‘The Best of Enemies’: What Happens When a Klansman and an Activist Talk it Out?

‘The Best of Enemies’: What Happens When a Klansman and an Activist Talk it Out?

Video Courtesy of STX Entertainment


Warning: This post contains spoilers for the film The Best of Enemies.

I did not know what to expect from the film The Best of Enemies, but what I experienced was a range of emotions—disbelief, pride, anger, discomfort, and finally, hope. If it were not based on the true story of the fight for school integration in Durham, North Carolina in 1971, I would have had a difficult time believing the events of the 2019 film, The Best of Enemies directed by Robin Bissell. That is not to say that Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell did not offer compelling performances as civil rights leader Ann Atwater and Ku Klux Klan leader C.P. Ellis—because they did—but the notion of deep-seated and systemic racial oppression being rectified through charrette, the meetings held for the community to resolve the issue of school segregation, co-chaired by a civil rights activist and the local KKK leader is incredulous. Yet, it is true. Based on the book The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South, the film portrays the unlikely beginnings of a lasting camaraderie between Atwater and Ellis. Throughout the film, viewers are presented with Black pain, Black resilience, Black joy, and the hope that justice will prevail, which it does very neatly in the end. Despite the ending, the issues addressed in The Best of Enemies felt eerily familiar as America is still plagued with systemic racism in housing, healthcare, education, and employment that affects the lived experience of Black people across the United States.

What felt true as I watched The Best of Enemies was the prominent role that Black women, particularly women of faith, play in the fight for social justice. Academy Award-winning actress  Taraji P. Henson, in her role as Anne Atwater, embodies a kind of holy courage. The film highlights the most notable work of Atwater in the desegregation of Durham Public Schools, however, she was known for more than the events depicted in the film. Atwater was a generous organizer who leads the charge for Black and poor people in the community over several decades. She lent her voice in the face of great evil, stating, “God gave me the gift to reach out and touch.”  Atwater is part of the great cloud of witnesses of Black women whose faith informs their activism and understanding of the humanity of all people, including Sojourner Truth, Ella Baker, Septima Poinsette Clark, and Prathia Hall. This faith informed justice is still being witnessed in the life and work of Rev. Traci Blackmon who serves as Executive Minister of Justice & Local Church Ministries for The United Church of Christ, Rev. Jennifer Bailey of the Faith Matters Network, Rev. Neichelle R. Guidry, Dean of Sisters Chapel at Spelman College, and many more who, like Atwater, are getting in the way of racism, sexism, and disparities in healthcare, economics, employment and education.

What also felt true and frightening as I watched The Best of Enemies was the relationship between White Nationalism and White Christianity and the systemic support of racialized oppression. The acting in the film had such depth that it felt all too real. The closing prayer offered at the KKK meeting left me squirming in my seat. I had a visceral reaction every time there was an exchange between Ellis (Rockwell) and members of the city government showing the way in which the government was in bed with the KKK and other White supremacists. I was maddened every time Atwater testified before the all-White, all-male city council as one member blatantly disregarded her by turning his chair so his back would be to her as she spoke. I was infuriated when Ellis was hand chosen by the Mayor (Bruce McGill) to steer the charrette in such a way that so that school segregation would continue to be enforced remarking, “He’s about to hand you the keys to school integration and you’re going to lock the door.” Days after the screening, I was still unsettled. While the costumes, hair, make-up, and set design transport viewers to 1971, I was sitting with the fact that these are not solely historical realities, but rather issues that are alive and present today. There is still a strong relationship between Christian supremacy and White supremacy in the United States.  And a quick glance at the headlines shows institutional racism is present in our local, state and national governments in 2019. From Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam admitting to President Donald Trump’s clarion call to Make America Great Again alongside statements and policies that devalue Black and Brown people, it is evident in the film and today that the fight for justice is rigged.

As much as I enjoyed The Best of Enemies, it was not above critique. In my estimation, the glossy cinematography and upbeat score did not jibe well with the grit and tenor of events. There was a cognitive dissonance present as my eyes and ears were stimulated against the backdrop of racism, especially the heinous words and actions of Ellis and the Ku Klux Klan members. Also, the conversion of Ellis’ ideals, as the Black Gospel choir sang, “God is Tryna Tell You Something” is an overused trope in film that adds to the sanitization, saccharization, and oversimplification of the work of racial reconciliation and redemption. There was no conversation at the KKK meeting as Ellis led the prayer for God to bless the “Invisible Empire” early in the film. There was no conversion as Atwater reminds Ellis “Same God made you, made me” in the parking lot after a charrette. The scene where Ellis has a change of heart after witnessing Black bodies joyfully singing to God, I would argue, dangerously puts the onus on Black people to do the heavy lifting in the work of justice while making a joyful noise despite their pain. Dismantling racism is going to take a lot more than Black folk ushering White people into the presence of God, rather it requires White people facing their own privilege and power and truly recognizing and living out an ethic that all are created in the image and likeness of God, a point that was missed in the film.

The Best of Enemies is a film that arouses a range of emotions but leaves the audience feeling hopeful. This story of expected and unexpected courage, civility and camaraderie in the plight to desegregate Durham Public Schools in 1971 is a must see. And for me, the film piqued my curiosity about the lives of Ann Atwater and C.P. Ellis and the ways in which their story can be studied, adapted, and replicated in the continued plight to dismantle racism, sexism, and other injustices that plague American society.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rev. Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah is a preacher, chaplain, teacher, artist, writer, thinker, and dreamer who loves to study the Word of God, encourage others, and worship God. Rev. Owusu-Ansah holds a BS in Studio Art from New York University, an MFA in Photography from Howard University, and a Master of Divinity, Pastoral Theology, from Drew University. You can check out her website at https://www.reverendmotherrunner.com.

‘The Best of Enemies’ Interview with Bill Riddick

UrbanFaith.com Chats with actor Bill Riddick from Urban Faith on Vimeo.


If not for the movie The Best of Enemies, W.L. “Bill” Riddick would be relatively unknown. I attended a screening for The Best of Enemies, starring Taraji P. Hensen and Sam Rockwell, and was enchanted by Bill’s character commandingly portrayed by British actor Babou Ceesay. I jumped at the chance to speak with Bill—to hear his story, how his Christian faith informs his work, and if his use of a collaborative process known as charrette (to unite opposing sides) could be used to solve conflict in these times of racial, gender, economic, and educational injustice.

A humble man, Riddick is an unsung hero who leads a charrette co-chaired by an unlikely pair — civil rights activist Ann Atwater and KKK leader C.P. Ellis — in the desegregation of the Durham Public Schools in 1971. With a career in human services that spans over fifty years, Bill’s story did not start or end with the charrette in Durham in 1971.

For those of our readers who may be unfamiliar with you, tell us, who is Bill Riddick?

Bill Riddick is a man born in the ’30s. My parents were tenant farmers. I got the opportunity to go to A&T State University, worked for a couple of years,  and then went back to NC State University for a Masters Degree and then started a career. I spent my last eighteen years at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill working in student health. So, he’s a good guy. A Christian man who has a lovely family and all is well right now.

I was going to ask this later, but I’ll ask now. Can you share how your faith has informed your work throughout the years?

Like most Southerners, I grew up in the church because it’s the only social institution in the community. I kind of lost my way for a few years and when the charette started, my faith was there, but my behavior wasn’t there. So when I look back on it, I realize that the Lord gave me every word, led me every step, gave me every idea, and He chose me as a vessel for these two people. But I didn’t ask Him at that point. But I understand it now.

You understand it now. Yes! There’s something about looking and tracing not only the trajectory of your life but also the hand of God in your life. You can see how God was moving even when you didn’t realize it. So, tell us how you became acquainted with the charette process?

I was working at Shaw University and we did a charette and it fell apart. About halfway through it the person who was leading the charette told me that I was the reason that it was falling apart. I finished it. It turned out to be good. I got invited to Indianapolis and then to York, Pennsylvania, and then, of course, to Durham.

How did you get to Durham? Who invited you? What were your expectations walking in?

I got there through a friend of mine. His name was Wilbur Hobby from the North Carolina AFL-CIO. We had made a good friendship in some other work we had done together. When he called me, I knew it was serious. I knew that he was asking me to do something that was impossible because he was just that kind of guy. (chuckles) I had some reservations about it, but I knew that he was a good person and he wouldn’t put me in anything he thought I could not do. So that gave me the energy to sort this thing out.

So did you think it would work? 

Well, in doing a charette, the first thing you do is put together a steering committee. And once you get the steering committee, you then look at the opposite of the issue. And that’s how I got to Ann and that’s how I got to C.P. I got to CP because he knew Wilbur. And when I called Wilbur’s name, he gained enough respect to call me other than what he did. (chuckles) But at least he knew that I had somebody in my history, or in my present life, that was a friend to both of us.

What would you say the film got right and what didn’t we see in the film that you think was important to the process?

I think the film got the major points right. This whole movie is real. Robin Bissell did a great job of picking the parts that were big parts and had to be shown to the public. But to have gotten one day of the back and forth, and how we had to argue about stuff, especially those first four or five days, would have been something the audience would enjoy. But that would have been a three-hour movie by itself.

As I watched the film, I kept thinking, “So I know the ending, but this is incredulous! That had to be some experience for you, but I’m sure there had to be others. So outside of Durham in 1971 what would you say the most memorable charrette was and what made it memorable?

Well, if I take Durham out of it, I really enjoyed the one in Indianapolis. We got the community together to offer what it would look like in a low-wealth community. And that school, the way we designed it started at 6 o’clock in the morning and ended at 11:00 with women bringing “well”  babies to the clinic and all that stuff. I have no idea whether all that was accomplished, but the city was very pleased with what we had done to put together a high school that served the community—where people didn’t have to go downtown for services.

I read your bio and I know a little bit about your background and it sounds like you’ve done amazing work, hands-on Justice work, which is still much needed. We’re still living in very tense times, and there are disparities across race, gender, socioeconomic status, healthcare, education and more. Do you think that a charrette is a tool that can still be used today, and if so, in what ways?

Well, the charrette was set up to be a 10-day process. Nobody in America today would have time to do anything for 10 straight days. That’s not going to happen. I do think, though, that the issue of bringing people together to look at the same problem but who see it very differently is something that we are going to have to start doing in our country. We bark at each other, but we don’t sit down and truly listen to what the other person is saying. That was the intent of the charrette; That we will listen and respond and listen and respond until we come up with a solution. We just don’t have the attitude, nor the time, to do that kind of thing today.

As you were saying that, I was thinking of the Disciples in the Upper Room. There’s waiting and patience and willingness to bear your thoughts and feelings and deeply listen and work through the conflict that is necessary.

That is true. We’re going to have to start looking at issues that affect a lot of people and do something about it really, other than giving it lip service. And I also think the key might be the religious community. Because I honestly believe, first of all, that God is not happy with us—with the divisiveness and putting each other down. I think He is very much unhappy with that. I believe that this is a time for faith-based institutions to come together, to say, “Look, you know we can do this! We can. Not only do we have the power of God on our side, but we can do things much like the Civil Rights movement. I think if Martin King wasn’t a God-fearing man that he would not have been as successful as he was.

Yes. Absolutely. Do you have any parting words of wisdom or advice you would share with our readers who are mostly millennials—the younger generation, though I believe the oldest millennials are about thirty-nine now, so not so young. What would you share with our readers in terms of using their faith in the work of justice?

I believe that if you go to the movie and see it, you take the time the next day or two just to look at yourself in the mirror and decide what your biases are that might harm other people. Make a pledge to yourself to become a better person, to say, “I’m going to treat people the way I want to be treated—no matter what their color, age, ethnicity, and all that stuff —I am going to give everybody the right to stand on the surface that they stand on.” I think if we do that, millennials particularly won’t get caught up in these lines of disliking this person and liking this person.

To learn more about Bill and his work, check out the film The Best of Enemies in theaters in April 2019 and pick up his book The Charrette Process: A Tool in Urban Planning.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rev. Donna Olivia Owusu-Ansah is a preacher, chaplain, teacher, artist, writer, thinker, and dreamer who loves to study the Word of God, encourage others, and worship God. Rev. Owusu-Ansah holds a BS in Studio Art from New York University, an MFA in Photography from Howard University, and a Master of Divinity, Pastoral Theology, from Drew University. You can check out her website at https://www.reverendmotherrunner.com.

8 Ways to Pull Yourself Up When You’re Going through Hell

8 Ways to Pull Yourself Up When You’re Going through Hell

 

We don’t mean to lie, but when someone asks us how we’re doing, it is much easier to say that we are “fine” or “blessed” than to tell the whole truth. The reality is that we are not always fine. There are times when we are going through hell. We face personal hell—conflict in close relationships, failing health, toxic work environments, financial struggle, church hurt, and other distress. If that wasn’t enough, in the age of moral decline, we are also going through hell in the social and political landscape of our lives with political maneuvering, state-sanctioned violence against Black people at the hands of police, pervasive patriarchy and gender inequality, and racial disparities in education, employment, healthcare, and housing. Even if you are not distressed personally, with increased access to information, we are constantly bombarded with bad news, which can wear on our hearts and minds. Whatever hell you are going through, we offer these eight suggestions to pull yourself up:

  1. Breathe: In times of stress and hardship, notice your breathing. Often when we are feeling anxious or overwhelmed, our breathing tends to be shallow. Research has shown that deep breathing lowers stress, heart rate, and blood pressure. A simple breathing technique to try is to sit upright, shoulders relaxed, arms resting by your sides, with your eyes closed. Inhale through your nose for five counts, then exhale through your mouth for five counts, repeating this process 3-10 times. If you find yourself in a persistent state of hell, make time daily for deep breathing to help release tension and stress. Deep breathing won’t make the issues go away, but it will calm you and clear your mind to face the issues.
  2. Pray: In moments of trial, prayer is beneficial for many reasons. First, it invites us to pause and connect with God—to be reminded that we are deeply loved and are not alone. Second, prayer gives us an opportunity to release our burdens to the One who is able to bear the weight of all that we carry. Lastly, prayer reminds us that the hell we experience on earth is no comparison to the joy we will experience in the eternal presence of God, filling us with hope and power to forge ahead despite what we are facing.
  3. Phone a Friend: In addition to divine connection, human connection is vital to our well-being. In particularly burdensome times, talking with a friend—whether via text, telephone, or in person—has a way of lifting your spirits. Be sure to connect with friends who will listen deeply and empathize with you; I am reminded of the story of Job in the Bible when he was going through hell and his friends showed up. They cried with him and sat with him in his pain. Their presence comforted him greatly and did not become a nuisance until later in the story when they began to insert their thoughts and opinions about what he was going through instead of simply being with him.
  4. Play: In our culture and society, play is viewed as children’s business or trivial, but I would argue that play and movement are necessary for well-being, especially when in the midst of hardship. Think about it: In elementary school, even the most stressful days and bickering amongst friends was cured by a game of kickball, double-dutch, or running around on the jungle gym. Recreation has a way of creating us again and invigorating us for life. My preferred play is running. Join a pick-up game of basketball, head to the bowling alley with friends, or dance with reckless abandon with your children. Whatever you do, allow yourself to engage in an activity that brings you joy and gets you moving!
  5. Count Your Blessings: There is something about a posture of gratitude that helps to encourage us. When going through hell and everything seems to be going wrong, recounting the aspects of life that are going well and the people and things we are grateful for is an instant mood lifter. There is a saying, “I have more to be thankful for than to complain about” and when we think about and name our blessings, the pressure of our problems is allayed.
  6. Repeat a Mantra: Mantras are typically not associated with Christianity; however the word mantra simply means to think. It is a thought, word or phrase repeated to inspire, motivate, ground, or calm an individual. A mantra can be a quotation from Scripture that encourages you to persevere through tough times or a phrase that cultivates and strengthens your faith and resolve in times of suffering. I have a friend who when faced with obstacles that appear insurmountable repeats the mantra, “God is bigger!” It’s has helped her get through many distressing situations.
  7. Extend Yourself Grace: Sometimes we can be especially hard on ourselves, even when we are going through difficult times. The reality is that the expectations we have of ourselves we would never have of others if they found themselves in situations that mirror our own. When I am going through hell, trying to keep things together, I find it helpful to treat myself the way I would treat a friend. This means reminding myself that I’m doing the best I can or permitting myself to rest. It also means speaking kindly to myself when I fall short.
  8. Recognize that this is temporary: In the moment, it often feels like the hellish experiences that we are having will last forever, but the operative word in the phrase going through hell is “Going.” When facing various trials and tribulations, it is important to remember that where we are is not where we’ll always be; There will come a day when this hell will be a distant memory, and a testament to your grace, strength, resilience, and resolve.

End-of-Life Decisions an Act of Justice

End-of-Life Decisions an Act of Justice

Not long ago, I was sitting at the bedside of my mother as she lay in a hospital bed in the critical care unit on a ventilator. With a tube in her throat, her voice was silenced. We had no idea who she wanted to make decisions for her. We didn’t know her wishes should she experience a decline — we didn’t even know if she wanted to be intubated in the first place. In this case, her right to make decisions about her healthcare was not stripped of her but rather was not exercised.

As a justice-seeker and end-of-life spiritual care practitioner, I often bring up advanced care planning to my family’s dismay. My mother had been reluctant to have any conversation about it, shrugging me off, quipping, “Just make sure they don’t put any makeup on me in the casket.” Thank God, she has recovered and is doing well, but the reality is that she, like many African-Americans, do not participate in advanced care planning and making end-of-life decisions.

Poet and social activist Langston Hughes wrote, “There is no color line in death.” Yet, when it comes to advanced care planning and end-of-life care, the color line is obvious. African-Americans disproportionately engage in advance care planning and utilize hospice and palliative care at lower rates than whites, thus affecting the quality of life as death approaches. The reasons are myriad: cultural factors, economic concerns, negative perceptions of hospice and palliative care, and mistrust of physicians and the healthcare system. African-Americans have a strained relationship with the healthcare industry rooted in historical facts such as the exploitation of Black bodies for medical research throughout American history, such as the Tuskegee experiment, a decades-long “study” on African-American men with syphilis performed without informed consent and leaving the disease untreated, even after an effective cure had been found. Also, embedded in this lack of advance care planning and underutilization of hospice and palliative care is the theological understanding that pain and suffering are part of God’s plan for our lives. There are many people I have encountered in my work in hospice and in church ministry that bear unnecessary suffering, whether physical pain or emotional burdens because they believe that is their cross to bear. This is not solely my experience, but a widely held belief that hinders patients from managing their pain and families from receiving the additional services that would ease their burden of care.

Besides, we’re living our best lives and who has time to plan for healthcare crisis or think about death?

But what if living our best lives means considering healthcare decisions and end-of-life planning? What if making healthcare decisions is not merely a matter of physical health, but a matter of justice? In addition to racial, gender, economic, and educational equity, quality healthcare is a justice concern. And I would argue, given my particular role as a hospice chaplain providing spiritual care and emotional support to patients and families during end-of-life, that advanced care planning and comprehensive end-of-life care are part of quality healthcare. In the National Hospice and Palliative Care “Outreach to African Americans Guide,” Dr. Richard Payne, Professor of Medicine and Divinity at the Duke Institute of End of Life Care wrote, “Hospice offers the best hope not to be alone, to be with family, to have pain controlled, and to be connected to your faith and beliefs. We are as entitled as anyone else to have these hopes fulfilled.”

If Black lives matter, and they do, then one way we proclaim that we matter is by exercising agency in our healthcare, including making decisions about who can speak for us when we are unable, whether or not we want aggressive treatment such as resuscitation and intubation, and how we want to be treated at the end of life. Given the historical exploitation of Black bodies in medical research—often carried out without our consent or after death—raising our voices and making our own decisions related to healthcare is an act of resistance, declaring our dignity and worth in a country where our personhood is devalued a daily basis.

I hear you. People of a certain age should engage in those conversations and make their healthcare decisions known. But I’m young, I’m healthy, and I’m living my best life. I have plenty of time before I have to think about advanced care planning.

Just as there is no color line in death, there is also no age line. Crisis, disease, terminal illness, and death can come at any age—including in your twenties and thirties. And while healthcare decisions can be made at any time, the best time to make healthcare decisions is during times of calm, clarity of mind, and relatively good health.

Not sure where to start? Here are some practical suggestions:

  1. Consider: Reflect upon what quality of life and a good death means for you. Think about the person who would best speak for you in the event you cannot make decisions for yourself.
  2. Voice: Use one or more of the many tools available (living will, power of attorney, advance directive, or the Five Wishes document) to put your healthcare decisions on paper. If you have a chronic health issue, consider completing a Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) with your physician. When choosing a healthcare proxy, but sure to dialogue with them about your wishes and their ability to carry them out.
  3. Engage: Share your decisions with your loved ones and friends and encourage them to have the conversation and make their choices known. Move the discussion beyond your immediate circle to your congregation and community. As a matter of justice, the conversation on advanced care planning should be had far and wide.
  4. Revisit: Healthcare decisions will evolve as we do. It is important to note that these are not static documents, but that they should be revisited and revised as our lives and perspectives change. A general rule of thumb would be to revisit the document every ten years and with major life changes (marriage, children, the onset of disease, etc.).

Making healthcare decisions is not only wise for personal quality of life, but it also bears witness to the power of agency, advocacy, and the humanity of African-Americans. For some, it may seem like just a document, but for African-Americans, it is an act of resistance, and an act of freedom, and an act of justice.

For more information, visit theconversationproject.org.

What does the Bible mean to Black millennials?

What does the Bible mean to Black millennials?

In our shifting religious landscape — one that largely does not formally hear and heed the voices of Black millennials — I’ve wondered how they value and engage Scripture as they flip the pages of the Bible or scroll the sacred text on smartphones.

Out of curiosity, because I’m not a millennial, I posed several questions specifically to Black Christians in this age group across my social media networks — Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — which are teeming with this demographic. I asked, “What does the Bible mean to you? How do you engage the Bible? How does the Bible inform your faith? How important is the Bible in your life?” Not surprisingly, I received only one response on Facebook — three pairs of emoji googly eyes, watching and waiting for more responses that never came. It spoke volumes, especially considering the responses may have invited criticism, at best, or be deemed heretical, at worst.

But I’ve witnessed thoughtful posts and participated in conversations from the respondent and other Black Christian millennials about faith, the Black church, and even the Bible on Facebook. I’ve seen images on Instagram of personal Bibles with passages underlined and questions scribbled in the margins. I’ve followed conversations on Twitter challenging Black churches to have transparent conversations.


Video Courtesy of Brianna Kristelle


God said it, I believe it, but I have questions…

Transparent conversations require a willingness to ask and wrestle with questions, which is characteristic of the ways in which Black Christian millennials engage the Bible and is antithetical to older Black Christians who rarely raise questions of the Bible — a lamp for their feet and a light on their path. When The Christian Post recently featured a story on comedian Rickey Smiley, who shared that at age 50 he was just starting to question some of the stories in the Bible and how they are being used to support white supremacy and pastoral abuse of power, the overwhelming response that I saw from Black millennials was applause for Smiley’s courage in asking questions out loud and challenging the ethos of congregations where doing so is forbidden.

Black Christian millennials are interested in more than clichés, more than pat words appealing to their felt needs, and more than rote memorization of the Bible. This couldn’t be more clear than at the God-Talk: A Black Millennials and Faith Conversation held at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles. Priska Neely tweeted Candice Benbow’s response to the question, “If black millennials are leaving the church, where are they going?” Benbow responded “Brunch. We will tithe to brunch. We will sit there knowing that every single person at the table affirms who we are.” Brunch, for Black millennials, is the place where they can be authentic and ask questions, including questions of the Bible. Questions such as: What does the Bible have to say about racial justice, gender justice, sexual abuse, economic justice, environmental justice, and mental health? How does the Bible speak to theological and cultural needs? What role does the Bible play in informing faith in ways that spark action and policy change in the face of violence, trauma, and corruption? How does the Bible speak to joy, resilience, wholeness, and community? And let’s be honest, these questions make many uncomfortable, especially older African Americans who have a rigid relationship with the Bible.

The Gift of Questions

But all is not lost. The late singer and activist Ruby Dee said, “The greatest gift is not being afraid to question.” Black millennial Christian engagement of the Bible, including asking critical and probing questions is a gift. It does not lead to Bible skepticism or doubting God. Rather, asking questions of the text, wrestling with ideas and theology while engaging the world opens the door for deep and resilient faith, fresh encounters with God, and passion to work for God’s justice in the world. And perhaps, if traditionally Black Protestant churches encouraged a culture in which asking questions was cultivated, Black millennials might be more apt to skip brunch on Sunday morning, be present in the sanctuary, and worship a God who is loving, merciful, and big enough to handle all the questions.