Monday, September 12, 2011


I spent a pretty normal Sunday yesterday--church, then council meeting, then back home for some reading and a bit of writing. I watched no television, save for a few choice scenes from It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World--which I know by heart already. I purposely bought no newspapers. Nor did I purchase any of the requisite commemorative magazines. In short, I completely avoided taking any notice of 9/11. Our little town pulled off a large memorial service at the halftime of our homecoming football game on Friday--complete with a field-sized flag, fly-overs, and a ladder truck from the NYFD. They even borrowed our antique bell to ring in commemoration. We didn't go. My wife and I did not even talk about it during the weekend. This morning's local headlines were of the Tyler extraganza at the megaBaptist church, with firefighters and police front and center, American flag videos running continuously on both movie screens flanking the podium, and a rousing medley of patriotic songs, which is all appropriate, I suppose, if your religion is Americanism, rather than Christianity.

I do not discount the horrendous human tragedy of that day. Human carnage is sickening--all of it. I suppose the thing is this: I cannot divorce the events of 9/11 from everything that has come afterwards--our lost, fearful disastrous decade which shows every sign of becoming a lost, fearful disastrous generation. I'm not saying we should forget--far from it. Remember the tragedy and the lives lost in the conflagration. But the event and--God forbid--our response, should not define us as a nation.

I find it hard to express exactly what I want to say, but I am largely in sympathy with the sentiments of the following articles.

Pat Buchanan

Patrick Foy

Tom Engelhardt

Andrew Bacevich

A superb collection at Tipsy Teetotaller

And this from Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick:

Orthodox Christianity is about coming face to face with death, grappling with death, and wrestling it to the ground. It is not about accommodation to this world. Those who prefer to be accommodated to this world will always be utterly devastated by moments like 9/11, because they cut so sharply into the comfortable complacency of a consumerist culture. For them, it is true that nothing will ever be the same. But those who will not surrender, those who will not be defeated by death or by the world that death holds in its thrall, those who have put on Christ and struggle to put on Christ every day—they cannot be destroyed.


Anonymous said...

Here's another good article that attempts to answer the question, "Are we safe enough?"

Kirk said...

That was me, by the way.

Milton T. Burton said...

The Bacevich article was wonderful, as always. With the passing of Kennan he is our single outstanding foreign policy thinker.

Anonymous said...

How did I get here? That is, from where I was in my youth to this place. I cannot say.

It is a strange thing to feel that one does not know their own mind, but that others know it better.

I cannot be quite so hard on those who know of no other way to honor the dead but with spectacle. I was, I am, one of them.

Though I read all these articles I am met with a better mind than the one that usually occupies my logisoi, I am still not ready to put down the flag or the gun or Ben Franklin's "where liberty is, there is my country."

I've watched too many episodes of Andy Griffith. Boy Scouts still lingers in my mind. And walking through the Reagan Presidential library, well... I was surprised that my heart still honors what I believed he was (and actually was to some large extent).

Perhaps it is all a fantasy. I suppose it is in the Christian sense. But it is a very real fantasy, the sort of fantasy that gets men killed (even if it cannot bring them back from the dead).

John said...


Good points.

It's not that I don't know my mind, for I think I do. What I often don't know is how best to express it.

I'm not much on spectacle, and have never picked up flag or gun to be able to put them down. I'm just not the flag-waving type, and my post from back on July 4th tries to address how that was instilled in me, from the beginning.

I do recall, however, getting misty-eyed at the exhibit showing the "Four Freedoms" at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Springfield, MA. Also, a couple of scenes from the movie "Shenandoah" will do it as well.

John said...

Make that "Stockbridge, MA."

JKeys said...

A few days ago I watched a segment on a national news broadcast about steel pieces salvaged from the Twin Towers were being distributed all over the country for display. There was a flat bed 18 wheeler with a fragment of steel strapped to it going slowly into a city in the midwest. Along the side of the road there were observers holding up flags in solemn tribute to the carnage of that terrible day. It occurred to me that the observers were paying homage to a relic of the religion of "americanism" and their flags were icons of their devotion.

Anonymous said...

We say we want the Truth (capital T intended), but the Truth would kill us if we saw it face to face. Moses had to be shielded and only see the passing (the "back side") of glory lest he die.

I cannot argue with JKeys. I should very much like to. But mostly I know that there is only so much of my own sin I can stand to be aware of before I despair.

The sins we despise are not the problem, it is the sins we love that are killing us.

Praise be to our Lord and Savoir who has overcome the sin of the world, even my sin.