwaves. However, there are those who commit acts that hurt other people, and they are human beings as well. Just as we deify the lives lost, we also demonize those who take lives. How are we to deal with these people, the ones who commit atrocious acts but are nonetheless also creations of God? We have ignored our responsibility as "Christians" for too long. Instead of being a conscience for this nation, we have become crusaders bent on domination rather than humble servants of a God bigger than we can comprehend.

The people who committed these acts do not have to honored, but their circumstances and their lives need to be remembered as well. Moreover, we need to ask the tough questions that led to the creation of their beliefs and actions. We need to understand both our complicity in the creation of their situation (global poverty and hopelessness among others), and their responsibility for their actions. Christians, above all, are about the business of grace and yet where is the grace in the memorialization of this day? If we are about forgiveness, then where are the preachers and theologians who are crying out for this discipline on this day? If we are about justice and righteousness, then where are the voices who are speaking out against global poverty and economic justice for all people so that some of the conditions that breed hatred can be alleviated? If we are about peace and grace, where are the "Christian" voices that are speaking out against violence, war and terror?

Instead of a day of memorialization this can become a day of dialogue. A time where we can come together and talk about what needs to change in the world so that events like this no longer are necessary. Maybe someday we can realize that behind every religious veil we created to hide or separate ourselves from one another hides a human being who is struggling to make sense of the world, the meaning of life, and their responsibilities.

grace and peace



Visit InfoServe for blogger templates