For we know only in part … but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. – 1 Corinthians 13:9-10 (NRSV)
When Alec Baldwin came to the Orient Congregational Church to give a talk on spirituality in the light of Covid, he hit a lecture circuit homerun. But then, on that awful day last fall when he accidentally shot someone to death, he struck out.
The police think he has an anger management problem. The paparazzi attack his wife for her last name. He impersonated the President on Saturday Night Live, without mercy. He played a buffoon from high up in Rockefeller Center. He has an edge. When that terrible accident happened during a movie filming, he could only say, “I’m so sorry.”
If we ever get to the bottom of what happened, that will be great. The truth is better than conjectures. Was he set up? Was there foul play? Was it just fatigue or laziness or bad training? Was it all of these things in some kind of toxic brew that would have poisoned anything and everybody near it?
Flannery O’Connor wrote stories about people whose lives devolved to their smallest gestures. Old Mr. Fortune, in a View of the Woods, loves his granddaughter so much that he kills her unintentionally. The young son of a dissolute couple in The River is taken by his babysitter to see a country baptism, goes back by himself and drowns trying to find his new friend Jesus in the river.
Paul assures us we are incomplete. Some things we just don’t know, nor will we know.
We pray for those who already buckled under the stress of life and guns and fame. We pray to be less scared ourselves. We pray to live partially, well. A-them.
Donna Schaper is Pastor at the Orient Congregational Church on the far end of Long Island, New York. Her newest book is Remove the Pews: Spiritual Possibilities for Sacred Spaces, from The Pilgrim Press.