Responsible Remembering: 9/11 & Now














A friend of mine who is Muslim (and 9 months pregnant!) lives near the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, and every year, like everyone else with enough yard space close to the gates, she and her husband use their grass for State Fair Parking.  She recently shared on Facebook how, as she was cheerfully sweating and directing cars into spots, she was suddenly verbally accosted by a couple of guys yelling racially charged jokes at her on their way into the "great Minnesota get-together."  This opened up a discussion where others began sharing their grief at similar, painful experiences.


I have shared a few thoughts here about the jarring experience of returning from South Africa- where I was given an anecdotal and broad crash course in their history, work for reconciliation, and striving to build a "rainbow nation" unified in their diversity, where all are respected.  (The poignant and powerful South African Constitution is worth a read!)  

The horrors of apartheid and the ease with which a nation slides into something so inhumane were fresh on my mind when I landed back in the US to the reverberations over a Muslim Cultural Center near the former World Trade Center Site, and a fringe pastor in Florida's plans to burn the Quran on the anniversary of 9/11. 

Still mulling the powerful ways that violent and abhorrent circumstances were used to unite instead of divide, where forgiveness was held side by side with remembering - so that a whole nation might be transformed, I am hopeful that we might be similarly inspired and taught by our own experiences.  
And I do find it ironic that thanks to Pastor Terry Jones and his tiny congregation in Gainesville, FL, American Christians now find ourselves in the uncomfortable and tragic position of having to explain to the Muslim world that beliefs and actions of a few extremists do not represent the rest of us or our faith.  (May God use this to deepen empathy for our Muslim brothers and sisters...!)

It is important that we talk about what is happening in our nation, and consider the role each of us plays - if not by overt participation in hateful or ignorant words or actions, than perhaps by our apathy and avoidance.  I am particularly aware of the discomfort and challenge this presents to me as a follower of Christ Jesus in a troubled and fearful world, where, if I am honest, I am always obligated to ask, What is God doing here and now, and how am I called to participate?

So, in recognition of the anniversary of 9/11, I invite you to consider some excellent and thoughtful resources to stir discussion and deepen reflection on, and engagement in, some of the issues stirring up pain and division in this world that God deeply loves and is working to heal and restore.

(I will add articles and resources as I come across them, and I invite you to share some as well!)

Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero: A Frontline Special, with wonderful resources, discussion questions, and interviews available at the PBS website.
Eleven Days in September: A collection of poetry and reflections seeking to "respond" rather than "react".
Loving Your EnemiesA Sermon from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
After the Attacks: A Spiritual Challenge: An extensive collection of articles on Beliefnet.com
What would Jesus Do? Burn the Koran or Eat with his Muslim Neighbors?: A thoughtful piece by Eugene Cho, blogger and co-founder of One Day's Wage.
America's Crucial Choice: Religious Division or Unity: An article by Eboo Patel looking at the history of religious strife in America and offering some helpful suggestions for building connections
The Implications of Calling Cordoba House a "Mosque" A helpful article from Sojourners by Melvin Bray clarifying terms and challenging assumptions

Muslims, Ground Zero, Fear and Fairness: An article from Patheos by Greg Garrett, Baylor University professor.


American Muslims are Not Responsible for 9/11 An article from Sojourners by Jim Wallis.


Heartsong Church Welcomes Memphis Islamic Center Another of the many contrasting stories that don't as often get told...


A Call for Respect for Muslim Neighbors: An official release from the PCUSA




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