A Long Obedience

Such Small Hands has a quote from Eugene Peterson on "Discipleship in an Instant Society.

There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.

This quote came to mind when I read the NY Times story about Eduardo Delacruz, a New York City police officer on the Homeless Outreach Unit suspended for refusing to arrested a homeless man back in 2002. His job was first to homeless people find shelter--but that was later changed into arresting them and getting them off the street. Delacrus was suspended for 30 days, and faces a disciplinary hearing this summer than may cost him his job.

"My position in life is to treat people like I want to be treated," he told the Times. "That's what Jesus taught. That's what I instill in my children."

Office Delacruz has learned something about the "patient acquisition of virtue" in living with the consequences of his decision. Unlike the movies, where he'd be a hero, Delacruz faces the loss of his job and his pension.

He stands by his decision, though he told the Times he would make a different decision today.

Officer Delacruz now says that if faced with the same situation he would "comply with whatever I was told to do." He did not see it as betraying his ideals, but as a way of sparing his family more suffering. His faith, he insists, remains.


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