South Carolina became my adopted state 30 years ago. Understanding and appreciating its culture is a continual journey of social and religious understanding. The story of the Emanuel Nine provides a new dimension of learning. This tragic incident is personal and impactful.
When Dylann Storm Roof entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston on Wednesday evening, June 17th and joined the Bible study taking place, he had no idea what he really joined or what he really started. The evil which possessed him and permitted him to carry out a horrendous series of murderous acts was already in the process of being overcome by good.
The dozen people present under the leadership of Rev. Clementa Pinckney were studying the interpretation of the Parable of the Sower and the Soils from the Gospel of Mark, chapter four. In this parable a sower goes out to sow seeds and some fell on the road, some of the rocky ground, some among the thorns, and some along good soil.
What Dylann did not know is that he had just connected with a group of people who overwhelmingly were part of the good soil. They got it. They understood the unconditional love of God through Jesus Christ. They were full of grace, mercy and love rather than judgment, cruelty and hate.