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More responses to killing of Osama bin Laden

More responses to killing of Osama bin Laden

More thoughtful responses to the killing of Osama bin Laden:

Forgive bin Laden? Dalai Lama’s surprising view

From Faith and Reason from USAToday online

The Dalai Lama teaches detachment as part of releasing oneself from suffering, and takes such a line on compassion that he won’t swat mosquitoes supping on his blood.

. . .

While Buddhist understanding, and most western religions, counsel compassion, even forgiveness for the evildoer, “Forgiveness doesn’t mean forget what happened.”

Dancing on his grave

by Dan Webster in Episcopal News Service

I was caught off guard. I did not expect to see spontaneous displays of glee at the death of Osama bin Laden. But then I’ve never understood the celebration of the death of any human being. Somehow our God-given humanity is diminished when someone celebrates the violent death of another child of God.

The chanting of “USA” over and over, the singing of the national anthem all had a surreal feeling to me. My first reaction to a Facebook post that called those actions patriotic was quick and direct. That was nationalism, not patriotism.

But it was the singing of “God Bless America” that cut to my heart. I have wrestled with my Christianity and war since 1965 when my Catholic high school in San Diego organized a march to the federal building in support of the Vietnam War. I had to make a decision that day. I chose to sit in the library. There was too much evidence in the scripture I had read even by then that supported a peaceful, nonviolent response from those who would try to follow Jesus.

So fast forward to Sunday night, May 1, 2011. As I watched the president tell us of the military action that ended a 10-year manhunt I reflected on my sermon that morning — are we admirers of Jesus or are we followers. It was a question that theologian Soren Kierkegaard puts forward. Do we just like the idea of Jesus and what he did or do we really try to follow in his footsteps? Do we really find ourselves telling people to “put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52) or, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45a)?

I can’t dance at death

by Buddy Stallings, posted at St. Bart’s (NY) Website

It is a scene I will never forget. Late on September 11, 2001, having watched the towers fall literally hundreds of times by then, I finally left my friends and colleagues in San Francisco with whom I had spent the day, almost unable to move — so hypnotized by the horror of it. I remember getting to my apartment and, of course, immediately snapping on the television. Like so many who did not live in New York City, I imagined incorrectly that my helplessness would seem less if I were not so far away, feeling somehow that watching every moment was the least I could do.

Just as I was falling asleep, I saw a new scene on the screen, images of people in other countries dancing for joy in the streets. Nearly three thousand people had been killed, and there was rejoicing. Though this seems incredibly naive now, I was shocked, somehow realizing at that moment in a new way that we were in deep, deep trouble.

Osama Bin Laden was an evil man, monstrously twisted by hate and the certainty of religious absolutism. I am glad that he is no longer able to spew his vitriolic and incessant call to violence. My guess is that the courageous men who stormed his compound had no choice; Bin Laden died as he lived, violently with a weapon in his hands.

But I will not dance at death. I will not tell others, unless asked, how they should respond. But I will not dance. Sanctimonious? No. I make no claims of moral superiority, knowing full well the slipperiness of that slope. Nor do I claim scriptural authority or purity, again knowing that I can be out-thumped by any number of thumpers.

I am simply fearful that the damage such rejoicing would bring to my soul — a soul, which has lived long enough already to be injured by the reality of life — would for me be beyond repair.


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Richard Weinberg

Thank you, Jim, for your comprehensive and continued compilation of thoughtful reactions.

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