I’m upset with my town. R said it best: we’re built to handle certain crimes here. Most of them are quick and hot and motivated by money, which lets me say adorable little statements about how systems work together, and crime goes up when the economy goes down, and lets me score some points for my petty little worldview, like if social structures would just follow my lead, there would be an end to suffering and pain and yadda yadda. Pretty egotistical stuff. Pretty much ignoring that whole Kingdom of God thing.
This is different. Someone put someone in a wall. That’s not about desperation (at least in the conventional sense.) Someone found time to hide what they did away, and took what little dignity there might be left to this woman.
Part of my job at orientation was to assure new students that New Haven was wonderful and thriving, and maybe to be careful because, you know, it is a city and all. Ultimately, though, my message was that common sense would keep you safe here. I feel like I lied right now, and I feel like I was naive. I feel like I should have known that there was something senseless here, waiting. I’m not even slightly connected to this poor woman, and I feel… inadequate to the task of even being the vaguest hint of a sliver of a strand of what it would take to undo the kind of systemic nastiness that must be in the world to make this happen.
Reading this book, I was struck by Brueggemann’s point (as I understand it) about prophets and social activists: prophets aren’t interested in the reform of social systems (like activists are)… to pretend that the systems can be changed at all is to be co-opted by the “royal authority.” No, prophets want to imaginatively tear the whole thing down. Their imagination goes beyond some earthly dream of reform, and goes to the godly forming of the new way. I feel like we need to imagine harder right now, and I’m scared that I’m imagining as hard as I can, and it’s not working.