‘We Just Have to Stay Prayed Up’ - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
‘We Just Have to Stay Prayed Up’

I learned about the killings in Charleston Thursday as I was driving around the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, across its flat gray endless horizons. At first, I could not believe it was possible. This is 2015, not 1964. I know and love South Carolina and spend much of the year in Greenville. I have never seen more harmonious race relations anywhere.

But it was true. A deranged 21 year old with a brutal paranoia and a brutal gun had killed nine people just as they sat and prayed.

Little by little the news filtered out. As is always the case, he did not have many friends. His parents were divorced. He spent a lot of time playing video games. He had drug problems. Recently, he had reportedly been put on a potent opiate called Suboxone often used to get people off illegal street drugs like spice and bath salts. I know the subject well. 

So, it’s a story about kids and guns, about drugs, about hate — he told his victims he was killing them because they were black and were raping white women. It’s just a horrible story. I thought about it all day as titanic lightning and thunder storms barreled through the Eastern Shore and across the Bay.

When I got back to my apartment at the Watergate, along with my friend Bob, I told our night manager, Mrs. Colbert, a black woman, how humiliated and ashamed I was about the killings. “They were just praising God,” she said. “How could he have shot them?”

“I don’t know. He is evil. He’s a sick racist. He’s a drug addict.”

“We just have to stay prayed up,” Mrs. Colbert said. “Just stay prayed up.”

I thought about that and I asked Mrs. Colbert if we could all pray. “Yes, let’s have the Deacon lead us.” At that, the night porter, a black man from Guiana, Mrs. Colbert, Bob, and I joined hands. The night porter, a Deacon in his church, said a moving prayer of praise to God and faith that His purposes would be revealed.

When he finished, I said to Mrs. Colbert, “May I add this: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” but then I broke down and Mrs. Colbert finished the prayer “…for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever amen.” I was still sobbing and Mrs. Colbert took my shoulders and said, “It’ll be all right, Mister Stein. It’ll be all right.”

God help us.

Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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