- The Place of Public/Civic Prayer.
- Great empire, little minds.
- S’il n’y a pas de solution …
- The Empire, of necessity, will end.
- Scott Cairns on 9/11/01
- Bill Clinton at Shanksville.
I reported yesterday that some Evangelicals had their knickers in a knot over exclusion from National Cathedral memorials. Be it noted here, if nowhere in mainstream media, that their reaction is not universal.
Mollie, a Lutheran, at GetReligion.org, does the usual GetReligion thing by musing on what the press misses:
In The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, Darryl Hart writes about how academia and the media view Protestants as mainline vs. evangelicals, which both fails to appreciate how similar those two groups can be (if unaligned politically) but also neglects the swath of Protestants that aren’t as political or engaged in civil religion. It’s a good book to read to see how the typical view of Protestants seen in the media can be too simplistic.
Mollie specifically links to a Missouri Synod Lutheran and a Reformed pastor (both “conservative” in conventional parlance, which I’ll not pause to question beyond the precatory quotation marks), neither of whom would participate if invited.
I would refuse, too, in the highly unlikely event I were invited. I have had my fill of pronouncing, or hearing, fatuous little unitarian ditties at mixed-faith civic assemblies. I increasingly question how any person who really prays, or even just tries to pray, could ever engage in the gelded parodies of prayer that our civil religion demands.
To be a loyal American is to shudder at the footage of the World Trade center ten years ago today. The attack was deeply evil and deranged, and that a religion, or even a perversion of a religion, could produce a substantial cadre of disciplined terrorists to carry out such an attack is profoundly unnerving. None of them informed. None of them, seemingly, had second thoughts.
But that cannot excuse all that’s done in the name of, or consciously posed against the backdrop of, 9/11.
Pat Buchanan commemorates What Terrorism Has Wrought, starting after Bush’s initial success in Iraq, whereupon, “full of hubris, the conquering hero went before Congress.”
The Christian community has been destroyed. Half the Iraqi Christians have been uprooted. Half of these have fled into exile, though Christians have lived in Iraq almost since the time of Christ.
“A great empire and little minds go ill together,” writes Buchanan.
“Tell me your 9/11, and I’ll tell you who you are,” writes Roger Cohen at the New York Times, in a worthy and powerful reflection on that dreadful day.
Feisal Abdul Rauf tells a 9/11 that involved “Muslims” who, because they killed innocents, were no more Muslim than Anders Behring Breivik was Christian:
That’s a much harder thing for Christians and Westerners to accept. In the immediate aftermath of the horror in Norway, Western news media leapt to the assumption it was the work of Muslim terrorists.
When I launched my effort last year to build an Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan as part of reconciliation after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the vitriol hurled against me and Islam was overwhelming. Islam is evil, our critics said. The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim.
It is little wonder, then, that the screeds of the sharpest critics of our community center showed up in the 1,500-page manifesto Breivik wrote to explain his actions. Hate breeds hate.
My 9/11, oftener than not, is that terrorism is not a “problem” because evil has no human “solution.”
But as Philip Jenkins implies in After al-Qaeda (subscription required), fighting evil can be a justification for war and curtailment of liberty.
I suspect that Andrew Bacevich, who calls for an End to Empire at The American Conservative (subscription required), agrees that justification of war and curtailment of liberty has indeed been the result of 9/11, to our great detriment:
How could 19 thugs armed with nothing more than box cutters have caught the indispensable nation so completely off-guard?
Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld did not disagree with the claims of American prescience and prerogatives expressed by Clinton and Albright. Sharing in the view that the United States was indeed an almighty superpower, they merely wanted to assert that power more aggressively. After 9/11, they had little difficulty converting George W. Bush—hitherto proponent of a humble foreign policy—to their view.
As Richard Perle and David Frum, co-authors of the agitprop classic An End to Evil, put it, “There is no middle way for Americans: It is victory or holocaust.”
Yet the crusade that Perle, Frum, and their confrères so vigorously promoted did not unfold as expected. Launched with high expectations of victories won with Superman-style ease, the Global War on Terror turned out to be a long, hard slog and soon enough lost its luster. Over the course of his two terms as president, George W. Bush succeeded chiefly in running the United States military into the ground and the American economy off the rails. Along with victory or holocaust there turned out to be a third possibility that Perle and Frum had overlooked: exhaustion resulting from our own folly and malfeasance.
I suspect it is from the title of the Perle and Frum book that I’ve sometimes misremembered Dubya’s second inaugural as declaring eradication of evil as our national policy, whereas he really declared the two-clicks-less-crazy policy of eradicating tyrrany.
Poet Scott Cairns commemorates this anniversary, at the Huffington Post, by publishing a poem he wrote ten years ago today.
I’ve been preparing this for a few days, and last night there was brought to my attention a very fitting memorial talk at Shanksvill, PA, by none other than William Jefferson Clinton, who in honor of these fine remarks will escape any snide comments, just this once. (HT Rod Dreher)
Todd Beamer, who attended Wheaton Academy 20 years after I was there, helped bring down Flight 93 at Shanksville. I believe it was he who uttered “Let’s roll!”
* * * * *
Pray for peace and justice.