In Market

“Action is character.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald. I thought of that quote last week following the bombings in Boston on April 15. While many, for obvious reasons, ran from the explosions, a great many ran toward the explosions. Perhaps we’ve lost our Pollyannaish view of the world, matured, taken a hard look at reality and accepted that we have to get involved no matter the cost. It’s not a bad attitude to take. As the actor Patton Oswalt said on his blog in what may be the most perceptive writing about the incident: “This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in a while, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.” As a child I constantly wanted to go to the park. Any park, anywhere. Even at night. I remember my mother telling me it was dangerous because bad people were there at night. I’m sure she was right, but even then I thought, ‘If we were all there, we’d outnumber the bad people. Let’s own this sucker.’ O.K., I wouldn’t have said, “Let’s own this sucker,” but I wish I had. Seeing the telling video images of the bombings reminded me of one of the few sermons I heard as a kid that I still remember. The place was West Berry Church of Christ. The building is still there, an edifice of limestone at 2701 West Berry St. that looks like the limestone was just carved into a church. I’m not sure what year it was, probably in the late 60s or early 70s. The minister was Jack Arvin, a man with a great resonant voice, a curious, questioning mind of sharp, intellectual vigor and a heart of gold. He was one of those people that believed in me when he had no right to, one of those people that you say to yourself, “Where would I be without having known that guy?” Despite all that, my paying attention to sermons ranked right up there with interest in wheat futures. But for some reason I remember well his sermon on faith. In particular, his Faith Without Works is Dead sermon from James 2, verses14-26 (Thanks Google!). Maybe it was because in church hypocrisy is so obvious, but it was pretty easy, as Arvin preached, to go row by row and go, “Mr. Jenkins. Faith, yes. Works? Nope, wouldn’t lift a finger to help an old lady cross the road,” “Sam Reynolds. Faith, yes. Works? Poor as the church mouse, but would give you his last penny if need be,” and so on. Yes, it was judgmental, but I was a teenager. So I recalled that sermon. The verses say: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” The answer, laid out by James is “Nope, not by a long shot and don’t try to argue you spiritually lazy hypocrite.” So these people, running toward danger. They showed their character by their actions. Faith? Yes. Works? Straight on yes.   In Market is a column written from the perspective of a plugged-in business journalist about business happenings in and around Tarrant County. Got an idea for In Market? Robert Francis can be reached at