History

9/11

Here we are 17 years after the most abhorrent act of terrorism perpetrated on the US in my lifetime. Like nearly anyone else on that day, I remember quite well what I was doing. I was living in New Orleans at the time, attending seminary. I was in my ethics class when someone popped into the room and informed us that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane and that classes were being dismissed. I gathered up my things, headed back to our apartment, and turned on the TV. All I remember from that point was sitting and watching in utter disbelief. What in the world was going on?

Growing up in the 80s, there was plenty going on in the world and in the US to be sure, but I was a kid and didn’t really have a sense of the world stage. I do remember rather vividly the Challenger explosion and that it made me rather sad. In fact, anytime I listen to Dire Straits’ “Why Worry,” I’m taken right back to the newscasts that show the shuttle’s final moments and it saddens me all over again.

Everything that happened after that—the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Gulf War, and much else—has found a place in my memory (though only the vaguest of details remain). However, nothing in my lifetime even comes close to what I saw on 9/11. I was more than 1,000 miles away in my apartment watching chaos beget chaos in NYC, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. I was safe in my apartment and yet this tragedy deeply affected me; however, I cannot even begin to think of how this horrible day must have affected the residents of NYC, the families of those who were killed, and the innumerable first responders, physicians, nurses, law enforcement, and others who threw themselves into the fray to save those who could be saved.

Every year on 9/11, I make it a point to think about that nightmare that became reality. I don’t do it because I enjoy tragedy, nor because I think that my doing so will have any effect on anything else. I do it so that I don’t forget. I know that might sound trite and silly, but there is danger is forgetting the past, or sanitizing it, or bundling it up in conspiracies. Forgetting or suppressing history makes one aloof and therefore vulnerable. Maybe not me individually, but us collectively. I don’t want to see the horrors of that day replayed, but neither do I want to forget.

May those who perished rest and may their families and friends find peace.

History

9/11

It’s hard to believe that fourteen years have passed since that horror descended upon New York City and the Pentagon. It is my generation’s JFK assassination and no matter how much time passes, it will remain indelibly impressed upon my memory. I remember where I was when we got the news and I spent most of the rest of that day in front of the today watching in disbelief. Fourteen years have passed and I can’t imagine that those who lost their loved ones and those who were in the midst of the carnage have even a slightly diminished recollection of that morning. It still defies sensibility that such atrocity could be perpetrated by people against other people, but this has been humanity’s way.

This is a stern reminder not of any inherent danger of religion nor of its practice, but of the incalculable destructive potential of fundamentalism of any sort, especially when it’s charged with a divine sanction. Once your mind is closed to the possibility that you could be wrong about an idea, you’ve begun the descent into fundamentalism. Once there, it’s not terribly far from the maniacal fanaticism that brought down the twin towers, gouged a hole into the side of the Pentagon, brought down the plane in a Pennsylvania field, and ultimately killed nearly 3,000 people.

As a religious person, a Christ follower specifically, it’s beyond disheartening when acts of violence are perpetrated in the name of religion (and certainly in the name of Christ). It’s beyond unfortunate the damage the attacks of 9/11 have caused the Muslim population in general. Muslims are no more terrorists as a whole than Christians are, or Buddhists, Hindus, etc. Extremists, however, are another issue–they don’t represent the populace. They represent a fringe of fanatics whose insular interpretations of texts and culture lead them only to one conclusion–see things their way or prepare to pay the price. This is NOT the way of Christ and anyone who teaches otherwise is a heretic and a liar–they bear false witness against God and Christ.

Let us, as Christ followers, be known by our love for one another and our love for others, no matter what holy book they live by, if they live by no holy book at all, the color of their skin, or what language they speak.

For all those who lost loved ones fourteen years ago today, may you find peace and comfort. For those who risked their lives to save others on that day (and every day), may God bless you with strength to continue in your service of others.

Αυτω η δοξα

Miscellaneous

Things that Fascinate Me

Just a random thought for a post–a few subjects that fascinate me.

In no particular order:

  1. Greco-Roman mythology – This is a more recent development, primarily because of my research interests over the last couple of years. While mythology encompasses a great deal, my primary interests have been mythological monsters/creatures, the underworld, and religion–quite a trinity, eh?
  2. Imperial Rome – There is also plenty of mythology bound up in the study of Imperial Rome! My interests here are less on the mythological side; I enjoy reading and learning about the mystique and personas of the emperors. Yes, some of them were terrible people and committed acts that are grotesque and barbarous to modern minds (probably too for those who were the recipients of their deeds), but other aspects of their lives and influence are quite interesting. I suppose that’s why empire criticism has also been a subject on which I’ve been reading in recent years.
  3. Sasquatch, or Bigfoot – I’m not quite sure why, but I’ve always been fascinated by this legendary creature. I would trace it partly to my childhood when my uncle showed me the movie The Legend of Boggy Creek. Even now I still love that movie, bad as it may be. I have seen/currently watch also every episode of Finding Bigfoot, as well as practically every documentary ever televised on the subject. Do I believe sasquatches exist? Possibly, though without conclusive videographic, biological, and/or other compelling evidence, I’ll remain undecided.
  4. The assassination of JFK – Again, I’m not sure what’s so compelling about this, but I have been intrigued by this tragedy for many years. We were recently downtown and walked over to Dealey Plaza where the whole tragic event sequence unfolded. It was quite eerie to be sure, seeing the window from which Oswald fired his rifle, the yellow X on the street marking where Kennedy was struck, and the grassy knoll where the alleged second gunman was situated. I’m not one given to conspiracies, but I find the various theories swirling about this event fascinating (awkwardly discussed in this scene from Slacker). For the record, I don’t believe Oswald acted alone–there had to be a second gunman.
  5. 9/11 – This one is perhaps the most explicable–it was an event that happened in my lifetime, in adulthood no less. Like so many, I remember where I was and what I was doing when the news of what happened arrived. Every year I look forward to the deluge of 9/11 programs on TV. My fascination is not consumed with the conspiracies–I don’t believe it was inside job–but with the whole story. I should also say that my fascination with 9/11 is not some morbid enjoyment of watching those images and the utter dismay that came in the wake of that day–it was a horror, a tragedy. I suppose my interest in it is more contemplative, though I can’t quite explain it.
  6. Atomic weaponry  – Perhaps the most terrifying possibility that became a reality was the creation of atomic weapons. Like 9/11 and JFK’s assassination, my curiosity here is one filtered through the lens of historical observation and study. I suppose that atomic weaponry was inevitable, but it is one fruit of scientific advancement that most probably wish had never been discovered.
  7. The Mafia – I know, a trend is becoming apparent–I am intrigued by things of a less than savory nature! Like other subjects in this list, I can’t explain this one. I suppose part of my curiosity with organized crime centers on how a comparatively small group of immigrants grew into an organization that wielded unimaginable authority and control over society. I love the movies, the biographies and documentaries, and books about the mafia, particularly the obvious GoodfellasThe Sopranos, and The Godfather.

So, those are a few things that fascinate me. What about you–what plucks your strings of curiosity?

Αυτω η δοξα

Culture, Doctrine & Theology

Post-9/11

Head over to Ben Meyers’ blog Faith and Theology and read Kim Fabricius’ post-9/11 sermon about “the chosen.” It’s well-written and, though you may not agree with everything she says, it’s worth the few minutes it will take you to read it. Here’s a quote:

The Chosen People can in no way be taken to refer to a specific nation-state. To suggest that the United States, or England – or even Wales! – is The Chosen People is sheer hubris based on distorted theology. Even the nation-state of Israel cannot claim the title. No nation-state can. Because after Christ the term no longer refers to a geographical or cultural entity. Because, on the one hand, “being in Christ” has replaced “being in the land”, and, on the other hand, the land has expanded to encompass the whole world. In Christ, all people are Chosen People.

Αυτω η δοξα

History, Uncategorized

8 Years Later

9-11Several other bloggers have shared a few thoughts on today, the 8-year anniversary of one of the most horrific days in recent memory, perhaps in all of American history. I, probably like most everyone, remember where I was that day. I was in my 8:00 ethics class at New Orleans Seminary. When we got word, we sat stunned. I honestly don’t remember much between that moment and when I walked into our apartment and turned on the tv to watch the horror unfold. The images of passenger jets plowing into the Word Trade Center towers are forever etched burned into my memory.

I am only 32 years old and a number of tragedies have forged unforgettable

1a911 memories in my mind, the Challenger explosion and the Oklahoma City bombing, to name a couple. Though I don’t remember much of the days these events took place, I don’t know that I will ever forget 9/11/01. I hope we never do. May God pour out his mercy and grace on those who remember today as they day they lost their loved ones.

Where were you and what were you doing that day?

As an aside, I find it odd that Google hasn’t created one their characteristically clever graphics in memory of that day.

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason