July 9, 2016,

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

The two killings of two African American citizens by police in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis earlier this week followed on Thursday night by the murder of five police officers in Dallas left me and most of our country stunned. On an almost weekly basis the violence is escalating. As Americans we seem unable to do anything, and this runs against our nature. We are a nation of people who take pride in identifying problems and fixing them. We want to cry out, “Let’s do something!” Yet, from new locations and varied circumstances the killings continue.

In describing my own feelings I find myself mixing metaphors. This is like a knotted ball of yarn. At every turn there is a knot or a tangle. When looked at as a whole the situation is a toxic mix of poverty, racism, drugs and alcohol, picayune laws, poor sentencing policies, love of violence, and a nation awash with guns. How do you sort this out? Some issues are more difficult than others, but like the knotted ball of yarn you can’t pull at the whole ball. You must untie one knot at a time.

There are many Christian values that can apply to our toxic situation. Jesus certainly cried out for justice and mercy. The Church needs to call our nation to consider a third value central to Jesus and the Gospel. That would be service. Jesus taught us how to serve. He insisted that we have a moral imperative to respect others. This means putting our own agendas, power, and even ourselves aside as we listen and care for others. For Jesus service isn’t just being nice or having good manners. Our very salvation depends on it. If we could instill in our nation Jesus’ core value of serving others, the result could bring an attitude of cooperation and a mutual discovery of solutions that work. If this were our starting point, we might go a long way in solving the dilemma of violence that currently plagues us. With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,