Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Political street theater

On Friday, a few of us from Amazing Grace experienced some political street theater near the campus of Our Lady of the Lake University where Westboro Baptist Church was scheduled to protest a theater production of The Laramie Project, a play about Matthew Shepard, the Wyoming man so violently beaten a decade ago. We went to see the play, but to also prayerfully and nonviolently counterprotest this group that regularly protests military funerals, college graduations, and other events. Fred Phelps, their leader, is the example of so much of what I don’t want to be as a Christian.

The evening was a bit anticlimactic. We didn’t see Fred Phelps. We didn’t hear hate-filled shouts. We did however, encounter more of the crowd gathered with signs promoting love. There was some shouting and horn-honking, but for us from Amazing Grace, it was more a night at the theater than a night of political street theater.

Though I love the idea of being vocal about our faith and being a witness of God’s love in the world, marching is certainly not in my comfort zone. I’ve done a few MLK marches, but I always feel a bit anxious and uneasy. Will I get arrested? Is somebody going to get hurt? Am I willing to take risks for what I believe?

The play itself was very powerful. It retells the experience of Laramie residents before and after the attack. After the play, I felt emotionally drained. It’s hard to imagine that such violence exits, and that people can be so hateful.

As I watched the play, I was very aware that religion was playing a major role in how people understood the tragedy. Characters included a Unitarian Universalist minister, some sort of Christian Evangelical preacher, a Roman Catholic priest, and Fred Phelps. I noticed an absence of Lutherans. I know that there is a Lutheran congregation in Laramie, and have been there, but wonder now what their response was.

And I wonder what my response would be. If something like that happened here in San Antonio, would I speak out? How would I address it? I pray that I would have courage to remain loving and faithful.

And so, here we are in Holy Week, after the political street theater of Palm Sunday.


  1. I appreciate your reflections, as always. There was a recent incident in San Antonio of a transgendered person being forced to have sex with a San Antonio Police Officer, not violence ending in death, but violence nonetheless. Not much fuss was raised outside of GLBT community. Does it take a death to raise our concern? Just thinking out loud...

  2. I did respond when that incident happened: