As part of the church contingent (we're very much concerned because one, the graduates, students and their families do not need this stupidity and hate, and two, the cathedral's right across the street from where the graduations will be held), I went down to help de-escalate things. The Westboro people know how to provoke people and want to see people react. It's pretty sick, really.
Teenagers are also not known for being calm, cool and collect in the face of such outrageous behavior, but I was delighted to see them exercise their energies on a sizable counter-demonstration on the other side of the street. I'm so happy to see them stand up and use their voice. The Westboro people were pretty quiet today, too, so that helped. Oh, yes, it was also raining. I'm pretty sure God had a hand in that one.
The fact that it went off without a hitch, without any loud shouts or much baiting, is nice. It was quiet and it gave me the chance to get a look at the Westboro people more closely as they returned to their van. It was scary to look at those faces. They looked like they should be normal, sensible people, but beneath that facade lurked undeniably evil hatred. I don't use the word 'evil' lightly- look at the Westboro website if you want a glimpse into the pure hatred which permeates every word. It's disgusting, and it cannot come from God.
But their faces! They weren't contorted or ugly or anything. Nothing would distinguish them from anyone else if it weren't for those signs and their words, and I guess that is a glimpse into what we call "the banality of evil." It doesn't bear nice marks to distinguish it, nothing to set it apart. It looks and seems to act like one of us. Now it sounds like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" or something.
So, friends, can I ask your prayers and thoughts for the young people (and the Jewish community) of Omaha this week? They all need strength in these times.