19 Apr 5 Friyays: April 19
Good morning everyone! Dr. Donnelly here with the Friyay duty this week, and this is a somber one. Not only because, liturgically, this is a somber day as Christians around the world commemorate the crucifixion of Christ, but also because of some truly horrible news that came out in Northern Ireland last night and today. I’ll get into both of those things more, but first a quick few articles that I found this week which I think are worth your time.
Jane Haining, Unsung Hero
Missionaries get a lot of hate – and it’s often deserved, but not always. Such is the case with a story I read this week of Jane Haining. To quote from the Mighty Girl website, “Haining, who worked as a matron at a school run by the Church of Scotland, also helped many Jewish Hungarians and refugees emigrate to Britain during the war. She remains one of few Scottish people honored as one of the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for her aid to Jewish people during the Holocaust, and is believed to be the only Scottish person to die in one of the Nazis’ concentration camps.”
In this week where a lot of news feels overwhelming, it’s good to remember that throughout history, there have been people quietly and bravely loving others in the face of terrible tyranny.
Racism in Football (Soccer)
My beloved Liverpool Reds are finishing the season strong – we’re currently in first place in the championship run of our home league and in the semifinals of European wide league we also play in. Football has been waking up to the embedded problem of racism within its ranks and the ranks of its fans over the past decade, but the bravery of Man City player Raheem Sterling has accelerated the conversation.
I really appreciated this article in the Guardian where readers shared their own experiences. It broadens the narrative in a helpful way, while also reminding us that we have so much more work to do to make the beautiful game beautiful for everyone.
Ladies Scripting Drama
The Pulitzer Prizes were handed out this week, and for the third consecutive year, a female playwright won the top prize for drama. Jackie Sibblies Drury’s “Fairview” is a reported tour de force (I did not get to see it during its limited run in SoHo last summer) and a meditation on representation, race, and identity in the U.S. The last dude to win the prize was our beloved Lin-Manuel Miranda for Hamilton, which he nabbed in 2016.
And now… for a bit of a turn…
Last night, during riots in the Creggan neighborhood in Derry/Londonderry, 29-year-old journalist and superstar human Lyra McKee was shot dead. She was there covering the riots and those responsible for both the riot in general and her murder in particular are essentially saying she was mistaken for a police officer – their true targets. Northern Irish police officers uniforms are distinctive and their riot gear even more so, so I buy that excuse zero percent. Riots are chaotic and eyewitness accounts are that a masked gunman shot into a crowd, so careful planning was not the order of the day here. Personal ownership of guns is illegal in Northern Ireland, for those unaware, so any action by the police to seize those guns was clearly warranted.
I had the privilege of chatting to Lyra on several occasions while I was working on my PhD. Many of our professional interests overlapped and I found her to be wise, generous, witty, thorough, and passionate. The tributes pouring in around the internet about her this morning echo my sentiments and the loss to both Northern Irish journalism and to her family are staggering. (This is one of my favorite pieces of hers, on suicide rates among young people in Northern Ireland.)
The people who carried out this attack – whose organizational name will not appear on this site – emphatically do not represent the interests of the greater Northern Irish people. Every statistic and anecdotal evidence we have accumulated over the past decade show that the people of those six counties do not want to go back to “the bad times”. The actions of last night are right out the playbook of those bad times, and Erin and I add our voices in grief and frustration over them.
Since the Brexit vote, Northern Irish people (and external scholars and experts) have been warning the U.K. and Irish governments that the “peace” is always on a knife’s edge. The U.K. government, heretofore, has not demonstrated a grasp of that concept. The same can be said for several of the major parties in Northern Ireland, who collapsed the government over two years ago over unwillingness to compromise. So all eyes turn to those who unilaterally condemned the actions of last night – it’s time to put work behind the sentiments. Peace is an active entity – built and torn down with each breath. Time’s up on foot dragging, let’s get to work.
Thoughts on Good Friday
This is the day set aside in the Christian calendar to remember the crucifixion of Christ. While there is a lot of debate within my faith system about what it means and what happened that day – we agree that it happened. My strand believes the act was to demonstrate that the ultimate calling of a disciple of Christ is to be willing to sacrifice for those you love and for the greater good. It’s a very Captain America kind of vibe.
I’ve been actively commemorating this day for about three decades and my practices and theology around it have shifted. What has not is how often I think about grief. There’s a saying popularized by Tony Campolo that “we are Good Friday Christians, but Sunday’s coming” – meaning that we live in grief and confusion, but we know the glory of resurrection is on the way.
The folks who did life with Jesus did not know that. And I need to be honest, there are days I don’t know it either. I think about the women who stayed at that cross until he was taken down from it – bearing witness to tragedy through their presence. I think about the dudes who got the hell out of there – for their grief was too heavy to bear in public. I think about the confusion and fog of misery that settles on this day.
For three years, the group had been doing life with this guy. They had watched him accept outsiders, love strangers, feed children, speak to women, and change their entire understanding of leadership. And then, within less than 24 hours, he was dead. And nothing made sense any more.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
My hope for you is that you’re not in a season where nothing makes sense, but I have a feeling many of you are. A child is sick, a parent is dying, the finances aren’t adding up, the career isn’t working, the dreams are withering on the vine. This life you planned isn’t working out and you’re bewildered and grieved and angry.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I refuse to offer platitudes, to you or the disciples. This all sucks and I am so sorry it’s now part of your story. I hold space for you here to be confused. To stare at your version of a wrongly convicted, crucified carpenter you’ve dedicated your life to and say to the universe, “Well… what the heck happens now?”⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Finally, I gently remind you that if your life makes sense, the lives of those around you might not. Be gentle with them, will you? And maybe make a casserole?
That’s it from me on this bleary day. Dr. Hinson will be back next week with a decidedly different vibe, I’m sure, as I head to D.C. to take part in a conversation about the importance of protecting religious freedom within the U.S. See you all next time!