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  • Reverend James Squire

Metanoia



Metanoia is a Greek word which means to change one’s mind. It is a conversion to a radically different way of thinking, feeling, and believing. Metanoia means to change one’s life! When most people hear the word, conversion, they think of the religious meaning of the word for there were many life changing moments in the Bible. Perhaps most well known in Christendom is the conversion of St. Paul who is struck by a blinding light on the road to Damascus, hears the voice of Jesus, and becomes a different person. He who was once a persecutor of Christians becomes perhaps the most important person in the early spread of the Gospel. We find a name change usually occurs. In Paul’s case, his name was changed from Saul to Paul.


When Abram became the patriarch of the Jewish people, his name was changed to Abraham. His wife’s Sarai’s name became Sarah. Of course, conversions occur without changing a name in the biblical record. Moses is changed forever after encountering God as a still small voice in a burning bush.


We think that metanoia or life changing moments only come in big ways such as occurred in the biblical record, but they occur every day in the lives of ordinary people.


The one that is on my mind at the moment is the metanoia of Kyle Rittenhouse and his recent trial. The right was elated by the decision and those on the progressive side were shocked that he went free. The right should watch what they pray for as sometimes that backfires on you such as is true with Kyle Rittenhouse.


We all know the stories of him being offered internships in Washington by the usual suspects and that Fox news and Tucker Carson made a film with no one knowing that would celebrate the life that he believed embodied everything that Carlson believed including opposition to protestors and gun rights. Two members of the Fox station resigned in protest of this immoral move on Carlson’s point.


Some have indicated that Rittenhouse’s change is due to his guilt and wanting to make amends. Others say that he just is making a point that he really believes his killing of the two men in self- defense was being underscored by him. He has stretched the truth that he was a nursing student at Arizona State University. Thousands of students signed a petition demanding that if he isn’t already admitted to the university, he shouldn’t be considered now. Their demand was based in someone who chose “protecting property over people.”


Since I have taught young people for thirty-eight years, I believe in the “God of Second Chances” or sometimes it takes “three strikes and you are out.” I think that Rittenhouse may have changed and is a new and different person. Metanoia! His future actions will be the judge of this point of view.


I have noticed in several articles that he hasn’t become an icon for the right. On one right wing network that the interviewer told him he was kind of “impressive.” She went on to say that the two men that he shot were some of the worst on the planet followed up by a rousing, “Congratulations! Good job you!”


Then the metanoia. Rittenhouse responded that the killings were nothing to be congratulated about. If I could go back, I wish I would never have had to take somebody’s life.” Not the response that this this right-wing personality was expecting. Rittenhouse went on to say that it was a bad idea in the first place to go to Kenosha and that he supports Black Lives Matter. I would say to him what I have had to say to students over the years who had committed immoral acts that were known to the community. “No one likes to defined by a moment. You will only be able to move forward with less talk and more action that supports the good. Even then it won’t be an easy road.” There is no cheap grace.


The podcast personality tried again using a slightly difficult approach that Rittenhouse didn’t like it when someone called him a hero. Rittenhouse’s response again took the interview away from where she wanted her story to go. “I don’t like being called a hero because I don’t think I did anything heroic; I just defended myself.”


Since I have been interviewed regarding famous people who have been part of the EA community, it is almost always clear to me that the interviewer has a story written already in her mind. He just wanted confirmation of his or her perspective by talking with me. The truth was not important.


The Rolling Stone Magazine interviewed me regarding one of our graduates who was widely known. When my responses to his questions were not what he needed to confirm a largely negative piece about the individual, he abruptly stopped the interview and stated, “You have ruined my story.” When I asked him why he didn’t what to share the real truth about this person, he responded with, “That doesn’t sell!” I think that approach has taken over journalism today.


Trump was reviled by the press. I read recently about a series of comments made by present day journalists who have been concerned about “overly harsh” stories about President Biden. They listed all of the damaging headlines about Biden as an example of headlines of half-truths regarding the President. Metanoia is needed for our journalists today because when stories occur to make a person better, as I believe it has for Kyle Rittenhouse, it can lead us to a better understanding of truth.

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