Thursday, June 12, 2008

Remembering Larry King on Anne Frank's Birthday

I went to bed yesterday evening wondering what is happening with the story of Larry King. He’s the fifteen-year old boy shot in the head in Oxnard, California, on 12 February this year. Because Larry King was openly gay, the classmate who killed him has been charged with a hate crime.

And then today, when I awoke and perused several blogs, I noticed that Waldo Lydecker’s Journal ( is reminding us that today would be Anne Frank’s 79th birthday, had she not died in the Holocaust.

Remembering: I’ve talked previously on this blog about how many religious traditions, including Christianity, incorporate the theme of remembrance into worship. To remember is, in the literal etymological sense of the word, to “re-member,” to put back together, to keep alive by bringing the pieces back together in some living way that commemorates the person being remembered.

Do this in memory of me: the central Christian ritual of the Lord’s Supper focuses on re-membering Christ, on breaking bread and wine to bring back together the pieces of Jesus’s life and ministry, his life broken and poured out for others, his ministry of constant self-giving to others. The link I probed in a recent posting between Communion and communion, between the ritual sharing of the Lord’s bread and the daily sharing of bread with each others, holds true as well for re-membering: we cannot adequately remember Jesus and the significance of his life if we do not commit ourselves to re-membering the body of Christ. We commit ourselves to be in communion as we receive Communion. If we do not do so, we betray the fundamental meaning of Communion.

Anne Frank was fifteen when she was murdered, just as Larry King was. We are able to remember her, to put the pieces of her life back together and allow that life to continue to move generations of people who live after her, because she refused to succumb to the verdict of those who told her that, as a Jewish girl, she was worthless.

Anne Frank defied that verdict by writing. Her diary says, “Who would ever think that so much can go on in the soul of a young girl?” When we read her diary and think of what happened to her—of a brilliant young intellect snuffed out by hate—it is impossible not to wonder about all the others whose voices we do not hear, since we do not have artifacts by which to remember those young lives. This recognition compels us to try to remember young people like Anne Frank and Larry King, since in their cases, we at least have something to go on in re-membering the pieces.

In the case of Larry King, we have some very precious pictures, the testimony of friends and family members, who remember him as a loving, creative young man of great promise. We commit ourselves to keep remembering. And in doing so, we commit ourselves to follow the advice of Anne Frank, who noted, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

To remember Larry King, to remember Anne Frank, is to commit ourselves to building a world in which hate is a less alluring option than struggling together in solidarity for the good of all.

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