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We know how things are

For this second week of Advent, we will be reading chapters 8-12 of Ordinary Resurrections“ (pages 96-155) by Jonathan Kozol.

“We know how things are” (page 102). This is a telling statement issued by Eleanor, one of the mothers of a child in the afterschool at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in the South Bronx. Eleanor had hoped that her daughter could go to Brown University, because she was smart, polite and worked hard. It was not to be. “We know how things are.” It was a statement of resignation, rather than defiance. Opportunities for children are uneven. Obstacles to overcome vary according to background, race – and horizons.

Eleanor noted that the expectations which had been set for children who lived in the St. Ann’s neighborhood in the South Bronx were truncated. Goals for children were lower. Success was measured differently. “You could succeed”, Eleanor said, “but in the way they meant you to succeed” (page 105).

It is here where Mr. Kozol introduces “ordinary resurrections”. He introduces the metaphor from an article written by Bob Morris, a priest in the Diocese of Newark. Resurrection is taken from the Greek word anastasis, which means standing up again. “We all lie down. We all rise up. We do this every day... The Resurrection does not wait for Easter.”

Life can knock us down. Some people get knocked down more from life than others. Unfairness does that. But the promise – the promise, is anastasis. Standing up again. We need to help in ensuring that promise.

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