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Home arrow Blog arrow August 2010 arrow September 9, 2010: 9/11 and 9 years

September 9, 2010: 9/11 and 9 years
September 9, 2010: 9/11 and 9 years  UPDATED @ 6:20 PM EST

 




On this September 11th, Terry Jones, a fundamentalist pastor of a small church in Gainesville, Fla., together with 50 of his followers, had planned an Anti-Christ action of religious hatred and intolerance, to be expressed in a public burning of copies of the Qur'an.

 


On September 9th, Pastor Jones canceled his plans to burn Qur'an heeding an international outcry that drew criticism from President Obama and religious and political leaders across the Muslim world.

Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove Outreach Center also said that the leader of a Muslim group that wants to build a 13-story Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero has agreed to relocate the center, but this agreement has not yet been confirmed.


 

Book burnings of the Hebrew Scriptures were orchestrated in the Middle Ages by the Catholic Church and in the 1930’s the Nazis burned all the Jewish books in Germany.

 

This September 11th, is also known as Shabbat Shuvah, the Sabbath of returning and renewal between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

 

This September 11th follows the last days of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, prayer, purification, forgiveness and renewal.

 

President Obama called on Jones to "listens to those better angels and understands that this is a destructive act that he's engaging in. If he's listening, I hope he understands that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans, that this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance. And as a very practical matter, I just want him to understand that this stunt that he is talking about pulling could greatly endanger our young men and women who are in uniform. Look, this is a recruitment bonanza for al-Qaeda. You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan. This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities."

 

 


Up until THAT DAY we call 9/11, I was your typical self-satisfied, self-centered, uninformed, misinformed comfortably numb American.

THAT DAY, changed everything, and even though I did not know any of the innocent who were terrorized, vaporized, agonized nor their families or friends, I had a visceral connection and a dream the third week of June 2001, that made some sense on THAT DAY we call 9/11.

THAT DAY also inspired me to research and learn WHY did some people in the world hate us so much that they could target and murder innocent people?

I learned PLENTY!

And being a Christian Anarchist of The Beatitudes; meaning I follow what the Master taught-not any pastor or institution, and what is non-negotiable if you claim you be a Christian is that you wake up and comprehend that to be forgiven; you must forgive and to follow him means you must pray for, bless and love your enemies-not to burn their holy book, sanction, bomb, torture, or militarily occupy them!


Jesus also promised that it is the Peacemakers who are the daughters and sons of God.


And so, after 9/11/01, I was also led to the Interfaith non-profit Olive Trees Foundation for Peace, founded by a 1948 Palestinian Muslim refugee from the Galilee, to journey seven times to Israel Palestine and write about it.

What follows, is CHAPTER 10: THAT DAY excerpted from KEEP HOPE ALIVE my first of three books.



Khaled, now seventy-five and a newlywed since July, turned to Fatiha and cried, “This madness must stop. Retaliation only ups the ante, and the wheel is still in spin. But I am nearing my end. I have been dreaming of mass communication for decades and olive trees my entire life; now, I must act!”

Within hours of viewing the tragic news that stopped the world on that Tuesday morning, Khaled phoned his many friends: Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others to gather in downtown Orlando at Lake Eola.

He told everyone, “Praying for peace without action is like praying to win the lottery and never buying a ticket. But unless we work for peace, saying ‘peace, peace, peace,’ means nothing. If we want peace, we must work for justice.”




Jack had been restless for three days. Julianne was in New York City at her sister’s home and wasn’t due back for three more. His knees began throbbing more the moment she drove out of sight on the morning of September 8, 2001.

After returning home on Monday night from the BLAC/Brother Lawrence Addictions Center, Jack mindlessly ate two Lean Cuisines, then spent the rest of the evening trying to read. He fell asleep just before dawn and dreamt he was on the blacktop running track at the middle school where Julianne taught seventh grade English, where they both roller bladed in the early mornings before the students arrived on campus.


Jack spent a ten-hour day at the BLAC, as its founder and administrator. The mornings on the track were when the couple had their best conversations. He inhaled the aroma of tar as he wondered what was keeping Julianne from him. He bladed for what felt like hours, when a silver spandex-clad apparition with a golden helmet flew by, sharply turned, and with a backward stroke, called out:

 “Hi, Jack, don’t look down; don’t look back; look out straight, Jack, look out straight, don’t look back!”

“Yeah, I can; I can do that,” Jack replied, but the apparition had already vaporized into the distance.

And then Jack rolled onto an exquisite grace, knees freed from bone-on-bone grinding and not an ache in his fifty-three-year old body that had been abused by two motor vehicle accidents and hours of overuse syndrome. Jack glided on the blacktop effortlessly for hours, when suddenly, a roar of thunder assaulted his senses, and his eyes were magnetized upward, to view two fireballs thrown down from on high, miles from where he stood. He saw them hit the ground; one traveled east, the other west, and then they circled back around, burning a path straight towards him. Just before they collided, Jack woke up, not believing he had only been dreaming.

Not until after he had downed a pot of coffee did the phone ring. “Jack? Are you watching TV?" Maureen, the day supervisor at the BLAC inquired, as she fingered the framed mission statement that sat upon every employee’s desk and on the north wall of every resident’s room:


‘Peace, peace, peace. God’s peace be upon you. But living today in a time of war, crying out peace, peace, peace, where there is no peace. Fearing age and death, pain and darkness, destitution and loneliness, people need to get back to the simplicity of Brother Lawrence.’
[Dorothy Day]

Brother L was a monk in the 17th century, who lived in a monastery and was consigned to the kitchen. He spent his life baking bread, chopping onions, scrubbing pots and floors. He also ran all the errands, did all the shopping, and always brought back the finest of wine. He loved his brothers deeply, but they merely tolerated his many eccentricities, or he was totally ignored.

Truly, I tell you, if ever a saint was born to bring hope to the addicted and those afflicted with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, he is the one. For Brother L learned that by continually re-remembering the Lord, no matter what the activity, or where one might be, the Lord was ever-present and a holy habit was born, just re-remembering that.



Jack thrived on curiosity and spoke as he reached for the remote. “Mo, you know I never watch TV in the daytime; what’s up?”

“Well, isn’t Julianne visiting her sister in the city?”

“Yeah, in fact, today’s plan was to meet her sister’s co-workers on Floor 101 of the North Twin Tower.”

“Jack, turn the TV on.”

“Oh, Mo, I just did; my God, is it the end of the world?” He spoke as he hung up the phone and never heard Mo say, “I don’t know.”

Jack knew in his bones that Julianne had been vaporized as he recalled a song he had first heard at a Bob Dylan concert in 1981:

See the massacre of the innocent
City’s on fire
Phones out of order
I see the turning of the page.
Curtain’s rising on a new age.
See the Groom+ still waiting at the altar.

And then, II Chronicles 6:1 welled up within him: “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.”






Dr. Jake Hunter heard the news that stopped the world for a day from his third patient of the morning.

Terese didn’t know until Jake called her before his next patient.



Kat had been dancing in her loft studio in Panacea, Florida, all morning, ignoring neurological symptoms. She did not turn her cell phone on until 11:45 a.m., and then gasped, “Christ, who died? The entire Hunter clan has called me. I’ll phone Mom,” she said, just as “Let it Be” chimed from her cell.

“Hi, Kat, I have been trying to reach you.”

“Mom, what’s the deal? What’s going on?”

“Turn the TV on.”

Kat did and gasped, “Oh my God, is it the end of the world?”

“Nobody knows.”

“Mom, I am coming home. I’ll bring Bob; I think I’ll stay awhile.”

“Okay, okay, drive carefully.”

Kat packed three weeks’ worth of clothes, put Bob, her blue-eyed cat, in his kennel, and wrote a sign for the front door that read “KATZ STUDIO CLOSED UNTIL???”


She taped it to the door and never looked back again.

“Bob, I have been dreading telling dad about my symptoms, because I don’t want to admit them. But, I have been summoned from the land of denial and must face the facts on the ground. If I have the dreaded Gehrig’s disease like my cousin Nick, I will be livid. He was a saint; I am not. I am not dancing as I once did; I don’t glide anymore, I have gotten clumsy, and all of these muscle twitches are driving me crazy! I am pissed! I am too young for this! Oh Christ, I hope it is just a bad cervical spine, like Dad’s. I can live with the pain, but I must be able to move about, or I’ll go nuts. Nick was a saint even when he couldn’t move, but I will be an unholy terror if I can’t dance. Bob, if I have ALS, will you please just shoot me and put everyone out of my misery?”


Kat sighed deeply and popped in a favorite mix she had burned of Tom Petty and U2, and then lost herself in the music until Bono began to wail:

If I could yes I would,
If I could, I would let it go
Into the half light and through the flame
Into the light and to the day,
Let it go and so to find the way,
To let it go, and so to find the way.
I am wide awake, I am wide awake, wide awake
If I could, you know I would:
Let it go:
Desperation,
Dislocation,
Separation,
Condemnation,
Revelation,
In temptation,
Isolation,
Desolation,
Let it go and so to find a way
I am wide awake,
I am wide awake,
I am wide awake, wide awake!

Kat mused, “Strange, how seeing that horror on TV woke me up to some things, too.”


The Sunday after that day the world stood still, the Hunters’ seven children and eighteen grandchildren had gathered together. Everyone was down at the lake except for Jake, Terese, and Kat, who were in the family room.

Jake contemplated Kat’s chances of having ALS or a bad neck, and brooded.

Terese said, “There’s an interfaith gathering today in Shea Stadium, and I want to view it.”

She turned the TV on just as the shofar sounded in New York City, and hundreds of priests, rabbis, sheiks, and clerics of all kinds somberly filed into the stadium in front of a sorrowful nation. Kat became luminous. “Wow, look at how beautiful all of that is! All of those holy ones in their uniqueness and all the shades of people in the stands reaching out to each other — how blessed we are in America to live among such diversity, and how beautiful it is to see us coming together out of such sorrow. This is the way we can let the pain go: by reaching out to the stranger, we comfort them and heal ourselves. America’s worst day has brought us and the world together. Why, it’s only a few angry mad men who did the evil; the international community can confront this together, by confronting this evil as sister and brother.

"What an incredible opportunity America has been given to lead the world this way and not seek revenge. Imagine the dysfunctional family of Father Abraham building on this momentum, to confront the evil that is terrorism, by confronting it with good and unity among us. Didn’t St. Paul say that the only way to resist evil is with good?

"Imagine how much better the world will be when America chooses not to use military power, now that we all know our nuclear arsenal cannot protect us American’s will want to discover why these mad men did this evil and go after that! The global village is the community to address this issue; terrorism is everywhere, and now America has woken up to the fact that we are not immune. We are all in this world together; we will either learn to share this world as sister and brother, or we will blow it up.”


Terese responded. “Kat, human nature is to strike back and seek revenge, but we have the witness of Christ, Gandhi, and Reverend King how to effectively respond to violence. I hope and pray this president follows their ways, but I see hawks circling.”

Jake cleared his throat and intoned, “Another thing is that acting out of fear makes one do stupid, irrational things. You know I have always said to never ever react out of fear, for the gospel says fear not! And fear drives out compassion and hardens the heart.”

Kat was mesmerized by the TV, Terese sighed deeply repeatedly, and Jake brooded.



In a log cabin nestled within the thickly wooded mountains of upstate New York, Jack sat in a darkened room with the TV on, but he wasn’t watching. When the shofar blew and grabbed his attention, he froze until the ram’s horn went silent, and then popped open his sixth beer of the day, for Jack had fallen off the wagon.



+The Groom in Christian lingo is Jesus Christ


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"HOPE has two children.The first is ANGER at the way things are. The second is COURAGE to DO SOMETHING about it."-St. Augustine

 "He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust." - Aquinas

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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

© 1968, 2001 Kent M. Keith

" In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."-Mother Teresa


“You cannot talk like sane men around a peace table while the atomic bomb itself is ticking beneath it. Do not treat the atomic bomb as a weapon of offense; do not treat it as an instrument of the police. Treat the bomb for what it is: the visible insanity of a civilization that has ceased...to obey the laws of life.”- Lewis Mumford, 1946



The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



“Any nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a nation approaching spiritual death.” - Rev. MLK
Establishment of Israel
"On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the Establishment of Israel
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