Sunday, September 11, 2016

9/11: A Liturgy

"Liturgy" is kind of a dirty word in some Christian circles - it's often associated with a formulaic approach to faith, a reduction of one's interaction with God to a checklist to follow on Sunday mornings. And it can be that. It has a use, though: a liturgy forces you to deal with things you might otherwise want to avoid. Judges 21, for example.

Today is the 15th anniversary of the 19 men who'd allowed themselves to become blinded by hate and anger, and believing themselves to be soldiers of God, killed almost 3000 civilians and knocked down the buildings of the World Trade Center, and it happens to be on a Sunday. So, today, you get to go through my liturgy, my unblinking stare at the day.

If you're expecting some tearful recollection of the day's events, you'll have to look elsewhere - my memories are fairly dull ones, the sort of things most people experienced that day. This about our memory, our collective memory. But we're in church - that means we have to start with a song.

Sounds really churchy, doesn't it? Yeah. It's about the Hindu god, Krishna, although you might've figured that out by the end of the song there. It sounds like a church song intentionally, though. George Harrison was way more syncretistic than I am, but he intended for the song to bridge the gap between groups of people who were separated by faith, which is kind of a theme for today, so it seemed appropriate.

And now, God speaks. Well, sort of.

God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule

That's a link from The Onion, a satirical newspaper. It was written in the weeks just after the attack and it's raw, angry and, yeah, not necessarily on point theologically. I don't really care in this case. It does what good satire should do because it makes me think of my own insufficiency, my own hatred and all the times I've helped humanity fail to listen to its better angels.

But enough from me. We have a guest speaker: Alan Moore

This Is Information

This is a comic that was originally published in a graphic novel put out by DC Comics in which their writers, artists and employees, past and present, reflected on what 9/11 meant to them. There's a lot of really great stuff in those pages, and if you can get a copy of them, I highly recommend them, but, well, in the meantime, you have these bootlegged pages of what may be the book's most powerful piece.

Alan Moore has a reputation as a sweaty-toothed madman, and he's worked hard to earn that rep and to keep it but here he reminds me most of the protagonist of Twain's The War Prayer after he's had a chance to get a cold drink of water and a bit of a rest. There's anger here still, and sorrow, but it seems more measured and driven toward making that sadness and pain useful, and it is.

I'll let Jon Stewart give the benediction.