History Told Rightly

burningcrossby Stephen Ray

We must remember history rightly for the sake of our children. I suspect that the events of Charlottesville, VA in these past few days will be remembered by history as the opening salvo in the long-simmering prelude to the conclusion of the Civil War. We have been taken by history to the precipice from which we plunge either into the night of the worst demons of our history and malice or alight to the bright horizons of our better angels.

The battle to which we are joined is one for the soul of this nation and because of our global power the fate of the world. Ours is not a battle for simple political ideology or economic gain, although they each have their part. No. This struggle is a battle for nation and a world in which humans can simply be persons; who can simply live; and have lives worthy of the abundance of God’s gift of life and wondrous creation. Where the first part of this war called to battle mighty armies fighting for freedom, today we fight for the recognition of human dignity and worth in every sphere of our public life.

As with every skirmish in this long running war with evil we have suffered heartbreaking casualties. Heather Heyer joins that great cloud of witnesses to truth which includes the Saints of Mother Emmanuel and so many more. It is to them that we owe the debt of history told truthfully and well. More, we owe it to each generation yet to come who will ask “who are we?” to narrate our part in this struggle so that they may find the courage to fight the mesmerizing power of the night and struggle on to that brighter day.

To tell the story of the events of Charlottesville, VA on August 11th and August 12 of 2017, is to tell the story of sheroes and the heroes who placed their bodies on the line for the dream that America yearns to be. To tell the story of these days as the narrative of darkness seeking to blot out the sunshine and promise of tomorrow is to finally give evil the victory. Much as a story of the beginnings of this struggle so many years ago which is truthfully told must be that of those who gave the last full measure so that the memory of freedom might not perish from this earth, so, the story we tell must be of those who stood against the night and not those who heralded it by torch lit parades of hate.

Rev. Dr. Stephen G. Ray, Jr., serves as the Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher professor of systematic theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He is also the author of Do No Harm: Social Sin and Christian Responsibility


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