Being the Church

I knew at about 6:00 p.m. on Saturday evening that I wanted to write about the events that took place last weekend. After taking a couple days to allow everything to sink in, I need to say something. I am just not exactly sure what. I have had so many thoughts run through my mind that I am not even sure where it is I want to start. Then it hit me tonight while sitting at church.

I spent a few hours praying about how to approach the subject as a Christian writer. I spent some time digging into Scripture, but the words I am looking for haven’t come to mind. Instead, I have decided to write as a husband in an interracial marriage and the father of a soon to be two-year-old daughter with mixed parents.

First of all, I am not ok with racism. Period. I don’t want to hear any of that freedom of speech crap either. When we were given that right as Americans, I don’t believe our founding fathers had anything like last weekend in mind. That’s as political as I am going to get about the matter.

Racism in my life

Growing up in a small, predominantly white town in northern Indiana, racism was a part of my life from a young age. The average adult during my youth didn’t say or do too much to demonstrate just how wrong racism was. It’s not that they were necessarily supportive of it. I just don’t think they realized the power adults have to influence young children on such controversial matters.

I have also experienced the other end of the situation. Living as one of very few Caucasians in Brownsville, Texas, I was followed home by a vehicle with five Hispanic men making intimidating comments because of the color of my skin one night while taking a walk. I remember being frightened enough that I went several blocks out of my way to make sure they did not see where I lived. Once I had safely arrived home, I can’t remember a time in my life when I experienced such intense anger.

I was able to be smart and keep my mouth shut that night. I put my head down and stared at my feet, walking as fast as I could. However, if it would have been a group of white men making comments to my wife or daughter about the color of their skin, I don’t think I would have been able to keep myself in check. Yes, four or five grown men would have gotten the best of me. But I guarantee at least one of them would have known how I felt about it.

Making things personal

I have spent some time trying to imagine how horrible things are right now for the parents of the young woman who lost her life in the incident with the car used as a battering ram. Things must be just as difficult for the mother of the young man who was driving. Time has been spent trying to put myself in the shoes of a parent watching the news and seeing their own child taking part in the demonstration.

I keep trying to remember exactly what all took place in Ferguson, Missouri and how the media and the public responded. It really doesn’t matter, just something that has been on my mind. I think about groups such as the KKK and the black lives matter movement. I struggle to remember that Jesus has forgiven them of their sins just as much as he has mine.

With all of these thoughts, one has taken up the most of my time. When does the Church do something? I am not talking about holding a prayer vigil or dedicating a decade on the Rosary. I mean when are we really going to do something? Yes, I know, I know. As the Church, we are forgiving. We are tolerant. Christians keep doing what the government and media tell us to do and sit behind closed doors with our mouths shut.

Where’s the Church?

I think too many men have fallen for the misunderstanding that being a “good” Catholic means you check your manhood at the front door every time you leave your house. I’d like to say we don’t even leave home with our Bibles unless it’s Sunday, but most Catholics don’t even do that. Men march down the streets with torches and scream racial slurs, but Catholic men are too afraid to have their families join hands in prayer at a booth in a public restaurant before eating. I think too many of us choose to believe that St. Peter just happened to find a sword in a bush in the garden when he sliced off a man’s ear when they showed up to arrest Jesus.

Now, I am not saying we need to start carrying around weapons. However, I also know my family and I have protection if we ever need it. If that makes me less of a Christian than you, let me know so I can keep you in my prayers.

Making a difference

Racism has been an issue in our country since day one. I am smart enough to know that nothing I write is going to change that. Writers with more talent than me have been trying for centuries to no avail. But, I do believe that we as the Church could make a difference, in one community at a time. We could be the ones doing the marching. We could be the ones making our voices heard in public. Members of the Church could be the ones who finally get to express their feelings and take a stand.

Or, we could keep having prayer vigils and hope someone else does the work we were chosen for. We could actually do something that makes our children say, “The Church did this, and my family was a part of it,” instead of explaining why nothing is ever going to change.

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