Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11

I've been seeing and hearing some commercials that...disturb me.  They are about the upcoming 10th anniversary of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks.  They have happened with both secular and Christian media.  They all have the same idea.

Let's do something to remember and honor the victims of 9/11by:  planting a tree; doing something nice for a friend or family member (yes, I've actually heard that one).  The list goes on - from helping animals to helping people to helping the environment.

Now let me get something straight right off the bat.  What happened on 9/11 was horrible.  I have not forgotten, nor will I ever.  I remember exactly what I was doing, how I felt, what I thought.  And all of the people who died that day both victims and heroes need to be honored and remembered for their sacrifice, whether it was deliberate or unwitting.  Their friends and family especially, and the nation as a whole, still feel the effects of what happened, and nothing can change that.  I have no problem with the concept of memorializing them.

What bothers me is that it seems like people have taken their own causes (animal rescue, environmentalism, doing something nice) and are trying to give them more significance and power, trying to emotionally manipulate people into joining them, by saying that they're doing it in honor of the victims of 9/11.  I have two words to say about that:  horse hockey.

Let me also say that I don't have anything against animal rescue, environmentalism, doing something nice, or any of the number of other causes I've seen this done with.  They all have their own importance and their place in the world.  It is important that people be passionate about them, and donate their time and resources to facilitate them.

But when they try combining the two, trying to lend weight to their own cause by linking it to 9/11 in peoples' minds, they diminish and dishonor both the victims of 9/11 and their own mission.  And that pisses me off.

What really upsets me, as a Christian, is hearing Christian radio hosts talk about doing something nice for others as a way of redeeming the events of 9/11, of turning something Satan meant for evil into something good.  That, it seems to me, is a complete misunderstanding of the concept, and just ends up watering down the scripture and the power of God to heal and redeem.

The concept comes from Genesis 50: 19-21 which is part of the story of Joseph.  His brothers have come seeking food and aid in time of drought.  You know, the ones who stripped him and sold him into slavery out of jealousy.  Although they don't recognize him at first, he is finally revealed to them and they are afraid for their lives.  He says to them, "Don't be afraid.  Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  So then, don't be afraid.  I will provide for you and your children." (TNIV)

My problem with the above current application of this verse is that redeeming an evil event, to turn it into something good 1) isn't even possible and 2) isn't something we do.  That god-like power belongs to one person and one person only.  You guessed it:  God.

Nothing can make what happened on 9/11/01 good.  It was unimaginably horrible.  It was indescribably evil.  Nothing can change that.  And anybody who tries is just an idiot.

Did God, who controls all things and allows all things, intend it to accomplish something good?  Perhaps.  I don't pretend to understand how that works, or even how God works all the time.  I hope so, though, and believe so.  In my mind, that would be the greatest way to honor the victims and heroes of 9/11, by ensuring that their sacrifice was not senseless or worthless, but that it had the highest purpose and meaning of all:  to further the kingdom of God on earth.  I realize that's a whole involved theological discussion, and not one I'm prepared to get into right now.  Let me just end by saying:

I honor the victims and heroes of 9/11/01 in my mind and heart.  You are not forgotten.  Your sacrifice is not forgotten.  I hope and pray that God does bring about something good out of that sacrifice.  And to those who lost loved ones at that time, my thoughts and prayers are with you.  May the God of the Universe bring you peace and healing.