Fort Worth: ‘We are baptized for such moments as this’

Posted Aug 15, 2017

[Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth] What happened in Charlottesville must be condemned. As a religious public figure, I rarely use the word “condemn,” as it connotes a type of punishment – typically meaning death. But to condemn an action is to declare it “to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil … without reservation.”

What we witnessed in Charlottesville was evil. It was domestic terrorism deliberately inflicted by white nationalists/supremacists armed with guns and brass knuckles. If there was any doubt of their motives, they carried torches while chanting “Blood and Soil,” which as “Blut und Boden” was a Nazi slogan that described their philosophy of extreme nationalism and racism.

Frankly, it does not take much courage to condemn the violence in Charlottesville, nor to name the racism. Getting honest and naming the effects of our nation’s history of slavery, naming the systems which continue to exploit and oppress people of color, and naming white privilege will take some courage. Working toward racial reconciliation will take courage. Looking inside our own hearts may take some courage, too.

It is striking that Saturday’s victim, Heather Heyer, made one last Facebook post before she was killed: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” In other words, we should have been outraged before Saturday.

It is not wrong to be angry. The fourth century saint, Augustine, said: “Hope has two beautiful daughters; Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they don’t remain as they are.” I’m mindful of a portion of the Franciscan Blessing: “May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace.”

As living members of the Body of Christ, we are called to proclaim and embody hope – not simply “otherworldly hope” (however true), but hope that this world can change. Our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry reminds us that we are part of a movement (the Jesus Movement) “to make disciples who will change this world by the power of God’s love.” Love changes hearts. Love changes lives. Love changes this world. We are baptized for such moments as this.

The Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer, provisional bishop