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Daily News and Prayer is inspired by The Christian Science Monitor, one of the most important (and most underappreciated) newspapers in the world. Posts are usually (but not always) responses to articles in the Monitor about events and trends that call for prayer.

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Friday
Jun192015

Charleston

“Thy sins be forgiven thee.”

Nine African-Americans are dead because a white man was welcomed into their church, listened for a while to the pastor, then shot him and eight others around him.

Who do we imagine will be helped if we pour more enmity and recrimination upon America now?

As the paralyzed man rose and walked when Jesus told him his sins were forgiven, America will walk again. The world needs America’s vision of principled freedom and opportunity as much as it needs the joy of life of the Italians and the quiet confidence of the Swedes.

“Thy sins be forgiven thee.”

A woman named Ann from Boston left this comment yesterday after an article in The New York Times:

“I am very sad today and my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Charleston. When something like this happens, it is easy to blame the Republicans, the Democrats, the NRA, the President, etc. The reality is that we are all responsible. When we point fingers and use a tragedy of this magnitude to justify our own ignorance, we diminish ourselves. We need to look past our differences, and focus on what unites us: our desire to live in peace, to keep our families safe, to be recognized as people with dreams and aspirations.”

Many commenters hated her implication that they, too, were responsible for the murders in Charleston, but if Ann meant we all have a responsibility to cleanse ourselves of hate, no matter who it’s aimed at, she’s right. It’s the only way America will find forgiveness.

“Thy sins be forgiven thee.”

The America I grew up in, the one millions of people loved for its high-minded dedication to liberty and justice for all, may be no more. But maybe we don’t need it anymore. That was the America where the world was the sinner and America was the stumbling savior. Maybe the world has learned what it can from that America, and America needs a new role now.

“Thy sins be forgiven thee.”

“People are talking openly about [what happened in Charleston],” the Rev. Jeremy Rutledge, pastor for the Circular Congregational Church in Charleston, told reporter Henry Gass of The Christian Science Monitor yesterday. “‘What’s happening, what does this moment mean?’ I think the moment may be stretching back several months now, but there’s a lot that seems to be coming to the surface.” Earlier in the week, before the tragedy in the church, Rutledge had told the Monitor, "There’s bitterness, but there’s also a very strong spirit of working together and being part of a long movement for change. There is something going on in Charleston."

Wouldn’t it be ironic if, 152 years after the end of slavery, after the assassination of the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, the indignities of Jim Crow, the mass lynchings, the insults at lunch counters and on buses, the murders of King and Evers and all the others, after more than three centuries of economic, social and personal injustice to Africans and their descendants in America, after all that, wouldn’t it be ironic if the African-American community were the one to lead America finally to the point where it can begin, not to find greatness again, but to find humility and forgiveness?

Reader Comments (4)

Wouldn't it be helpful to remember that 300 years after the first African slaves were brought to the New World, the largest black middle class--not to mention the most entrepreneurial/sports/entertainment millionaires--exists in America; while tribal leaders are still selling their fellow Africans into slavery in Africa and the Middle East; and most of the world is either largely homogenous or very ethnically/racially stratified and antagonistic (can you say: Switzerland? Japan? India? China? etc.).

Human nature is human nature wherever you go, but the American Founders (standing on the shoulders of many prior greats) figured out an amazing system (quite a bag full of tricks) to keep it in check and people self-governing and prosperous.

To paraphrase Churchill: America is the least fair/successfully integrated society imaginable--except for all the rest.

I don't think the world can do without America's imperfect example, or its "exceptionalism."

June 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Dear Rob: So after all that incredibly pretentious diatribe, I still have no idea what your point is.

June 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterVictor Bourdain

Speaking of human nature: I think the Monitor is charged by MBE to get beneath the surface of what happened and help the public understand why human beings are capable of such atrocitiesand how to "watch" out in the futrue.----using the wisdom of criminologists, psychologists, philosophers, and not least of all religionists. I think this is what is needed/will help beyond ordinary reporting--sensational or sensitive. I think this is what MBE meant when she said the Monitor should, "spread undivided the Science that operates unspent." This is EXACTLY when such radical journalism is most needed.

June 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRob

P.P.S.

Dylann Roof, Suspect in Charleston Shooting, Flew the Flags of White Power

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/19/us/on-facebook-dylann-roof-charleston-suspect-wears-symbols-of-white-supremacy.html?action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&module=RelatedCoverage&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

Read that story. Once again, we see, someone knew, something could have been--almost was--done to prevent the tragedy.

These horrors are not completely inexplicable, and they are not unstoppable and almost always if not always there are warning signs.

June 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRob

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