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Reflections on 9/11

Reflections on 9/11

Tomorrow marks the 14th anniversary of the destruction of the  9/11 attacks on World Trade Center Towers in New York, the Pentagon and the downing of Flight 93 over central Pennsylvania.

Ministry Matters has posted a reflection from Christian Hawley who was an Air Force officer on that fateful day and is now a priest on Remembering Well.  In it he offers a series of short ruminations on the nature of the event and our responses to it, including some such as:

We are never innocent. The 9/11 terrorists did not attack the National Cathedral or the National Archives, our symbols of Christianity and democracy. They destroyed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the heart of the American military-industrial complex. Having been on the front lines of that complex, and having seen how American greed and arrogance exploited and demeaned other cultures, I can understand the terrorists’ frustrations and anger. I still condemn their actions.

Love anyway. It is better to live as a fool for Christ than as an executioner for justice. We rarely learn this lesson until it is too late, which is why we have more soldiers killing themselves than being killed in combat.

Never forget. Memory is a kind of immortality. It is no wonder the Process Theologians couch life after death in the memory of God. To remember, especially through story, is to sustain, to resurrect and to commune with those who have gone before us.

We are never beyond redemption. I have seen more grace in combat zones and prisons than I have in churches. People can change, and God always works through the unworthy.

Go read them all

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Philip B. Spivey

Rev. Hawley's perspective about 9/11 resonates so profoundly with me because what he's accomplished is to express a level of witness that is "pure" Jesus.

Jesus, the victim, is hurt, offended and yes, frightened, but never utters vengeful words. The United States took the catastrophe of 9/11 and fashioned a modern crusade against Islam from it. Ostensibly, to remove a "vicious dictator" and capture WMD. We know better now, but what is not so clear and transparent are the real motivations for this unprovoked attack. Our leaders manufactured a provocation and we asked no questions.

Can we mortals find compassion for the pilots who destroyed the World Trade Center? Probably not. Can we show enough compassion for humankind not to create new victims? We could have, but we didn't.

Perhaps most importantly, can we -- Christians---see how we've been bamboozled into supporting yet another national war in the name of "all that is Holy and Righteous"? Every time we wrap ourselves in God and the American flag just before we are about to hurt somebody, we can be assured that Jesus is somewhere with a very painful lump in his throat.

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Bill Simpson

Rev. Hawley's piece is one of the few mature things I've read or heard spoken about 9/11. Usually when the anniversary of the Wold Trade Center and Pentagon attacks comes around we get too much sentimentality. What gets forgotten is how quickly the events on 9/11 got woven into a maudlin narrative of aggrieved innocence that was then used to justify the Iraq War. But pain in New York and Washington ought never to have been used to validate the greater pain the United States inflicted a few years later--and continues to inflict now. Awareness of the sin of toxic grief should never be separated from 9/11 commemorations.

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Lynn Hade

Thank you.

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