Sunday, February 17, 2008

Do This in Remembrance

I've just read on the internet that churches prayed today for the victims of the school shooting in Illinois. And, of course, it's fitting that they do so.

I wonder, though, how often churches remember the victims of incidents such as the one that took Lawrence King's life this week. Have churches prayed today for those who lose their life in hate crimes against LGBT people? Did they pray for Lawrence King's grieving family? Did they pray for the young man who took his classmate's life?

Do churches pray to be cleansed of prejudice against LGBT people? Do they pray that God will move the hearts and souls of church members to combat this form of social violence? Do churches pray to be forgiven of the violence they incite when they misuse the Bible as a weapon of hate against LGBT people, or when they speak of gay persons as intrinsically disordered? Do churches pray for the gift of repentance when they drive LGBT people out of their midst?

Remembering is at the very core of the church's calling in the world: Do this in remembrance of me.

Forgetting is all too easy. We inhabit a throwaway culture, which treats some of its citizens as throwaway people. Out of sight, out of mind. . . . Remembrance is a daring act, an act of rebellion against the status quo, one that commits us not merely to hold a person or event in memory, but to do something that commemorates the one we remember.

Do this in remembrance of me. Lawrence King deserves to be remembered. Matthew Shepard deserves to be remembered. These and so many other young lives obliterated or malformed by homophobia deserve the attention of a Christian community called to combat violence and hate, as it remembers a founder executed for his willingness to sit at table with the outcasts of his culture.

In fighting to remember, when so much tempts us to forget (out of sight, out of mind), we fight to construct more humane societies that will eventually make the kind of violence we witness in gay-bashing unthinkable.

In memory of Lawrence King, I'd like to share the following poem that I wrote after the sudden death of a young Dominican priest I hired to teach theology at Xavier University in New Orleans when I chaired that school's theology department two decades ago:

I try to keep you in my memory,

Old friend,

But each day your photo fades

One color more,

A picture in the lake,

Fraught to pieces by the rising of the wind.

In my heart I've carved a shrine,

Where red carnations vie with daffodils

To chant you to your rest.

But no one that we know

Comes now to worship there.

Pilgrim feet forsake the path

That leads to you.

The shade beside the road

Invites foot-weary travelers

Grown tired of sun and rain along the way.

And I, yes even I:

That shrine within my heart

Holds one blossom fewer every day.


colkoch said...

The Lawrence King story evoked incredible sadness and a lot of rage in moi. It's bad enough that homophobia engenders so many suicides in our youth, but now it somehow provokes a 14 year old to shoot another 14 year old.
This is not your normal school shooter scenario, a general acting out against everyone, this was specific in target and apparently for motive. How many more young kids need to give their lives before mainstream churches rethink their homophobia? How many young kids have to die before the closeted powerbrokers in Catholicism feel guilty enough to stop with their crusade of self interest?
Rest in Peace Lawrence King.

William D. Lindsey said...

Colleen, for me, too, what has happened to this young person evokes very deep sadness. We have all lost incalculably much through this senseless death. And I cannot imagine the loss his family is enduring.

I have just read that a website has been set up in memory of Lawrence King. It's at, and allows one to leave messages for his family and to make contributions to a memorial fund.

As I remember Lawrence King and commit myself to act to combat such violence, in memory of him, I am thinking of a person I know who has a gay son, but who has found it possible to do very cruel things to a series of gay folks in her life. I wonder how that is possible.

I hope that stories such as this will move parents who find themselves conflicted about affirming their gay children and the gay children of other parents can find a way to change their hearts.

I also hope that educators who pay lip service to tolerance, but who participate in cruel acts towards gay people (and I met several of these in my last job in a university) will experience a change of heart. These educators are preparing teachers who will go into increasingly diverse classrooms. The LGBT children whom their teachers encounter deserve to be loved, not to be bashed.

colkoch said...

Bill, I posted a comment on the NCR to our friend Marie. In it I maintained that one of the lights that needs to turn on in people's heads is that homophobia, because it's directed primarily at effiminate men, is in fact based in a deep mysoginy.
I do not understand why women don't see this. Do they think that gay bashing makes them one step closer to the top of the patriarchal power pyramid, or at least keeps them off the bottom rung?
I think the mother you spoke of in your blog subconciously is attempting to reassert the limited power and prestige she thinks her son has cost her by purposely seeking out and targeting gays. First to punish them in place of her son, and secondly to re-establish in her own mind her right to weild what power the male structure has given her. Believe me she's a true idiot, if she thinks she's earned her place. For whatever reason, she was given her place. Women, gays, and minorities are almost always given our place, and we hold those places as long as we don't rock the boat.

I found the memorial site for Lawrence King yesterday and stared at my computer screen for a long time. I didn't know what to say and posted the typical lame stuff. I couldn't get past my anger, and as a parent, I knew his family didn't need my anger. I also know my anger is masking a lot of grief. When does this bullshit end and when will people wake up to the real agendas?
And yes, Fred Phelps is the greatest thing that ever happened for the gay cause. A truly evil piece of work which makes even the gutless fence sitters squirm.