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Doesn’t my Lord see all this?

President’s Blog
August 10, 2014

Doesn’t my Lord see all this? (Lamentations 3:36)

Early in the morning on July 18, 2014, I went to the curb to pick up the New York Times and saw the first photo showcased below. I was profoundly sickened and I have been haunted by it ever since.

My children are destroyed because the enemy was so strong (Lamentations 1:14)

 NYTimes headline


 Four brothers playing on a beach when a missile strike killed them.

 

israeli teenagers


Three Israeli teenagers who, while hitch hiking in the West Bank, were picked up on June 10, 2014, shot and then their bodies were burned in a car that was abandoned and found later.

 
 morgue


On July 20, 2014, a photo appeared of a medical examiner weeping in his morgue surrounded by the bodies of little children wrapped in various bags and cloths, children who were the casualties of war where there is suffering on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - a seemingly irreconcilable conflict.


 rikers island


At Rikers Island in New York, a culture of violence and bullying goes virtually unchallenged. Officers in charge of incarcerated adolescent boys have long been accused of unwarranted physical abuse and of covering each other’s backs with no accountability. Fear of reprisal has lead to unrestrained sadistic practices. We learned last week from an investigation that recent charges were dismissed – the testimony was inconsistent and contradictory.

 
 south korea


South Korean soldiers, over the period of a month, repeatedly beat 20-year old Private First Class Yoon until he died on April 6, 2014. The soldiers sought to toughen him up along with other young male soldiers so that they could more effectively engage (read “kill”) North Korean soldiers.

 

The nations said, “They can’t stay here any more . . .” (Lamentations 4:15)

 migrant children


Migrant children were flown to Arizona from Texas and Georgia, May 28, 2014. They are pouring into our southern borders, coming alone and coming with relatives who have been sent to what their loved ones in Mexico and Central America hope will be a better future.

 

Women have been raped . . . Your hurt is as vast as the sea.  Who can heal you?  (Lamentations 2:13; 5:11) 

 father weeping


On May 29, 2014, a father in Utter Pradesh weeps upon learning that his daughter and niece (ages 14 and 15) have been gang raped and hung up in mango trees after they went out into the fields one evening, with no other sanitation option, to use “the bathroom.” He is comforted by his mother.

 

I call on your name, Lord, from the depth of the pit.  Hear my voice.  (Lamentations 3:55)

 malaysian airlines


On July 17, 2014, Malaysian Airlines 17 was shot down by “terrorists” over Ukraine near the Russian border because it was believed that spies were on board. The plane was carrying a brain trust of HIV/AIDS scientists from Amsterdam headed to a scientific conference in Kuala Lumpur.

 

People wander blindly in the streets polluted with blood. (Lamentations 4:14)

 goose island shooting


On August 6, 2014, four men were wounded during the wee hours of the morning in a shooting at Goose Island Night Club. The gun violence in Chicago is rampant.


We are driven to lamentation.

There are unending daily photos and stories that depict all manner of human violence. They are always with us, but these weeks in particular have left me deeply stunned, again, at our inhumanity to each other, an inhumanity that simply does not remit. Please forgive me, my Wesleyan Arminian friends, when I say, “Calvin’s theology of total depravity takes on renewed meaning.”

The world is entirely DESPERATE for servant leadership, for prophetic voice, and for those who can recruit others to care for the least of these and who can advocate for justice and peace. Garrett-Evangelical and its graduates must participate in responding to the needs of the world and those who are right before us in our local communities. As public theologians we can work for the wellbeing of all and we can bring a word of Good News – even when it feels we are shoveling sand against the tide.    

For this moment, let us lament and plead together with the author of Lamentations,  “Return us, Lord, to yourself” (Lamentations 5:21), please.

Comments   

 
# Alva Caldwell 2014-08-12 01:24
Thank you, Lallene ,for a very powerful, prayerful expression connecting the book of Lamentations with the world of 2014. I remember as I am sure that you do as well when the faculty met for our annual fall retreat; it was scheduled for 911. Once we learned of the bombing of the towers we wondered what to do. It was our colleague, Dwight Vogel, who said something like, "We do not yet know who or what or why. So the one thing we can do is pray the laments." So the faculty lamented as the Psalms were read. Now you invite us to pray the laments again. I will join the GETS community in praying through the Book of Lamentations. Peace to all----Al Caldwell, class of 1969
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# Lallene Rector 2014-08-12 22:25
Thanks, Al, for recalling the faculty prayers and lamentation at its retreat on 9/11 - it made an impression on all of us who were there. The US and world news are so very sobering much of the time, and learning about Robin Williams' suicide yesterday reminds us that the surface of our lives does not always tell the story of unseen internal suffering. Sometimes, lamentation just seems the only and best response.
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# David Frenchak 2014-08-13 15:24
Lallene,
I too have lamented the horrible violence that not only permeates the news media but all too often visits us in our own sphere of life. It seems as if the spirit of empire has control, not only of nations but also individuals. the spirit of empire reflect the principalities and powers that we must fight against. A theology that is actively pursuing the reconciling spirit of God may be the only way those of us who call ourselves Christian can make a difference in a world possessed
by the spirit of empire
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# Osvaldo Vena 2014-08-17 10:28
Dear Lallene:
Thank you for your sensitivity to this most horrible situation our world is going through these days. I still have to think of a worse time during my life time and I can't really find one. I believe lament is the appropriate response. Lament and repentance. We all have to repent from participating in a system that has somehow allowed this to happen. We have lived comfortably all of these years doing an abstract theology and practicing a vainilla type of Christianity that has not impacted the world at large. It has only made us feel good, self righteous. Well, I believe the world needs more than that. As David says, it is the spirit of empire, so deeply ingrained in us, that needs to be destroyed. Are we going to have the courage to do this? It remains to be seen. I believe we need more than good intentions. We need a complete and total theological and ecclesial revolution.
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# Charlie Lehman 2014-08-24 12:27
Beautifully written and profoundly important. Thank you, Lallene.
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