Midweek Blog: What’s Before Us?

Staying at home during the pandemic has given me lots of time to do more reading.  A few weeks ago I even stayed up past my normal bed time to finish a book about the Enneagram that I was especially enjoying.  I pushed through to the end and went to bed with lots of new thoughts swirling around in my head.  The next morning I woke, and one of the very first things I saw scrolling through social media was an article detailing the spiritual and psychological abuse that more than 30 people had experienced and witnessed from the author of the book I had just finished, Chris Heuertz.  

It was around that same time that multiple credible accusations of sexual and spiritual abuse were being made against David Haas, a composer who is featured many times in our hymnals.  I don’t pay much attention to the composer credits at the bottom of the pages, but it turns out that Haas composed one of my favorites, “Peace before us.”  This song became a favorite of mine because of its simple beauty.  The easy melody, simple harmonies, and prayerful lyrics make it a go-to for when I need a song that anyone can join in on without needing a hymnbook or just the right-pitch.  

In light of these revelations, many people are asking “What’s before us?”  How do we move forward with this knowledge?  What do we do with the books that have taught us or the songs that have inspired us? 

These multiple revelations coming around the same time have been disorienting for a lot of people, yet the reality is that many of these survivors have been fighting to have their stories told and believed long before we ever got to this moment.  Over and over again, systems have functioned to protect abusers while discrediting or ignoring the voices of survivors.  

So as we look to what’s before us in this moment, perhaps the most important question to keep in mind is, “How do we build the kind of communities where survivors of abuse are not only believed but supported in their work of healing and justice?” 

There is no one answer, but I am grateful for those who are helping us explore the new possibilities that this question opens up.   For this is not just the work of survivors, but all of our work.  And our commitments to this work may mean we have to let go of some things if we are to make way for a more beloved community to become possible.  You can read about the decision to pull Haas’s songs from the forthcoming Voices Together hymnal HERE, and HERE are suggestions for alternatives to Haas’s songs that would have similar themes or musical style.