9.11 is mine.
What I mean is, I’m a New Yorker. I was living in the city at the time. I have a friend who lost his son. I smelled the burning rubble and walked the streets in a daze and spent my nights at Union Square, watching people sing and debate and search for meaning at a time of meaninglessness.
9.11 is mine.
It is, perhaps, yours too. We all have our stories. All have the “Here’s what I was doing …” tales to tell. I was watching TV. I was talking on the phone. I was sleeping. I was eating cookies. I was …
Truth is, 9.11 is ours. Collectively. We carry the weight. In many cases, we carry the burden. Why do certain people die tragically and certain people (ourselves included) live? It’s about timing, and location, and being at the wrong—or right—place at the wrong—or right—time.
What I do know—what I am 100 percent certain of—is that 9.11 does not belong to Christians. Or Jews. Or Muslims. Or agnostics. Or athiests. It does not belong to a religious group, or a spiritual organization. It has no ties to Pat Robertson or Rabbi Steve Rubin or anyone of that ilk. Perhaps religion helped some people make sense of it all, but, really, how can that be? How can anything make sense of the senseless?
I’m babbling. A couple of minutes ago I picked up today’s New York Times, and my hands are still shaking with rage. On the front page, atop the fold, is a story headlined OMITTING CLERGY AT 9/11 CEREMONY PROMPTS PROTEST. Included in the piece are these two paragraphs:
“Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has come under attack by some religious and political leaders for not including clergy members as speakers at Sunday’s official ceremony at ground zero on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.
“At the same time, some evangelical Christian leaders said they were outraged that an interfaith prayer service planned by the Washington National Cathedral did not include a Southern Baptist or other evangelical minister.”
Right now, I want to vomit. But, alas, I have yet to eat breakfast.
As I’ve noted on this blog before, I dig faith. I understand faith. I get faith. Whenever I hear the story of someone dying for a couple of minutes, then having the experience of floating above his body and watching the paramedics, I think, “Hmm … maybe.” That’s faith, I suppose. However, whenever I hear the story of some religious group expressing anger over this exclusion or that exclusion, I am reminded how absolutely, positively inane organized religion can be. I mean, here we are, on the lip of 9.11’s 10th anniversary—a horrible, traumatic time for so many people—and there are so-called spiritual gurus complaining about not being included? Really?
Here’s the truth, Alan Wolfe (director of the Bosi Center for Religion and American Public Life—and a chief complainer) and Richard Land (president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission—also a chief complainer) and Gretchen Carlson—Fox News’ talking dolt—and also a chief complainer): This is not about religion. It’s not, it’s not, it’s not. If people want to use religion as a tool; as a utsensil … wonderful. Great. Fine. But nobody—outside of yourselves and your immediate relatives—cares whether or not a Southern Baptist preacher is invited; whether we evoke the name of Jesus or not; whether the events have less religion and more humanity.
You are fossils of a bygone era, when religious groups were able to bully their way into mainstream prominance. We are an increasingly secular culture. Fewer people buy what you’re peddling. Even fewer want to see some lavishly dressed fast talker pacing the stage, talking about God’s will.
We are America, the land of separation of church and state.
Consider yourselves rightly separated.