A Day to Remember


Here’s a question for September 11, 2013.  Is remembering this day in 2001 when terrorists attacked our nation a good and helpful thing or a bad and harmful thing?

As one friend of mine pointed out on Facebook, for those of us who were old enough in 2001 to be aware of what was happening, remembering is an inescapable thing.  How could we forget, short of losing our cognitive ability even to recall to mind that overwhelming day?

I suggest that remembering 9-11 means more than one thing and that what matters is how and toward what end we do our remembering.  In what direction does our act of recalling that day take us?

Does it make us more aware of the sufferings, humiliations, and griefs of others in our world?  Within the United States, “others” means people not of our own family, social group, or “type” as we type ourselves in contrast with people who somehow differ from us.  Beyond this nation, “others” means people of other lands and nations, other religions and economic systems, other cultures and languages.  Has our day of horror taught us to be more understanding and compassionate?

Or does remembering make us more self-centered, isolated, fearful, and belligerent?  Does it constrict our sense of shared humanity and focus our attention and concern more narrowly upon our safety, prosperity, and national interests?

Has our concept of “us” widened since September 11, 2001, or are we becoming more them-versus-us than ever?  What have we done and what are we continuing to do with the horror, grief, anger, frustration, and desperation we remember very well?

Eight Years Later


Because today is September 11, I went back and re-read the sermon I preached on September 16, 2001 in our Sunday service turned into a memorial service for the people killed in the terrorist attacks upon our nation. In the months that followed, I preached more sermons that sought to deal with the ongoing grief, anger, and issues from that awful day. Later, I put those topical 9-11 sermons together into a book with essays between them. The book, called, Why, God? has never been published but remains on my Web site.

My idea was to preserve the sermons written and preached on specific dates along with brief reflections written somewhat later but still within the context of that time in our nation’s life. In light of events that followed in our national responses to the outrage and tragedy of that day, I re-read the book with sadness, but for today, I’ll read only the immediate response in memoriam and maybe some others that help me remember the people we lost and those who loved them.

For any who wish to read the sermon, you’ll find it here at the start of the book. Be careful, the sermon is only the first three and a half pages.