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Wednesday, November 26 2014 @ 12:26 PM CST

Newton, Boston, and the Martyrology of Whiteness

Anarchist Opinion

This is going to be a very difficult piece to write and, in all honesty, I do not know if I am going to do a very good job. The region where I live has, in the past few months, witnessed two very heinous acts of violence that were prominently covered in the mainstream media. On December 14 of last year, twenty children and six teachers were gunned down in a school shooting in Newton, CT. Yesterday, three people were killed and 126 wounded when two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Newton, Boston, and the Martyrology of Whiteness

by Greg Williams
Jesus Radicals
April 17, 2013

“Lord God, merciful God, our Father, shall we keep silent, or shall we speak? And if we speak, what shall we say?” – Dorothy Day, January 1942

FRIDAY—THE BARE FACTS AND THE CHURCH’S RESPONSE

This is going to be a very difficult piece to write and, in all honesty, I do not know if I am going to do a very good job. The region where I live has, in the past few months, witnessed two very heinous acts of violence that were prominently covered in the mainstream media. On December 14 of last year, twenty children and six teachers were gunned down in a school shooting in Newton, CT. Yesterday, three people were killed and 126 wounded when two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Both of these events are horrific and inexcusable. As followers in Jesus’ way of peacemaking and justice-seeking, I do believe that we are called to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and to “persevere in prayer” (12:8). In this light, how could we, the Church, not respond to tragedies like these by holding services of commemoration to mourn the loss of life involved in these events? How can we not pray for the dead, the injured and those still in harm’s way? These are, on one level, profoundly understandable responses.

Yet, speaking only for myself, I see something else in the response to both of these events in communities to which I belong that I find a lot more troubling.

We are not only commemorating these events, we are collectivizing them. We are going beyond saying that the Newtown school shooting and the Boston marathon bombing are traumas—which they are—to the point of saying that they are our traumas. Facebook memes are abounding encouraging people to hug their kids or drop f-bombs about the levels of evil in the world and the like—things that one would normally do not to sympathize with another person but rather to express grief for one’s own loss. In Church, we are singing songs like “I Want Jesus to Walk with me” and “How Can I Keep from Singing?” songs that express a personal sense of grief and loss.

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