“People speak sometimes about the ‘bestial’ cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.”
― Fyoder Dostoyevsky
12 years ago today I sat in 8th grade choir practice and watched with my best friend as terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center towers and Pentagon. This event is what you call a defining moment. A defining moment is a moment that impacts and shapes you and your thinking about the world and life. I truly believe that those of us growing up in the post-9/11 world have been impacted by these events. The “bestial cruelty” of these men, their wicked works, has drastically shaped how we view sin and humanity. Robert Webber reflects on this in his book “The Younger Evangelicals“:
The postmodern September 11, 2001, world has led to the recovery of the biblical understanding of human nature. The language of sin, evil, evildoers, and a reaffirmation of the deceit and wickedness of the human heart has once again emerged in our common vocabulary. The liberal notion of the inherent goodness of humankind and the more recent evangelical neglect of the language of sin and depravity have failed to plumb the depths of the wickedness that lurks in the human heart. The younger evangelical approaches humanity with a more realistic and biblical assessment of our estrangement from God.”
We in the post-9/11 generation have indeed had our thoughts affected by the wicked, cruel events of this day. We are no longer naive enough, despite Liberalism’s attempts, to believe that humanity is full of warm fuzzy feelings and goodness. Anthropology is a very complex, nuanced thought. I do not believe humanity is beyond redemption nor do I believe that we aren’t capable of doing good.
We are incredibly complex beings that are paradoxical. We are capable of so much cruelty as Dostoyevsky says, but we are also so capable of extreme acts of kindness and goodness. The events of 9-11 have left those of us growing up in this world after the fact in a place of recognizing the depths of evil that can come forth from a human heart.
Let us not forget of the countless acts of charity, love, grace, and good will after these events. My main reason for writing this reflection is to hold in balance and nuance the anthropological and hamartiological revelations these events have revealed. Let us come to contemplate upon the orgins of men and why we are the way we are, but also the saving grace and redemption of Jesus Christ who through His death and Resurrection defeated sin and death. He can change us ontologically and reorient our hearts towards Him, towards goodness, love, and peace.
Our government is currently wanting to aid the very group of terrorists who flew these planes into our buildings 12 years ago today. President Obama is wanting to arm these men in order to help them overthrow the government of Syria. If this doesn’t show you the irony and complexity of human nature I do not know what will. Let us never forget the events of 9-11-2001! It seems our government has already forgotten them.
Those of us shaped theologically and philosophically by the impact of these events know all to well the realities they brought forth. As we recognize and deal with human evil and suffering daily let us take heart in the will of humanity to do good, to seek peace, to seek justice, and to seek reconciliation.
I want to encourage you to be in prayer throughout the day for those who lost their lives 12 years ago and for the families who still feel the tragic events deep in their hearts. Pray for the souls of the departed. Pray for peace in Syria. Pray for humanity that we may come to recognize Christ and our sin, that we may seek reconciliation with our God who grants us peace in our hearts.
O God of spirits and of all flesh, Who hast trampled down death and overthrown the Devil, and given life to Thy world, do Thou, the same Lord, give rest to the souls of Thy departed servants in a place of brightness, a place of refreshment, a place of repose, where all sickness, sighing, and sorrow have fled away. Pardon every transgression which they have committed, whether by word or deed or thought. For Thou art a good God and lovest mankind; because there is no man who lives yet does not sin, for Thou only art without sin, Thy righteousness is to all eternity, and Thy word is truth.
For Thou are the Resurrection, the Life, and the Repose of Thy servants who have fallen asleep, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever unto ages of ages. Amen.