Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Memorial Service aka where's that speck?

I recently read a blog, which was nicely done, out of Washington DC talking about the tone of the memorial service at McKale. The author was concerned about what it showed about our society at large as far as piety.

I gave my insight:

First of all, love your blog. It’s awesome. Second, I’m from Tucson so if I may, I’d like to give my thoughts.

First of all, they held the memorial service at the McKale Center which is for basketball games on the campus of the University of Arizona. I’m guessing that the vast majority of those at the service were students which kinda skews things. Secondly, why they choose the University seems strange. We have a down town area with a large concert hall. And if the University, why not the concert hall there. You could say that there is more seating at McKale than the rest of the University, but again the down town concert hall is huge enough and more solemn than McKale.

Secondly, the President is in town. He doesn’t come here very often especially since he’s a democrat and the state of Arizona is largely Republican.

Thirdly, a number of large churches such as St. Odilia in Tucson are holding services for the victims tomorrow. So really this is all about the President coming to town and showing his support for the community. It’s really not a memorial service and the lack of clergy is explained since the clergy are holding their own services complete with people holding candles to light the path of the young girl’s family as the process into the church.

So yes, you could say that this was a pep rally and not really a memorial service. And I’m really surprised that whoever decided to do this didn’t forsee that McKale is not really the place to hold a memorial service for the people who were shot or injured since all of that happened on the other side of Tucson and those people were older than your typical college student (or younger in the case of the 9 year old). I think that is the main problem here. They should have picked another venue.

The only thing I think the lack of solemnity shows is that college students are rambunctious and yes, not pious or religious. I don’t think it shows how our culture, in general, is. Hope that helps.

And here was a response:

deltaflute, thanks for your insight into the goings on in Tucson. However, I respectfully disagree with your closing statement

“The only thing I think the lack of solemnity shows is that college students are rambunctious and yes, not pious or religious. I don’t think it shows how our culture, in general, is.”

While watching the memorial with my wife last night, the thought we brainstormed to explain our disbelief at the demeanor of those in attendance was “a bunch of university students must have gotten liquored up and gone to see the President.” I don’t think we should give college students a free pass on this one. I’m 25, not that far removed from college myself, and couldn’t imagine having acted with such callousness and rowdiness at a memorial service even if I didn’t know the victims personally. Is reverence dead amongst my generation? Forgive my rant, but it seems we’ve all turned into a bunch of narcissists whose relationships only go as deep as a text message or Facebook post. Those students should be ashamed of themselves, and I agree with Msgr., they need to get themselves to church.

I suppose that I could respond there, but it would take up a lot of space. So I'll respond here.

Reverence are in the eye of the beholder. Here's what I mean. If a person didn't know about say that in Korean culture white is the color of mourning, or that playing a roaring number of the Saints Go Marching in was a part of the New Orleans burial or that during a funeral service a rock number (which was the deceased's favorite) is belted out by the local cantor, then could a person seriously make a judgment call and say that there was a lack of reverence?

I get a little tired about all the whining about piety and reverence involving petty things like the sign of the peace or the use of EMs. We're here to worship Jesus and that's all that God cares about. It's the interior of the person's heart that matters. If a person feels compelled to cheer as a sign of support then so be it.

It's not entirely correct for a person from the DC area or another part of the country to look at his neighbors in Tucson and say "you lack reverence." I want to say to that person "hey, you have a beam in your eye."

As I said before, there are some people who can quote Canon law, but forget that Jesus talked about the spirit of the law. And there are some who feel compelled to pray in different ways or show their outward piety differently. The fact that we are a diverse body of Christ as a church and as a people is awesome.

So if a person wants to tell me that the college students of the UofA, who have endured tragedy numerous times over (refer to last blog post), aren't respectful or reverent then they seriously are barking up the wrong tree. Venue has a lot to do with as well as how a community comes together to show support. If my fellow DC neighbors wish for a more solemn occasion, then again the memorial service should have taken place at the TCC music hall.

So I'll say it one final time: Reverence is in the eye of the beholder and get that giant beam out of your eye before you start trying to pick out bits of dust in my fellow Tucsonans' eyes. Some of the student's make lack religious piety, but that doesn't mean they are disrespectful and don't understand tragedy.

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I love to read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!