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It’s All Connected

December 5, 2014

Not a long post today.  I just wanted to share my reflections on this past Sunday’s Epistle from the extraordinary form.

I live near St. Louis, Missouri.  As many of you know the St. Louis metro area has been going through a period of civil unrest stemming from a white police officer’s shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed young black man and a grand jury subsequently deciding not to indite the officer for the use of deadly force.  I don’t need to get into the details as by now most everyone in the western world has seen some coverage of the story.

Before I move on to what all this has to do with last Sunday’s Epistle; I want to defend my home town, or at least home metro area.  St. Louis all-in-all is a great place.  It is no where near as dangerous as statistics suggest.  Due to a historical anomaly St. Louis is an independent city, not part of a county.  Because of this the city proper has been land-locked since 1876 , the city divorced the mostly rural St. Louis County and has there-by been unable to annex it’s suburbs as have most similar sized cities.   Today St. Louis County is one large flowing metro area made up of a patchwork of 90 municipalities which added together have triple the population of the city itself.  The center of the resent protests is of course the North St. Louis County city of Ferguson which is just 6.2 square miles in size.  The majority of the protests and violence took place over just a handful city blocks.    In other words if you are thinking about canceling your next trip to St. Louis, you really have nothing to worry about.

(c) USA Today

(c) USA Today

Back to the Epistle:  Seeing all the coverage on national and international television, one can only imagine what people living in the St. Louis area are seeing on our local news every night.  Although most of the major carnage has slowed down, there are still almost daily stories of small protests turning violent.

This past Sunday we read from Paul’s letter to the Romans 13:11-14 “Brethren, knowing that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is passed, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy: But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Of course hearing the word “rioting” immediately perked up my ears while at mass.  Being a young college instructor I’m social network friends with scores of college students, most are liberal, and many were cheering on the rioters.  Some posted references to the Boston Tea Party, American Revolution, the taking of Versailles, or the fall or the Berlin Wall.  One of my students even posted a YouTube video of the Les Mis song “Do You Hear The People Sing”.  I was saddened by comparisons, mainly because they elevated the actions of drunken rioting looters to those of legitimate revolutionaries overthrowing oppressive regimes.  The looters we saw last week showed no remorse for Michael Brown.  The looters were not somber, they were running, smiling, drinking, and laying waste to their own neighborhood.

ferg2

It is my belief that change is needed in the St. Louis region.  The area is one of the most racially segregated in the country.  What happened last week, however, is not the way.  Perhaps my students need to reflect on the words of Paul and they would have a different idea of how to achieve the change that they so desire.  Perhaps those participating in violent protests should also  “…cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities…”

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