13 September 2008

911 reflection

I have been thinking as many perhaps have, about September 11th.

On the 11th, I did nothing special. Sue-z put our flag out on our porch which overlooks a construction site at the moment. She was remembering our national pain, not making a political statement -- a good thought.

Our town is re-paving the street. Nothing special there, simply concrete and gravel as the workmen proceed with a long planned project.

Yes, the morning news carried the dedication of the Pentagon's memorial site. But Jamie wanted me to make her breakfast and so I was distracted by the exuberant chatter of a four ear old.

There were no special events in my town. I suppose various political candidates made speeches or attended events. Nothing special, that is what they do incessantly as we approach November.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, violence continued.

I wonder why? Jesus told us not to fight wars but to love.

As I think about 9/11 I think that our going about our daily tasks, loving grand babies, paving streets, playing baseball, working our jobs and making pancakes are what will defeat the terrorists. Perhaps, maybe, I can justify our intervention in Afghanistan. After all, the country was being terrorized by evil pseudo Moslems. But I am less and less sure. Maybe, just maybe, not accepting the idea that violence is the correct response we defeat the terrorists.

So I suggest we make pancakes or grilled hamburgers. We should study, work, play baseball or go swimming. And I have a suggestion for a new liturgy too. We need a prayerbook litergy of forgivness. A series of prayers and readings that make the commitment we sometimes overlook in the Lord's Prayer a part of our response to "national days." You know the commitment right? "Forgive our sins in the way we forgive others sins that harm us." That is what we should do on September 11th.

I wonder if the next GC could authorize something? First explicitly disavow the errors of the last GC and second a new litergy of forgiveness. That would be enough and more good than they are likely to do.

Please pass the maple syrup.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you. The best "in-your-face" to terrorists is to show them that they won't change what is re important...Living..and living well. My cup runneth over,

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,

Not much that I can agree with here.

In the first place, the passing of an anniversary of a national tragedy should be a "special" time... a time of prayer for the victims... a time of prayer for their families... a time of prayer for the very real damage that was done to our common life... and yes, a time of prayer for the perpetrators and others who hate us.

In the second place, what you have done with your rather free "translation" of the Lord's Prayer is significantly in error. That particular prayer does not talk about "forgiving sins", but about forgiving those who sin... ourselves by God *in the same measure* that we forgive others.

So, it would, for instance be perfectly appropriate to call the 911 tragedy an unforgivable act, while at the same time forgiving the perpetrators, the planners and those who cheered them on. In fact, to do otherwise (on either account) would be less than human.


JimB said...


If the national day of prayer was for the victims, I suppose I could live with it. At the moment, however, the sense I have is that a lot of the remembrance is in fact seeking vengeance. I recall Mr. Bush's comment that, "we will bring them to justice or bring justice to them" referring to el Quida. I thought it a neat turn of phrase and a bad idea then and I still do.

As to the free translation, I see very little difference actually between forgiving sins or sinners. In fact, Jesus says "your sins are forgiven" several times in the Gospels.

I don't think I pushed the translation that far. If we are to be forgiven as we forgive, then yes, the reciprocity issue does arise and our refusal to forgive is a problem. Nationally, I think we have that problem. I for instance have no doubt what would happen to Mr. bin Laden were he captured.

I don't believe there are unforgivable acts, and forgivable actors. We are what we do.

Thanks for the note! It is always good to hear from you.

Anonymous said...


There are two issues here:

The first is fidelity to the text. There is no way that the Greek of the text can be translated to say what you purport it to say. I appreciate that you "see very little difference actually between forgiving sins or sinners"... but that simply doesn't make the text conform to your sense perception. It says what it says, no matter how you see things.

If you had chosen to *interpret* it to *mean*, "forgive our sins in the way we forgive others sins that harm us", and to be a "commitment" rather than a supplication, I would still disagree with you... but I would not have raised an objection... the same way I do not raise objections to certain idiosyncratic interpretations that drive you up a wall on that other forum.

As dangerous and off-the-wall as I think Ray's interpretations sometimes are, they are, at the end of the day, just opinions, and not very likely to convince anyone. On the other hand, a bad translation can live for a *long* time. Just look at how long and seriously Augustine's mis-translation of Rom. 5:12 from Greek into Latin has impacted Western Christianity.)

The second issue is that I am somewhat surprised that you do not see the difference between a proclamation made by the divine Logos, "Your sins are forgiven", and the supplication uttered by a sinful human in prayer, "Forgive us our sins as [in the same measure that] we forgive those who sin against us". You might want to read Matt. 18:23-35 in this context. There are close parallels in that passage to this section of the Lord's Prayer.


JimB said...

DJ, I am afraid I am a bit lost here. If my sins are forgiven, but I have committed an unforgivable sin, where am I?

I read the prayer as a requirement that I attempt (I will fail) to be as forgiving as I have been forgiven. I for the life of me cannot see how that does violence to the text. I am simply missing something here I guess.

As to that other location and its most creative thinker, I do not understand how he can come to the conclusions he seems to reach without committing what I can only call idolatry -- treating the Bible as in itself holy, while ascribing what I can only call magic to it. It is amusing to me at times that he brings Robin and me together, both saying no to his idiosyncratic approach. Maybe we should make him ABC! Then there would be unity!


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