Search

19 Babies: Hurt Hearts

Updated: Jun 1


Welcome to My Blog

I've put off starting a blog because of fear. Fear of the commitment, fear of the response or lack thereof. But when my friends responded to my letter yesterday, I thought for the first time, that perhaps there are more folks like us who just need a space to express our reactions.

My blog is a place where aspiring writers and kindred spirits can commiserate with each other, and agree to disagree on the topics I share here.


Yesterday I wrote this letter to a group of my friends because I was grieving about the children. Their response gave me the courage to share my thoughts with you.



Good morning my friends!

I’ve been meaning to send a polite and timely note to Kim thanking her for her grace and hospitality at our after-Derby morning tea. But I know she knows how overjoyed we were. I love these teas, I love seeing and sitting and chatting with each of you, my friend. Still, I planned on being gracious. But alas, procrastination took over. First, I wanted to write my notes on the cake recipe to send to you. Then I got busy with my nonprofit boards, after that, I was just plumb lazy! But I must be careful about calling myself lazy—remember what Esther B said in: The Antidote to Laziness Isn’t What You Think.

***

Today though, seemed like the day to connect and be grateful that we can commiserate with each other in the aftermath of last week’s travesty. I can’t watch any of it on the television and I have stopped reading about it—how a child, an 18-year old looked at 19 children in their faces and shot them to death. I can’t dig into any more detail about how 10-year-olds got on their phones and cried out for help. From anyone. And no one came. Undervalued. Their parents, working-class and poor in a nearly all Hispanic school.


I cannot imagine how the mothers of these children, and of their teachers, will face the rest of their lives knowing their children died alone while watching the horror of their classmates. I cannot describe what I conjure up in my head, nor let myself write what I visualize of those 90 minutes. I cannot fathom the agony that those mothers, and fathers too, will live with forever.

***

My heart hurts. I’m angry and I can’t listen to another politician—let me be candid, another Republican talk about “guns don’t kill, people do,” or dismiss their culpability by saying more bolted doors, an army of police, and armed patrol in schools will do the trick. In an elementary school! Forgive me, my rant comes also on the heels of having just watched The Armor of Light—a documentary with Rob Schenck, one of the founding leaders of the evangelical movement. (Amazon Prime Video.) I had also just read Schenck’s memoir, Costly Grace, in which he describes his conversion and life through the evangelical movement, his transition from, and ultimate abandonment of his long-time faith.


For some time now, I have harbored harsh feelings toward evangelicals for what I only surmised might be their role in the culture wars—though shamefacedly I had no justification. Till now. Both the book and the movie have confirmed every bit of what I suspected. The prominent figures of today’s culture wars from abortion to gun control—like Jay Sekulow, Pat Robertson, Randall Terry, C. Everett Coop, Ralph Reed, Beverly LaHaye, and Francis Schaefer, have long played big roles in whipping up and sustaining divisiveness.


Schenck says his departure from the evangelical faith was greatly influenced by his discovery of a theology of grace—costly grace—developed by the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I’m no biblical scholar, but I am certain that the modern evangelical movement eschews costly grace, which would require its leadership and church members to follow Christ’s example of forgiveness and to love others as oneself. Instead, the evangelical’s answer to Bonhoeffer’s foundational question, how can I live the Christian life in the modern world, is to punish the “sins” of their enemies—those who disagree with their ideology, but look the other way for their supporters. They beat back disagreements and differences to establish an “us” against “them” playbook and control their groupspeak.


I am now certain the evangelical movement has lost its way. Its leaders dispense cheap grace where the sins and immorality of the favored are waved off without acknowledgment or admission of wrongdoing—Trump was said to be a new “baby” Christian when caught on tape describing his sexual assault of women. His grievous moral lapses and ethical malfeasance were pointed back to the victim—Stormy Daniels was a call girl, she did it for money. From this vantage point, evangelicals can reduce the victims of their actions to a nonpersonhood state. Their ideologies sustain the culture wars nourished at all costs such that, in daily practice, the sanctity of life applies only to an unborn fetus.


In Uvalde the excuses are piling up, I was misled, the door was unlocked, and the police chief was absent. It was a, perhaps mentally unstable, teenager who caused the mayhem. The sound bites keep changing as the governor, senators, and others deflect and point to an incompetent police force that fumbled their jobs. This tragedy they claim had nothing to do with the gunman’s unfettered access to weapons of mass destruction. But in Uvalde, like East Buffalo and in so many other places, politicians have long neglected these communities and regarded their voices as noise.


Even in the face of this tragedy, politicians seem incapable of hearing the community, as if those 15,000 Uvalde residents are not worth hearing. Republican lawmakers, many of whom are avowed evangelical Christian gun owners tell themselves it is a local or community problem, they own no culpability for their role in the irresponsible, unrestricted access to the gun that killed these babies. Cheap grace—the absolution they bestow on themselves. No admission for their knowing harmful rhetoric and lack of compassion. No confession for their failure to govern.


***

My heart is broken.

***


When I awoke this morning I found my Peace Lilly drooping and sad. Like my heart. Not impossible to resuscitate, but struggling to show off the beauty of its dark green leaves. My heart is struggling to release its sorrow. Shunned by the springtime sun from my dining room window, my Peace Lilly now gets less light. So I’ve moved it in front of the patio door and positioned its shorter leaves to face the morning sun. And almost to remind me of resilience, in no time my lily has perked up, its leaves extending their tips upright and alert. A little like my heart.

***


I am thankful for the sunlight of our comradeship, and compassion, my friends. You hold out your hands to bid me come closer. You hold me up with your love. I pray that we will clasp our hands together, here in Louisville, and extend them to the mothers over there in Uvalde, to hold them up during this dreadful time of loss.


***


Leave a comment, but know this is a space for kindred spirits, where we can commiserate with each other, and agree to disagree without vulgar tirades. Any comment deemed offensive or inappropriate will be rejected and promptly removed.



12 views0 comments