Hateful protestors outside Eve Carson's memorial service
There were about a half dozen picketers dotting both sides of the road. They held placards with hateful messages on them--homophobic, "God hates America," and the worst, "God sent the shooter." I am not going to dignify this group by publicizing their name but you can read about them in this local news story.
On the same day that Barack Obama gave his brave and brilliant speech about race, it was like an arrow through my heart to drive past people spewing the most divisive, ridiculous bile.
My United Church of Christ pastor gave a challenging sermon last Sunday that I will link to when the podcast is up. She talked about the story of Palm Sunday, how it's the triumphant, heroic end we are all hoping for, the storyline we could all be really happy with. But instead, Jesus goes on from Palm Sunday to Good Friday and faces the cross. His call to follow him to that place, through suffering and death to a better place, is much more challenging than a feel-good "Return of the King"-style blockbuster.
Seeing those protestors outside a caring young woman's memorial is a challenge. Can we move forward beyond hate? Can we turn that rage into something that motivates more productive actions?
I encourage you to take the time to watch Obama's speech in its entirety (37 minutes). He explores the history of racism in America, and deplores the divisive comments his pastor made without denouncing the man himself. No matter whom you plan to vote for, his speech is a significant contribution to our American dialogue.