What is the Spiritual Meaning of 9/11?
This post was written by Mel Lawrenz
I find this week’s cover of Newsweek magazine for the 10-year anniversary of 9/11chilling. It is simply a brilliant blue sky and in the upper right corner the underside of a jetliner frozen in a moment of time before calamity.
People are starting to tell their 9/11 stories to each other again. Where were you? What were you thinking? How did it affect you?
I’ve heard numerous people who were in New York that day talk about what a spectacularly beautiful day it was. Clear blue sky, sunlight, crisp late-summer air. That detail sticks out in people’s minds. And for most of us we were doing the things we do in the fresh part of the morning, for my wife and I, attending a parents’ meeting at our daughter’s school. Early September Tuesdays after the Labor Day weekend are new and energetic. Time to get the pattern for the year set. Routine in a good way.
Then the sky was torn open. Like a tearing of cloth that separates one room from another, suddenly there was an opening in our familiar world that allowed a grotesque monster to enter our lives. The planes in the sky, like scissors cutting through fabric, opened our fresh September to a terrible midnight.
What are we making of what happened then?
Terrorism is not the whole story. That is just the chosen technique of subversives who can’t afford real armies. Radical Islam is part of the story, but not the whole story. It is true that religious zealots have in the past and will in the future assault humanity in the name of God, despite the Genesis warning that all the Abrahamic faiths should know: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man” (Gen. 9:6).
Geo-political or socio-economic tensions are not the whole story.
We know none of these things are the whole story because the 9/11 attack was a conscious, pre-mediated, coordinated act by human beings against other human beings. Some evil entered the nineteen hijackers such that they could work for months preparing the heinous deed. Something made their blood go cold. These men lived for months in hotel rooms where they watched television, ate potato chips, and drifted off to sleep, living with their explosive plan in their heads day after day without their minds splitting apart. How is that possible?
The meaning and the mystery of 9/11 goes to the core of the human heart. How could this have happened? How could those men do that? What other atrocities are people capable of? This is not what we want to think about. It is more comforting to focus on winning a war against terror. Of guarding the borders. We gladly take longer going through security at airports.
9/11 was a human tragedy, played out on a human stage, perpetrated by young human males with real names. But we know there was a monster behind it all. On 9/11 the prince of darkness had his way, yet the limits of his reach were soon evident as we witnessed the acts of heroes of that day and the months and years that followed.
As I write this the large windows at my back look out to a perfect September blue sky. The trees are shaking in the breezes, and people are going about their routines. I don’t live in fear that something is going to streak across the blue and tear it today. But I know I have to think back ten years and remember that a spiritual war is going on in unseen places at all times. Evil will not give up, but God, by his very nature, cannot give up. We all have to keep growing up.
Do you have a comment? What are your thoughts about the meaning of 9/11?
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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 8th, 2011 at 11:30 am and is filed under Christian Thought, Real Life.
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