Interdependent Web: Lament for Emanuel AME Church

Interdependent Web: Lament for Emanuel AME Church

A weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism.


In blogs and other online content, Unitarian Universalists expressed their pain and anger about the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17.

The Rev. Lynn Ungar suggested that, before we act, we let the waves of feeling pass through us.

Maybe we could just sit down and cry together first. In the presence of Black rage. In the presence of white shame. In the presence of grief and despair and the overwhelming knowledge that white men with guns just keep killing people. In the devastating remembrance that this is not the first time that a white man with a gun has chosen a place of worship as the most devastating possible place to exact horrific violence. (Quest for Meaning, June 18)

Crystal Lewis has run out of prayers.

Will you instead talk face-to-face with someone about white supremacy and racism? Are you willing to start a conversation about what the world needs in order to move forward in peace?

Is it possible that our prayers for God to somehow “fix” the world seem unheard because we don’t yet see ourselves as the answers to those prayers? And if so, how do we change our faulty perspective? (Window on Religion, June 18)

The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein issued a call to action.

No handwringing and passive prayers to the God who mourns with the slain. Action. Active, committed dismantling of the evil of racism! Anti-racist work is WORK. . . . We are caught in “an inescapable network of mutuality” —Dr. King said that, and I don’t guess he meant that that network was a freaking hammock. (Facebook, June 18)

The Rev. Dr. Michael Tino spoke out, despite the temptation to stay silent.

It is tempting, as a white person, to see this young man in South Carolina, with his apartheid-era South African flag on his jacket and his pronouncements of having to stop Black people from “raping our women and taking over our country” and say, “that’s not me.” . . .

And every now and then, I remain silent in the face of a white supremacist culture that dehumanizes and devalues Black people to the point that #blacklivesmatter has to be said again and again and again.

For every time I’ve been silent, that man is me. I don’t want him to be. So I cannot remain silent. (Facebook, June 18)

Kenny Wiley wrote about the isolation of being black in a predominantly white faith tradition.

People have seen my grief and asked how they can help. Of course it means a lot. But mostly, I want us—people who proclaim belief in equality and justice—to reckon with this. I want us to inconvenience ourselves, for there is nothing convenient about racism. (Facebook, June 18)

Karen Johnston offered “a lamentation to shatter appalling silence.”

We may want this to be only Dylann Roof’s story, but it is not. This story is ours now. What are we going to do with it? Once the lamentations have quieted (but the grief still very much present) and the news-cycle has moved onto the next tragedy, what are we going to do with it? (Irrevspeckay, June 18)

Raziq Brown commented on American racism.

When people say that “America is racist” they often don’t mean that every white person in America is a possible Dylann Roof.

They mean that America is a country that is ultimately hospitable to people like Dylann Roof and kind of has been for about 400 years. Sort of the same way parts of Iraq are hospitable to I.S.I.S. (Facebook, June 18)

The Rev. Rebecca Froom honored Emanuel AME’s long tradition of struggle.

“Mother Emanuel” as the church is called, is the oldest black church south of Baltimore, a congregation that has worked for 200 years to create spaces of sanctuary where black people can gather in dignity and worship in peace. . . . This is a congregation that has worked hard across the ages to affirm that black lives matter. (Facebook, June 18)

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum drew strength from words the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This shooting in Charleston, South Carolina at the Emanuel AME Church says something to us in our religious faith, too. This shooting doesn’t call for us to launch a movement, but to join a movement. This shooting calls for us to be partners, work in solidarity, join coalitions, build bridges.

These deaths say to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for Love. (Rev. Cyn, June 18)

Thomas Earthman struggled to keep believing that the arc of history bends toward justice.

It is on a day like today that I receive a sharp reminder of the fact that our Principles are aspirational. I sit here typing, my eyes tearing up, because I want so badly to keep believing in their eventuality. There are days when I feel the absolute hope that those values are so obvious that they are inevitable. Today is not that kind of day. Today, I am reminded that my liberal religion warns me that goodness is not guaranteed nor something we can wish into being. If we want a better world, we have to make it happen. We have to make changes in order to insure that the worth and dignity of every person is honored, and some groups need it more desperately than others. (I Am UU, June 18)

The Rev. Scott Wells raised the question, “What can we do to help?”

I’m avoiding online commentaries that suggests that these murders can be addressed by study, or progressive action or better ideas. And I’m double-avoiding any notion that adds a burden to that church, Charleston or the increasingly beleaguered African American community. If you can’t help, take a pass. Words are nice, but contact is better and (since a casserole is impractical) a gift of money is better still. (Boy in the Bands, June 18)

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