THE call to choose the “beloved community” over chaos, in the wake of racial animosity in Charlottesville (News, 18 August), is not naïve, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Revd Michael Curry, has said.
In a recorded message published last week, Bishop Curry said that Christians must work towards reconciliation, and insisted that the alternative was “unthinkable”.
“I know that there may be a sense in which notions of the beloved community of God . . . may sound nice but naïve, maybe idealistic but unrealistic,” he said. “I have been around a while, and yet the truth is the beloved community is not just idealistic and it is not naïve. In the horror of what we have seen and experienced on the streets of Charlottesville — neo-Nazis shrieking hatred, racial supremacy . . . racial animosity, bigotry, bile — in those voices and those shrieks we have seen the alternative to the beloved community. And the alternative to the beloved community is unthinkable. We cannot, we must not, and we will not go there.”
He spoke of “a sense of darkness in our land”, and “new martyrs” such as Heather Heyer, killed when a man drove into counter-protesters in Charlottesville. He recalled the last book published by Martin Luther King, in 1967, a year of “racial tension and animosity”: Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or community?
The United States was again at a “moment of decision. . . I truly believe that Jesus of Nazareth has shown us the way, the way beyond the chaos to community.”
He concluded by recalling a song sung by slaves in the southern states, before the Civil War: “Walk together children, don’t you get weary, ’cos there’s a great camp meeting in the Promised Land.”