History and Myth
I've had a lot of disappointments in life. Like when Ifound out that Santa Claus wasn't real. I asked. I got the answer. I knew immediately I had made a big mistake. No more looking up the chimney. No more cookies and hot chocolate left on the hearth. No more waking my parents up in the dark on Christmas morning. No more rushing into the living room to see what the Big Guy left. I am depressed about it to this day. It ranks right up there with when my mother told me there are no women who are built like Barbie.
Then there was George Washington. He did not chopdown the cherry tree. He was not asked about it. He did not own up to it saying, "I cannot tell a lie." There were all those places he didn't sleep. It makes you wonder about all those drunken Hessians and his crossing the Delaware on Christmas night.
Now there is the case of Mike Brown who washonored yesterday in Ferguson on the one year anniversary of his death. Gentle Mike had graduated from high school and was planning on getting the training to learn the heating and air conditioning trade. This unarmed black teenager's life was cut short when he was confronted by a white policeman, who first ordered him out of the street, and then shot him dead. "Hands up! Don't shoot!" Yesterday they commemorated Mike's death beginning at 12:02 P.M., the time at which he was shot by observing 4 1/2 minutes of silence symbolic of the 4 1/2 hours his body lay in the street. We owe to Mike the whole "Black lives matter" movement that has had such salutary effects as making liberal Democrat Martin O'Malley having apologize for saying all lives matter making Socialist Bernie Sanders stop speaking at a rally because he was shouted down.
As it turns out there is the myth about Mike and the reality. Not long before he was killed he had strong armed a convenience store clerk for several packs of cigarillos. (Apparently no one was there asking, "cigars, cigarettes, Tiparillos?") The physical altercation began with Brown reaching inside the police cruiser where the first shot was fired. It continued as the officer pursued Brown on foot, and the 300 lbs. 18 year old turned and charged the officer. At that time the officer began firing. No bullets were found in the Brown's back.
But in such cases facts don't matter. Myths are truer than the facts. Myths serve causes.
It is sadly appropriate that the day ended with a street gun battle during which 40-50 shots were exchanged. When the police chased a suspect he fired into their van, and they returned fire. When the police got out of the van pursued him on foot, the suspect again shot at them. and they shot him. As of this writing the shooter is in critical condition (let us pray for his recovery), and St. Louis County is under a state of emergency.
Not to go all spiritual or anything, but not long after reading the newspaper report about the Mike Brown commemoration in Fergurson, I checked the Book of Common Prayer to see what are the Lessons for next Sunday. The Epistle (from which I will, DV, preach) is 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 where St. Paul gives the facts of the Gospel. Christ died. Christ was buried. Christ rose again. He adds a list of witnesses to the resurrection. Christianity is a religion of historical fact. If the facts are not true, Christianity is not true. Take down the facts, and Christianity tumbles down after. Myths will not do. Not even true ones. As St. Peter wrote about his witness to the Lord Jesus Christ: "For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Peter 1:16).