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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: Columbia pastor shares his reaction to violence at Boston Marathon

By Steve Swope/Missourian reader
April 16, 2013 | 5:13 p.m. CDT

Steve Swope is pastor at the United Church of Christ in Columbia. Steve is a liberal/progressive Christian committed to recognizing and supporting diversity in modern faith and society. He wrote this post for

My family often visited Boston and its historical sites during summer vacations when I was growing up. And my brother, a gifted athlete in high school and college, ran the Boston Marathon once.


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I also lived in a Boston suburb for three years while attending graduate school, and I enjoyed watching the marathon on TV, thanks to a state holiday. So the location of this most recent tragedy is more familiar to me than others have been.

As events unfolded Monday evening, reactions inevitably began.

One of the first Facebook comments I saw came from a college classmate who used the questioning of a Saudi man (later released from custody, an innocent bystander simply running in fear like everyone else) as reason for the indiscriminate bombing of all our country’s current “enemies.”

I recalled a comment from my brother, just after September 11, 2001. He was living and working in New York at the time and noticed that nearly all the Muslims in the city stayed home for days, fearful of being victims of mob violence.

The scriptures that hold particular importance in my tradition include two stories that I shared on the Sunday after 9/11 — the murder of Abel by his brother Cain and the killing of innocent children by King Herod after the birth of Jesus.

They were the first things I thought of then, and they quickly resurfaced when I read the news from Boston. The heritage of hatred echoes throughout history, and humanity has been its victim again and again.

And not just from those who supposedly “hate our freedoms” but just as much from those in our midst who react viscerally and viciously against any and all imagined enemies.

There will be many cries for “justice” in the days ahead. But nothing will ever restore those lives or make whole those who have been wounded in body or spirit.

We will be among the wounded if we give in to hatred, to desires for retribution. But if we work for peace and reconciliation instead, we will begin to bring healing into the midst of suffering.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising Editor is Joy Mayer.