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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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Revising history

It’s not difficult or inappropriate to trace the tragedy of the Emanuel AME Church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina to the unhealed wound of slavery in the United States. Many prominent writers, such as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, have done it. The connection was made implicitly by Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina when she gave support for removal from the state capitol grounds of the flag of the Confederacy. For those who aren’t American, the Confederate States of America was the group of rebellious states, including South Carolina, that from 1860 to 1865 fought (and lost) a Civil War to defend their way of life, which happened to include slaves.

The flag is still a symbol of defiance for some Americans and a symbol of slavery for others. But slavery today is more than symbols. We see its lingering effects in many forms, from the economic disparity between black and white families to the vicious hatred toward the nation’s first black president. Millions of slave descendants, struggling to escape what Times columnist Krugman calls “our nation’s original sin,” are still seeking the full benefits of being American.

You and I can help America rise above the lingering effects of slavery and wipe the record clean. As South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said, “...the problems we have today in South Carolina and across the world are not because of a movie or because of symbols, it is because of what is in people’s hearts.” That’s where healing can begin.

The Christian Science Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, had an unusual view of history. “The human history needs to be revised,” she once wrote, “and the material record expunged.” She wasn’t advocating rewriting history the way oppressive regimes do to justify themselves. She was saying that we can heal the sorrow and pain of the past in our lives by rising to a spiritual view of life as God sees it and has given it to us. We have a right to reject the sentence of material history. We are not trapped in the past, or by it. “Now are we the sons of God,” the Bible puts it. Every one of us, whether our ancestors were slaves, slave owners or something else.

How long do Americans have to suffer for this great sin? As long as it takes for us to move beyond it. In his Second Inaugural Address in 1865, when the Civil War was close to the end but still burning, President Lincoln issued a warning: “...if God wills that [the Civil War] continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’" This is not the curse of an unmerciful God. It is the promise of salvation from the evils of the past. Sometimes suffering is part of the route to get there.

The Civil War needs to wrap up. Let’s get to work cleansing our hearts and wiping them clean of racism. We have a right to revise history until it no longer divides us and holds us back.

Reader Comments (3)

Well said, Keith.

Clearly revision and expunging are needed in the hearts and minds of both European and African Americans: in some ways the same, in some ways different.

And then, these changes need to be evidenced in practical ways, including individual behavior as well as new government policies, which no longer interfere with family formation and the development of All-American, i.e. middle-class values and at least a middle class standard of living.

How sadly ironic that God sends his messengers--such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the 1960s expounding wisely on problems and solutions, or Dylann Roof's friend, who tried to stop him--but we don't seem to have the moral certainty needed to listen and act prophylactically.

June 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRob

P.S. Lest any members of TMC are tempted to indulge in any sense of superiority, take a look at:
"Getting beyond segregated Sundays"
Bettie B. Thompson interviewed by the Journal’s Roger Gordon
From the August 2013 issue of The Christian Science Journal
(excerpt): "It’s amazing to me to think that in the Christian Science church, prejudice could ever have taken such a foothold as to cause a need for specifically black churches. Such prejudice seems to go entirely against the ethics of Christian Science. I’ve heard stories of blacks sitting on one side of the church, and whites on the other side, but you weren’t even at the same church!

Well, let’s move ahead a few decades. In 1980, I was appointed the first African American lecturer on the Christian Science Board of Lectureship. I was just about to go on my first lecture tour. It was a Friday, and I was leaving home on the following Monday. But then I got a call from The Mother Church, saying, “Bettie, we’ve got some sad news. There’s a church in Oklahoma that has canceled.”

Here I was all excited, and I had butterflies in my stomach as I was about to leave on my first tour. But I was just told, “A lady called and said when the church got your material in the mail, they discovered you were black.”

In olden days, in the Journal, they used to put “C” behind the listing of black practitioners’ names—“C” meaning “Colored.” But they’d stopped doing that by now, so the lady had said, “If you had put a ‘C’ behind her name, we would have known she was black, and therefore we would not have selected her.”

When I heard what she said, I couldn’t believe it. You know, when I became a Christian Scientist, I looked at Christian Scientists as being different, as being saints. I had read in Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures all about the love of humanity—all of the good qualities of man. I thought if all of that was in the writings, then the Christian Scientists must be perfect!

When I joined my branch church, after I interviewed for membership, one of the members looked at me and said, “Remember, Christian Science is perfect, but Christian Scientists may not be perfect.”

We’re all related to God, and we have only one Father, so we can’t be different. As we develop this spiritual understanding, the healing will come with racism.

That blew my brain! It really did. I tell you, I had been on cloud nine. This pierced my bubble. But as time went on, I found that the Christian Science movement consists of human beings, and they often embody the qualities of their surrounding environment.

So, after that lady canceled, I started getting other refusals, too. I said to myself, “I wonder why?” I thought of Jackie Robinson, the first black baseball player to integrate Major League Baseball. A lot of black people think in terms of Jackie Robinson breaking the ice in baseball. I was the first African American on the Board of Lectureship. I had to break the ice and encounter some prejudice, kind of like Jackie Robinson.

Fortunately, I was able to lecture in 47 of the 48 contiguous United States. But many churches were still concerned about a black person being the lecturer, because, back in those days, they had huge churches, and they were packed. The first lecture I did, the church held 700 or 800 people. Every seat was taken, and people were lined around the walls. Yet I looked out at the audience, and the only black face I saw was my husband’s.

On the other hand, I had many wonderful experiences and favorable reactions from people who welcomed me. I think this is because I lectured a little differently from most people. In our race, we have some outstanding orators. You’ve probably seen Martin Luther King, Jr., give his speeches. Back then, many black people who spoke were orators. I was in that range, and often when I gave a lecture, the audience was rapt. When I finished, many people were not ready to get up and leave. I would often hear about people saying, “Whenever that black lady comes to your town, be sure you go and hear her.”'

June 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Very proud that you are putting this out into the world, Dad, and it's an important perspective particularly in the midst of this tragedy and this increasingly volatile world.
A biased son

June 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGregor Collins

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