The Angels of Emanuel AME


Drawn by Madeleine, age 7.

This drawing started at a quiet Mount Pleasant home with a simple yet difficult question by Madeleine: “Why is the world full of broken people?”

Melanie, the mother of two including young Madeleine, said while Madeleine asked a lot of questions about what happened Wednesday night, Madeleine’s twin sister Emma Kate talked very little about it.

“Why can’t the good people teach the bad people to be good?” Madeleine asked her mother, another question that seems simple to a 7-year-old mind but is anything but simple for an adult. “Just because someone is different doesn’t mean you have to do something bad to them.”

During the conversation, Melanie says her daughter also asked to see a picture of the church where the shooting happened. Madeleine also Googled instructions on how to draw an angel.

Her mother gave Madeleine photos of the nine victims.

“Madeleine wanted the Angels to be a good representation,” Melanie said.

So Madeleine armed with blank sheets of paper and crayons looked on the faces of the people killed — Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Sharonda Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Tywanza Sanders, and Myra Thompson — and started to draw.

Mother Emanuel AME Church stands large in the picture, taking up most of the page. Flying above are the nine slain church members, most holding a peace symbol or a heart.

Three have their arms outstretched, seemingly welcoming an embrace.

A Texas Woman ‘Voted Like a U.S. Citizen.’ Only She Wasn’t. – The New York Times

Her punishment may be unprecedented for an offense that often draws a minimal sentence or probation. Ms. Ortega, who has a seventh-grade education and a sometimes shaky grasp on the complexities of her life, has steadfastly insisted that she did not know she was violating the law — that she is being imprisoned and probably deported for the crime of being confused.

Ideology Is Always Personal

Many books written in the name of grand ideals, rigid ideology, whether about politics, economics, or religion, grind a personal axe. The sharp edges draw attention (people love blood, even when it is intellectually spilled!), and the evidence is abandoned for orthodox blows–in fact, fighting, by hand/weapon/or mind hasn’t changed much through the millennia; it abandons nuance, complex insights, cooperation, and important parallels for the unchanging purpose of the fight: power and submission, twins that are “right” by presumption of their victory.

These who love the fight are always on the look out for enemies, always looking to assert tautegorical existence, always in a state of outcry. They also seem to reject the issues of peace, the acceptance of unknowing uncertainty, and never admit to the possibility of being wrong.

I cannot respect nice people who oppress. I cannot find a way to accept that oppression as a part of a value system that argues it is a greater good. Kings did not have divine rights; manifest destiny was noble spin for cruelty and theft. The universe expands (science says). Those who reject it, who seek to narrow life by exclusion or through conflict stand in odds with the universe, and have missed its essential harmony, of which we are reminded of by its storms.

Looking pass the storm, the Euro focus of thought is a dying ember. It attracts those loyal to its burning coals. England once broke the church pews to feed its flames.

The Benedict Option


Mosque burning. April 2016.