Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Sunday, January 17, 2016


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

Anna Gerau of the “Indiana Daily Student” at Indiana University wrote an excellent article in the Jan. 15 edition of that newspaper about the great but forgotten Negro Leagues baseball player, George Shively, and the efforts of famed sports writer, Bob Hammel, and local business people Kathy and Steve Headley, and stone carver Casey Winningham, and IU employee Sally Gaskill, to try to right wrongs of more than a century ago. [1]

Shively grew up in Bloomington. When he was ten, members of the KKK, “white cappers,” in the wee hours where cowards lurk, hauled several members of his family, men and women, out of their home and beat them with barbed wire. The police were called but left when the KKK told them to do so. [1]

Shively had a great baseball career but was forgotten, even in his home town, buried, along with the others of his family, in unmarked graves. Until Hammel, whose memory and sense of justice are legendary, got into the act, and with Gaskill raised money for a stone. Casey Winningham did the carving gratis.

[Anna Gerau tells this story better than I do. Here is the link to the article:

“If you want to know where the action is, look for the reaction.” Saul Alinsky

Most of the money for the stone came from Steve & Kathy Headley. Kathy’s grandfather was one of those white-cappers. She held hands with Shively’s descendants at the gravestone unveiling and said, “I hope my grandfather is turning over in his grave.”

It took a century, but people of justice try to right injustice regardless of its timing. It is said that the arc of history bends toward justice. I hope that is true. I think that Kathy Headley, and the others in this story, providing the “reaction” of Alinsky’s statement, are evidence of that.

So as the world becomes more polarized-politically, religiously, racially, economically-I don’t worry as much as I would, for the actions of political and religious extremists contain the seeds for their own destruction. They are calling forth reactions from others who realize that they must react in order to make that arc of history bend toward justice, who are beginning to understand that it is not enough to put band-aids on the wounds caused by the extremists, but that it is necessary to keep them from hurting and wounding in the first place.

Extremists destroy their own causes, for in their self-righteous arrogance, they always go too far. In doing so, they awake the slumbering giant of justice.

John Robert McFarland

1] A hero, more or less, of this story is then-governor Winfield Durbin, who was disgusted by the lack of police action and suggested that the absence of justice in Bloomington might make him pull IU out of Bloomington. Under the threat of economic sanctions, the culprits were finally arrested.

I hope I have not misled by using the image of history’s arc. The arc of history does not bend toward justice by itself. We can’t sit back and say, “Oh, we’re okay. The arc of history is bending in the right direction.” Reactors have to push against the extremist actors to make that arc bend. Matthew 25:31-46.

I tweet as yooper1721.

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