A Hopeful Future Seen at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice 2013

If you want to get excited about the future of the Church, I recommend attending the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice next year, the annual event organized by the Ignatian Solidarity Network. This year’s event featured an array of interesting organizations, speakers, and break-out sessions. What impressed me most, however, was the remarkable group of students in attendance. Billy Kangas was also impressed:

These students were amazing! They were bright, passionate, engaged, informed, energetic and deeply committed to letting the love of Jesus spill out of them in both their personal lives and in our public policy. This weekend they inspired me, rejuvenated me, and showed me the face of Jesus over and over and over.

The students showed an exceptional passion for social justice. This surely must please those educators hoping to form men and women for others. Only at World Youth Day have I met so many inquisitive young people motivated by faith, searching for wisdom and truth, and dedicated to building a more just society.

Their passion for social justice was matched by a commitment to achieving real success and developing a thoughtful, sophisticated understanding of the issues that were being addressed. Not only the college students, but also the high school students, were asking incisive questions that showed they were not interested in simply regurgitating slogans and easy answers.

One asked about the impact of increasing the minimum wage on employment levels. Another asked about the efficacy of increased financial regulation at the state level, rather than the federal level, given the incentives associated with the “race to the bottom” phenomenon. They clearly were listening to the other side, determined to address the strongest arguments of those with whom they may have disagreed, instead of engaging in the type of behavior we too often see in DC: both sides talking past one another with closed minds rather than engaging in real dialogue (speaking from firm principles but with open minds).

The teach-in covered a wide range of issues including prison reform, peacebuilding, financial reform, environmental justice, human trafficking, racial justice, fair trade, and the death penalty. But the big issues that seemed to inspire the most energy and enthusiasm were immigration reform, workers’ rights, and food security.

I heard a young man from Brophy in Phoenix describe an idea for a video that would show how many unauthorized immigrants rely on those connected to the drug trade to get across the border and the dangerous consequences of this reliance. He wanted to show the human impact of various policies and explain reasonable measures that could be taken to fix some of these problems. He was hardly alone. Jesuit Refugee Service’s Mary Small delivered a speech on immigration reform that seemed to draw the largest reaction from the crowd. Students were aware that this is an issue at the forefront of the national agenda and that now is the time to really press for comprehensive immigration reform, which is exactly what they did on the day dedicated to advocacy efforts.

Another issue that captured the attention of many students was food security with cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) looming. Belief in the Catholic teaching that each person has a fundamental right to food was pervasive. Unrepresentative stories about corruption were not. Nor were students grossly overestimating the amount of foreign aid dedicated to ensuring food security and other essential needs, as is the case with the general population. They understood the issue and wanted to see how they could make a difference and help ensure that everyone has access to that most basic need.

Students also shared stories of the exploitation they had witnessed and experienced as workers in a country where employers are too often able to exploit their employees with impunity. They described workers being cheated out their wages and working extra hours without pay, the difficulties of living on a non-living wage, and the lack of security and consistency that exists in people’s lives when workers have schedules that fluctuate and require them to be on-call.

What was truly inspiring was the clear connection between their faith and this commitment to justice. There was a strong sense of community and joy as all joined together in communion for the mass. Their faith was real and vivifying, giving them meaning and purpose.

The fight for justice is long and hard, filled with inevitable setbacks and disappointments. We can only hope that these students’ educators help to equip them with not only a sense of justice that is durable but also a faith that is enduring, and that events like the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice will build a sense of community that will fortify their sense of the interdependency of faith and justice.

And from what I saw over a week ago, there is good reason to hope. While they gathered to “illuminate the horizon of hope” in a stormy world, beams of hope surely illuminated some of their own souls. In looking outside themselves, they saw a clearer picture of their authentic personalities as children of God, craving communion, experiencing joy, and finding meaning in helping to build the Kingdom of God. It is perhaps this hope that should make us the most hopeful about the future of the Church.


Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

CCHD: Putting the Gospel into Practice by John Gehring: “At a time when 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty and extreme income inequality is growing, a contribution to C.C.H.D. is a powerful way to affirm Catholic identity and empower those struggling to lift themselves out of difficult situations.”

“Getting” Pope Francis, or Not by Michael Sean Winters: “Here, too, we see the greatest point of continuity between Pope Francis and his two immediate predecessors, both of whom, in different ways, were rooted in the Communio school of theology we associate with the Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar. The Christian proclamation is first and foremost about God and His accomplishments and only consequently about us and our obligations, moral and otherwise.”

The Christian Intellectual by R.R. Reno: “Love and freedom. There’s nothing uniquely Christian about these qualities in an intellectual. Socrates had both. But grace perfects nature and helps us overcome our weaknesses. The Christian intellectual may not be welcome today as a Christian, but it’s as a Christian that he can be salt and light.”

TJP Sits Down with Coach John Beilein by Dennis Baker, SJ: “I do the Examen all the time during the season.  That helps me put things into perspective—how grateful I should be for the life I’ve been blessed with.  Sometimes I write my Examen down with my iPad.  I have pages and pages and pages during the season.  So I think it’s just the overall appreciation of understanding your purpose in life, understanding God’s will for you.”

The Triumph of C.S. Lewis By Fr. Robert Barron: “He was not someone to whom religious conviction came naturally or effortlessly; he had to work his way to it, in the face of often harsh opposition, both interior and exterior. This very personal struggle gives him credibility with the millions today who want to believe but who find ideological secularism and militant atheism enormously challenging.”

When Children Are Traded by Nicholas Kristof: “A first step to address this issue would be to make adoption agencies responsible for children they bring to America, including finding new homes when adoptions fail. If we have rules about recycling bottles, we should prevent children from being abandoned and recycled. The larger point is a more basic failing in America: inadequate child services. Kids don’t get the protection they need from predators, nor the nutrition they need, nor the books and reading programs they need for mental nutrition. The threat to the food stamp program, whose beneficiaries are 45 percent children, is emblematic of this broader problem. Children don’t have votes and are voiceless, so America’s most vulnerable become its most neglected.”

The GOP’s Cruel Crusade Against Food Stamps by Norm Ornstein: “I would love for all sides to find common ground here: Provide the kind of job training that will enable people to find work and move out of poverty while helping them with the basics of food, shelter, health care, and transportation. But to cut, slash, and burn that aid mindlessly without regard for the human cost is stupid, cruel, and reprehensible.”

Father Albert Foley: How one priest took on the KKK by Kristen Hannum: “Everything changed for Foley in 1943, when, as a young Jesuit, he was assigned to teach the class ‘Migration, Immigration, and Race’ at Spring Hill College in Mobile. His research—which included interviewing local black Catholics and wide-ranging reading—opened his eyes: Segregation was sinful. He looked to the church fathers and social justice teachings to better understand his new realization and to discern what should be done.”

The Habit of Gratitude and Hopefulness by Christopher C. Roberts: “We are praying that a good community of peers will be in place when they become teens. And we are trying, gently for now, to prepare our girls for being different from the surrounding culture in sometimes uncomfortable ways. I hope for the moment that we’re laying in the spiritual and psychological resources to see us through whatever’s coming.”

Now and Then I Feel It’s Working by J. Peter Nixon: “There is always a temptation as a parent to think that your children are clay that you are called to shape. The truth is that we are merely stewards of something precious that ultimately belongs to God. If he can call a prodigal like me back to him, he can certainly do the same for my children if he so chooses. In the end, faith is his gift to give, not mine.”

How Children Succeed: You Should Read This by Jason King: “We need grit to be able to confront sin—personal, social, and original sin—and keep going.  We need grit, but we also do not develop it by ourselves.  We need a community that is safe enough for us to develop trust and confidence in our decisions and actions.  We also need a community that fosters vulnerability, one not closed off to adversity, not closed off to others.  We need the Church to help us become disciples who perpetually pickup our crosses and follow Christ.”

The pope is forcing us to redefine ugliness by Benjamin W. Corn: “Because our aesthetic standards are arbitrary, our definitions of beauty have shifted slightly, over time, to encompass, for example, anorexic-appearing fashion models with little resemblance to the shapeliness of Botticelli’s Goddess of Beauty. There is one vital point in that dynamic: the arbitrary—including our ideas of what is beautiful, ugly, visually acceptable, or socially stigmatizing—can change. And each of us can contribute to that change.”

In Central African Republic, thousands turn to bishop for protection by Barb Fraze, CNS: “More than 35,000 people are living on the 40-acre diocesan compound in Bossangoa, Central African Republic, seeking protection from rebels who are targeting Christians, said the local bishop.”


Finding Inspiration with the Ignatian Family

After spending a weekend at #IFTJ13 all I can say is “wow!” The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice 2013 was an inspiring event. I hadn’t heard of it until recently, so I’ll assume many of you don’t know about it either. It’s a gathering of mostly young college and high school students from Jesuit institutions that happens every year. During the Teach-in, these young people pray together and learn together about how to work for justice in the world. The speakers were inspiring, but the students were even more so!

These students were amazing! They were bright, passionate, engaged, informed, energetic and deeply committed to letting the love of Jesus spill out of them in both their personal lives and in our public policy. This weekend they inspired me, rejuvenated me, and showed me the face of Jesus over and over and over.

As Bread for the World’s resident Catholic conspirator, I was given the opportunity to put a team together to hang out with hundreds of these amazing young people who are looking to explore what it means to be an active Catholic with a public voice. We were able to do a number of sessions, covering how to create a “Circle of Protection” around essential safety net programs here in the United States, and on how providing proper nutrition for children and mothers from the beginning of pregnancy until a child’s second birthday is essential for preventing disease, improving education and overall health, and ultimately saving lives. These 1000 days are key! On Monday, we gathered at the Capitol building for prayer, praise, and advocacy meetings with our congressional representatives, where students went out and challenged policy makers to pass comprehensive immigration reform, protect food security programs, and establish a living wage.

Here are the five takeaways I received from the conference:

  1. They gave me three great questions to ask myself every day: 1) With whom do you cast your lot? 2) From whom do you draw your strength? 3) Whose are you? If I could ask myself those questions FIRST before I face any challenge I think I would be a much stronger person.
  2. They helped me understand justice better. One thing that really stuck out to me was the idea that justice is God’s public love. As a person whose faith is the foundation of my work for justice, I found that this definition resonated strongly with my own experience of working for justice as a person of faith.
  3. They taught me that some Catholics actually CAN sing. Let me be honest for a second. I love being a Catholic, I really do… but I miss the singing of my Protestant background. I can’t tell you how sad it is to go to mass and see some of the greatest examples of the Church’s hymnody butchered by the typical throng of Catholics that seems to feels put upon to mumble or hum through songs that demonstrate the great work of redemption we now participate in Christ. This group was different. They sang, they clapped, they cheered– it was wonderful!
  4. They made me wish there was a third order for Jesuits. This group was awesome… and I felt SO at home with them. Conference speaker Fr. Jim Martin articulated what it meant to be a Jesuit powerfully as someone who knows deeply how loved they are by God, and wants to share that love with others. That is who I want to be.
  5. The most important thing I walked away with was hope. The media is filled with stories that condemn this young generation as lazy, unmotivated, and unwilling to speak up to change the systems that keep people hungry and poor. This group, and those like it, are proof that their generation is not only engaged but immensely creative with their activism. Take a look at some of the messages these students posted on their representative’s twitter pages as part of our social media campaign!

It was great to be there.


Around the Web

Check out these recent articles from around the web:

Tea Party vs. the Common Good by Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter: “The individualism that is such a part of the American psyche has developed into something deeply pernicious, a denial of the possibility of the nation coming together, in the form of government action, to promote the common good.”

Could Pope Francis make women cardinals? A pipe dream, and an opening by David Gibson: “Pope Francis has said repeatedly that he wants to see greater roles for women in the Catholic Church, and some argue that he could take a giant step in that direction by appointing women to the College of Cardinals – the select and (so far) all-male club of ‘Princes of the Church’ that casts secret ballots in a conclave to elect a new pope.”

Everything Is Yours by Annie Selak: “Every act of self-gift becomes an act of bringing God into the world. As a result, the faithful are continually giving to the world and building the kingdom of God, renewing the church.”

Sr Eugenia Bonetti wins EU award for anti-trafficking work by Vatican Radio: “Italian Consolata Sister Eugenia Bonetti, a driving force in the fight against trafficking and prostitution, was among the recipients of the European Citizen’s Prize 2013.”

Paradise Lost by Anna Nussbaum Keating: “In a culture that values individualism and personal choice, we have forgotten that we are social animals, interdependent from conception, and that our relationships and communities, to a large extent, determine the quality of our lives.”

Pope’s Address to the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization: “No one is excluded from the hope of life, from the love of God. The Church is sent to reawaken this hope everywhere, especially where it is suffocated by difficult existential conditions, at times inhuman, where hope does not breathe but is suffocated.”

Project Gubbio at St. Boniface: sanctuary of sleep by Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle: “The Rev. Tommy King, pastor at St. Boniface for nearly two years, said the church’s congregation doesn’t mind homeless people sleeping in its pews during the day since the church would otherwise sit empty, save for the first few pews reserved for those coming to pray. The family of a recently deceased parishioner even agreed to allow the homeless people to keep sleeping while it held a funeral service at the front of the church – complete with 150 mourners and a full choir.”

Pope Francis Lays Out 4-Point Plan by Greg Erlandson: “What excites many and disturbs some is simply that the Pope seems to be living this agenda. In word and in deed, he is inviting those who do not know Christ to “let God search and encounter” them. And to those who call themselves Catholic, he is challenging us that if we claim to be disciples, we had better get out there and meet the world.”

Open the Doors by Karen Gargamelli: “Although the number of women religious is dwindling, they remain the lifeblood of our church, and their convents are holy and fertile ground for new communities of faith. My suggestion: Keep the convents. Open the doors to lay people. Welcome migrants and the homeless.”

Assad regime snipers targeting unborn babies by The Telegraph: “Snipers belonging to the Assad regime in Syria are shooting pregnant women and their unborn babies in a disturbing “game” of target practice, a British surgeon has claimed.”

‘Super nun’ in Congo helps victims of Lord’s Resistance Army by CNN: “Sister Angelique Namaika has been recognized for her extraordinary humanitarian work with victims of atrocities committed by members of the Lord’s Resistance Army, the militant group led by African warlord Joseph Kony.”


Putting Our Trust in God: Giving up on Justice or the Source of Real Hope?

As I watched Melissa Harris Perry’s coverage of the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, a former Bronx prosecutor lamented Trayvon Martin’s family’s statement that “they put their trust in God.” She interpreted this as a signal of hopelessness and giving up. But as I watched Trayvon Martin’s cousins standing outside of their missionary Baptist Church, I didn’t see resignation or hopelessness – but hope in something quite different.  Yesterday morning, as all the news shows were debating the procedures, successes, and failures of our legal system, the Trayvon Martin family offered us a glimpse into what gives them hope – God. In Hebrews 11, we get the famous definition of faith as “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (11:1)  In the context of justice, this requires the believer to take a long view of history, be patient, and be persistent….it also does not allow the believer to give up and resign herself to the brokenness of our world.

Hope in the face of injustice is a struggle.   This past month, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on hope and justice. Every time I turn on the news, there is another blow. The Supreme Court strikes down a key element of the Voting Rights Act, almost as if declaring by judicial judgment “we’re past that,” in the face of strong evidence of patterned attempts to restrict voting in the last election. Furthermore, as if pouncing on the moment, multiple states began work on new Voter ID laws.  As the Zimmerman jury deliberated, the Iowa Supreme Court reaffirmed their ruling that women can be fired simply because their boss finds them attractive and therefore a temptation. After ten years of exemplary work, the dental hygienist in question was fired because she was just too attractive and therefore the dentist viewed her as a threat to his marriage. In the face of ample indisputable evidence that the United States Military structure is unwilling or unable to take seriously the epidemic of sexual assault and harassment of both men and women – the United States Congress decided NOT to remove decisions from the military chain of command (despite testimony after testimony of victims that the chain of command was an active part of the problem). And yet, I do believe that the arc of history bends towards justice, why? Because of my faith in God. Far from being a sign of resignation – that hope is what propels me to relentlessly pursue justice, name social sin, and go after its deep seeded roots.

In his essay “Justice in the Bible,” Fr. Richard Clifford, SJ  identifies “three major ‘founding moments’ in the Bible, for in them the standard of divine justice is especially clear: the origin of the world in Genesis 1-11, the origin of Israel in the Book of Exodus, and the origin of New Israel in the Gospels.”

In the Genesis narrative, God is revealed as both generous and just. These chapters show God “acting justly” or righteously, unlike other gods of the near east. Clifford challenges those who interpret Gen 1-11 pessimistically focusing on sin, “Jewish tradition can instruct us here, for it has generally focused on the transmission of the blessing in the face of human resistance to receiving it.” Ultimately, Clifford interprets the Genesis passages which state that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26-7, 5:1, 9:6) as providing the foundation for social justice. All human persons are created in the image and likeness of God, a reverence that he notes was often only offered to kings.

The 2nd founding moment is the Exodus narrative:

“The Exodus is not only the “going out” from Egypt, but the whole narrative of the oppression of the Hebrews, God’s defeat of Pharaoh their oppressor, and the journey to Sinai, where they agree to be God’s people and accept his covenant and law.”

And here we find the crux of the hope in God in the face of injustice – throughout Scripture we are reminded that God hears the cries of the poor, the victim, the oppressed, the widows/orphans, the resident aliens mistreated. Where the human justice system is flawed, because it is created by and administered by fallible human persons, God’s justice ultimately prevails.  So what do we learn about God’s justice from Exodus:

“The misery of the poor Hebrews is expressed in terms of economic exploitation and social degradation (Dt 26). According to Exodus 1-6, it is system-related and produced by human malice. God addresses the evil in a new and unexpected way. Instead of alleviating the Hebrews’ distress through the time-honored means of giving to the poor, Israel’s God Yahweh removes the slaves from the impoverishing situation; he leads them out from the Egyptian system. God’s work here is a new creation.

What is created is a society having all the usual institutions of a nation of that time: a God (with a house), a leader, a land, and laws. But because Israel has been liberated from Pharaoh and led out from Egypt, it becomes, in the phrase of Lohfink, a “contrast-society.” Because it is different from the nations, it becomes something for them to watch–a model. The point is succinctly and memorably made in Exodus:”You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, / how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. / Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, / you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. / Yes, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be my priestly kingdom and a holy nation” (19:3-6).

Israel agrees and God forms their society. Israel, shaped by the just God, will show the nations God’s generosity and power. The holy community has a mediating role regarding divine justice.”

And yet we know, the people mess up constantly. They break the covenant.  They oppress the widows and orphans. They worship false idols. Despite all of that, God does not give up on them. God remains faithful…calling them to repentance through sending the prophets.

All of this points us to the 3rd founding moment of justice in the Bible – Jesus.  Clifford beautifully summarizes:

“Jesus’ work is the third of those founding moments when God’s justice is on clear and compelling display. That’s why Christians study the New Testament! There are many contemporary implications of the justice of the New Testament, but let me single out three points: (1) Jesus’ solidarity with the poor and his bringing those at the margin (including women) to new roles, especially in Luke (note that Jesus actually associates with poor people and does not simply talk about them!); (2) the New Testament underlines the eschatological dimension of justice, telling us that the work of justice one does in one’s lifetime is linked somehow to the just world that God will build in the future; (3) the most provocative legacy, however, may be the powerful analogy it provides for interpreting our world: the just God liberates people from oppressors or false gods, and forms them into a just community.”

And so we are called to be a just community. Fr. Bill Daley (Notre Dame), also a guest on MHP, lamented the vision of community and communion in which to go out one must strap on a concealed weapon. Acccording to Fr. Daley, here we see the fundamental brokenness revealed by George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin.  It is a community of fear and suspicion. It is not the community of the Good Samaritan from Sunday’s Gospel.  Building this community, the demand is clear:

“let justice roll down like waters,   and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)

This is the call, the challenge. As a social ethicist, I love the prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and of course Amos. The prophets are all human – they struggle with their calling, they don’t want to be prophets. Acutely aware of their own unworthiness, but ultimately, they cannot run from who they are….created by a God who is committed to history and to justice. In discipleship, however, we are all called to be prophets laboring for justice.  Like the Samaritan stopping to aid an injured man, this comes with risk – we must make ourselves vulnerable and we must see our neighbor as first and foremost another equal human person. Fences and walls are easier – they give the illusion of protection. What they cannot give us is a just community.

Achieving the just community requires constant labor and vigilance – as the recent VRA decision reminds us. In the face of deep injustice and structural violence, this labor is sustained by our hope not in the civil justice system by itself but in God’s justice as the ultimate horizon. And it is in that hope, the hope of the Martin family, I do not hear resignation to injustice but a foundation from which, in the face of tragedy and injustice,  to “live justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8)

This article is also featured on Catholic Moral Theology.


A Marathon of Emotions

Mike Rogers is a better person than me.  I’ve never met him before, and if I was to trip over him I still wouldn’t have a clue who he was.  Still, when I read his open letter to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, I couldn’t help but contrast his thoughts with mine and wish that my reaction to Dzhokhar’s capture was more like his.

My friends and family were on the way to the finish line to greet me when the bombs went off.  No one I know directly was hurt, thanks be to God.  Deacon Rogers’ parents and sister, on the other hand, were already there on Boylston St.  He had friends on their way.  One of his former students was injured.

As I’ve said before, when it dawned on me that my family could have been injured in the attacks, like Deacon Rodgers’ student was, “I really got pissed off and let off another string of words not repeatable here.”  He, on the other hand, prayed that Dzhokhar may “come to know… peace and love.”

That, I must admit, was not my first reaction when the younger Tsarnaev brother was finally pulled out of that boat.  Or even my second, or third.  Instead, my first thought was that I wanted to be a part of the jubilation and celebration that so bewildered Marcus.

After 14 hours spent in my living room in which my only company was the chattering heads of television news, I wanted to get out and make merry with my fellow Bostonians.  As The Onion so aptly put it, “what could only be described by witnesses as the goddamned week to end all soul-crushing weeks” was finally over, and I could think of few better reasons to raise a toast.

Texts started flying just as soon as the words “suspect in custody” came across the airwaves, and off to meet up with some friends I went.  We ended up at a pub near Northeastern University, but not before witnessing the ebullient mob of students who had shut down Hemenway Street with their revelry.  The joy they were radiating was palpable, and that was before they all hit the bars.

So while Marcus makes some excellent points about the need to be careful in our rhetoric, I do not share in his confusion over the urge to congregate.  A terrorist who killed and maimed hundreds of people was captured, and a day-long region-wide siege had come to a successful conclusion.  That’s not worth three cheers, that deserves 30.

We are, as Aristotle noted so long ago, social animals.  We gather together to comfort one another when there is affliction, to rejoice when there is cause for gaiety, and even for no other reason than because being part of a community is an essential part of being human.  Were the multitudes who spontaneously gathered that night all that different than when we as Catholics come together for a baptism, or a funeral, or even just the weekly celebration of the Mass?

I’m not suggesting that it would be appropriate to drape yourself in the flag, or to hoist your girlfriend up onto your shoulders to lead a rendition of the national anthem in the middle of a liturgy.  On that night, in these circumstances, however, I see it as not only perfectly acceptable, but actually cathartic.

It was a week of anger and sadness, and for all too many a day of fear when SWAT teams armed to the teeth rushed past their children as they searched their homes.  The cheers, chants, and songs that could be heard all over Boston that night were really just a way to take a collective deep breath and to release some of the emotions that pent up over the course of the previous 102 hours.

Even after the lustration of clinking glasses with friends and strangers alike, I’m still incredibly frustrated, more frustrated than I have any right to be given the events of that day, that my first marathon was cut short at 25.5 miles.  I was so close to that blue and yellow line, yet, as I force myself to remember, I was literally worlds away from those who died.

I grieve for the loss of an 8-year old I never knew, and for the others killed by these two brothers.  I can’t imagine the anguish those who had limbs torn off are experiencing, or the pain of those who were hit with shrapnel.  I even feel a little guilt at my relief that my family and friends are OK, when those of so many others are not.

As each day passes though, what I increasingly feel is hope.  Hope that comes from seeing people like my sister run to the victims instead of running away to safety.  Hope that sprang from the spontaneous memorial that popped up at the corner of Boylston and Berkeley and the interfaith service held there on the following Sunday.  Even a popular Boston-based website that often caters to the worst of the collective male Id sold some wicked awesome t-shirts and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the victims.  That’s good news for everyone.

I especially have hope knowing that there are people like Deacon Rodgers in the world.  How could you not be hopeful knowing that there are people out there who can find love in their hearts even for those who have caused so much pain and sorrow?

I don’t hate Dzhokhar.  I’m angry at him, I’m relieved he will likely be spending the rest of his days behind bars, and I’m glad that I got to celebrate with so many of my fellow Bostonians the night he was captured.  I even pity him, I guess, but I don’t love him. At the same time, I am jealous that Deacon Rodgers does.

In the closing of his letter to Dzhokhar, the good deacon says, “Somehow your sin was turned for good, and my community and the people I love will only be stronger in the end.”  I hope, and pray, that he is right.