Sunday, September 10, 2006

"Let Us Remember 9-11-01"

That was the quote on a sign in front of St. Michaels and All Angels church, which John and I walked past last night during a walk with his mom. The sign irked me, but I'm not sure why.

Is it because the phrase "let us," is typically reserved as an invitation to prayer in the English language. So let us pray what about 9-11? For the still grieving familes? Absolutely, but then Let Us Remember 4-19-95, the date of the Oklahoma City bombing, as well as 12-7-41. Did those immense tragedies translate to plastic letters on church signs, those pithy distillations of "Christian" values, five years later? And are we really in danger of forgetting 9-11? Memories of that day are as clear for me as those from last week.

The cynical part of me (my friend Marc said he wants to create bumper stickers that say "cynical is the new happy"), suspects its author means, "Let Us Pray that God Smokes 'Em Out and Kills Every Iraqi Insurgent." This prayer will be said in unconditional love, of course, and despite the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. Or perhaps for the more informed its "Let Us Pray that God Helps the U.S. Capture Osama Bin Laden and His Kind" or "Let Us Pray that Whoever Dares to Commit Heinous Crimes on American Soil Again Be Brought to Justice."

I'm fine with those last two, and that one about bin Laden still needs answering, for sure and should be expanded to include the legion of Osama wannabes coming up behind him. Too bad the majority of our troops and an increasing amount of our military resources are tied up in Iraq in ways that detract from those efforts.

Now ABC/Disney wants to air what Pam Spaulding calls the "factually inaccurate, Bush-stroking terror porn, Path to 9/11." ABC admitted that it has dramatized some of the events in order to make them more dramatic. Yes, let's do remember 9-11, but let's at least try to remember it accurately, because one thing I do remember is that "factual errors" in the days after 9-11 led us straight into Iraq and a quagmire that is quickly bleeding America dry.

But maybe I'm wrong about the sign makers motives. Could it be that this is what the author of the sign at St. Michael's had in mind?

"Lord, we are still hurting from all of the things that happened on 9-11. Death came to our doorstep and claimed scores of us at once in a way that we could not imagine before. Calling home in one violent day a chunk of America--people of all races, religions, political leanings, sexual identities, rich and poor--a small world. We can hardly believe it happened even today.

Help us to remember that the United States--still beautiful, unique, and strong--is now officially as vulnerable as any other place on this planet. Please let our more clearly articulated status as a world citizen fill us with humility, not fear; compassion, not suspicion; wisdom, not revenge.

Give us the grace to make choices that reflect the highest of our values, not knee-jerk reactions and ignorance. Let us know you as the balm of Gilead, patching us up, strengthening us, helping us to live on in calling and in love. Amen."

Even if it wasn't the sign maker's intent, this is my prayer, and I guess I have St. Michaels church to thank for encouraging me to get on my knees.


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