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Mourning is Political

Mourning is Political

Friends of victims comfort one another after the shooting in Orlando. Picture from  Reuters / Sunday, June 12, 2016

We can turn inward, tell ourselves that our grief is personal and should not be shared. We can mourn as if the pain will dissipate as time moves forward. But it never does. The grief of the murder of LGBT+ folks in Orlando recalls the slaughter of children in Sandy Hook, or of theater-goers in Aurora, or of the mobbing of African-Americans in East St. Louis. Each mass killing recalls another. To pretend like grief belongs only to a singular moment is to ignore the cries for justice rising up out of each other moment of grief.

Grief is a force for change.

Mourners hold signs during a vigil in D.C. Pircture from,  Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP/Getty Images

Mourning unites people in sadness and loss. It communicates a need for change, an acknowledgement of human complexity and suffering. And this moment is no different: it recalls the need to recognize the personhood of Muslims marginalized by hateful Western public discourse; this moment of grief recalls the Stonewall Inn raid; and of course, our grief calls out from and to every victim of gun violence in this country. Grief demands change.

Specifically, grief tells us that these divisions, these attempts to build walls between communities only ensures that we will forget our loss. And if we do forget, we will ignore the calls for justice mourning demands.

That moment of silence is empty.

But a moment of mourning is full, filled to the brim with the whispers, tears, and cries for justice for those we lost: they inhabit our grief. A moment of silence with the intent to return to daily life; that is empty. That prayer for peace cannot pray away the ghosts. Their spectral presence lurks in our suburban churches, and haunts our lazy Sunday afternoons.

Instead, the ghosts of the dead beg us to imagine a different type of prayer, a prayer of mourning. More than that: liturgies of mourning, scriptures of mourning, baptisms into mourning, and especially a Eucharist of mourning. In short, church with and for the dead; political church.


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