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Remembering What Unites Us

Oct. 31, 2018 

Dear Members of the SLU Community, 

Last Wednesday, two black people in Kentucky were killed while shopping for groceries purely because of their racial identity. Then, over the weekend, we learned that the lives of eleven people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh were taken during another act of violence. 

Our SLU community mourns in solidarity with the Jewish and black communities who, along with other groups of marginalized identities, live each day knowing that at any point they may be subjected to the hate in the hearts of others, and their lives may be at risk. 

I do not know what it is like to live each day in this way as it has not been the life I have lived. 

But for those in our community who are feeling scared, tired, weary, or wondering when or if we will see the day where the hateful rhetoric and dehumanizing violence come to an end, you are not alone. Solidarity and community mean that we never have to face such evil alone. 

A central tenant of the Christian faith is that God is all powerful, all good, and all knowing, and in these moments, it is easy to ask how suffering can exist in a world where God is all of those things. 

SLU is blessed to have one of the world experts on this very question, Dr. Eleonore Stump, a professor in the Department of Philosophy. 

One of her recent books, Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering, begins with an epigraph of a poem by an anonymous Jewish prisoner found on a wall at Auschwitz. It reads: 

There is grace, though,
and wonder, on the way.
Only they are hard to see,
hard to embrace, for
those compelled to
wander in darkness. 

We know our country, our community, and our neighbors. We will go to bed, with heavy hearts, but when the morning comes, we rise. 

We pull ourselves out of bed and each other out of desolation. And we show up—with resilient spirits and full hearts because a fresh day is an opportunity. 

Our SLU community prays with and for the families who are broken from acts of anti-Semitism, racism, or any other –ism. We will continue our work to counter any belief or system that is derived from hate and discrimination of the identities that help us express our humanity.

Let us remember Dr. Stump’s words that, “heartbreak can be woven into joy through the reciprocity of love.” 


Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.