Commentary

Cycles of jazz and justice

I am not willing yet to say my life is coming full circle. I’m too young for that. <crickets> But, I have now lived long enough to start to see some “former things” arcing back toward me.

For instance, I have loved jazz music since high school. The Twin Cities have a very good jazz station (KBEM) that is number one on my car radio pre-sets.

Bob Hulteen

I was amazed by the weight of being there, especially going to the chapel where Oscar Romero was assassinated.

My younger daughter Ella has been playing jazz for about six years. Increasingly, I find myself again attending concerts and buying jazz CDs. What a gift it is to rediscover parts of one’s past!

For Christmas this year my wife (Susan), Ella, and I went to El Salvador to spend the holiday with my older daughter Korla. She is there supporting efforts to decrease gang violence among young people through alternative activities (like skateboarding) and to increase opportunities for people living in communities that were massacred during the wars of the 1980s.

Korla’s work is a bit of arcing back too. During the 1980s, my wife and I lived in Washington, D.C., and spent significant amounts of time, as a matter of faith, working against the massacres of Central American Christian communities. The White House, at that time, was circumventing anti-interventionist Congressional policies that contributed to the assassinations of people like Archbishop Oscar Romero and the Jesuit professors at the University of Central America. Many, if not most, of the assassins were trained at the U.S.’s School of the Americas.

I had never been to Central America, but many of my fellow congregants had. And people like Lutheran Bishop Medardo Gomez came to the U.S. to ask for help from the U.S. religious community.

Finally, through this trip to visit Korla, I experienced the Christian communities of El Salvador myself. I heard the directorate (city council) of El Sitio Cenisero talk about how God is a part of every aspect of their common life; about how it is just as important to organize for change now as it was during the war.

I was amazed by the weight of being there, especially going to the chapel where Romero was assassinated. I remembered the emptiness I felt when he was killed.

And then I remembered the voices of the campesinos: We always have to be getting ready for change … and watching for arcs.

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