Monday, May 2, 2011

What Is This Feeling?

I have a feeling that just about everyone reading this can remember where they were on September 11, 2001.  I found out what had happened when I showed up to my scientific physics class at Westerville South High School.  As I walked into the room, the tv that always hung in the corner (in case we had a video to watch in class) was turned on and tuned in to a news channel.  There was an image of some building and a lot of smoke.  My first thought was that we were going to do some interesting work with fluid dynamics or a study on how fire spread through a burning building.  It didn't take long for me to realize that we weren't going to have a physics lesson that day.  Instead, we all sat or stood in shock at the news we were receiving.

My most prominent memory of that time is that I couldn't seem to process anything.  The events of the day leading up to that moment are fairly clear in my memory.  I left my French 3 class and made a stop in the commons to buy a bag of Harvest Cheddar Sunchips to eat on the way to physics.  From the point of entering the classroom on, things are a bit hazy.  The one thought I can remember having is simply wondering if this was real or just some elaborate hoax.  As far as emotions go, I don't remember feeling anything.

Last night, I got a text message from a dear friend saying that Osama bin Laden was dead.  Perhaps it's because I haven't fully recovered from Holy Week and Easter yet.  Perhaps it was that it was so late after a long Sunday.  Perhaps it was that the news was simply too much for me to take in.  Regardless of why, I remember having that same feeling of emptiness as I tried to process the news that Osama bin Laden was dead.  This is where the beauty of social networking has, once again, been made unavoidably present in my life. As I was spending some time on Facebook today, I noticed that a lot of my friends have posted something about this news.  The best news to me is that, so far, most of these posts, while using different words, are all saying the same thing.  This is probably best summed up by Todd: "Celebrating death is tacky.  Please stop."  A number of other posts have gone on to include prayers and Bible passages to more fully express why celebrating death (even of a known terrorist) is "tacky".

On friend made a post to his blog called Mourning After.  Another wrote a note on Facebook explaining his reflections.  Others simply quote Scripture ("But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you" -Luke 6:27; "Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble" -Proverbs 24:17; "Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live?" - Ezekiel 18:23) and prayers:
"O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." -Prayer For our Enemies, Book of Common Prayer, p. 816
Many thanks to all of my friends who have helped me to process this situation and reminded me once again of the difficult and seemingly counter-intuitive way of life we Christians are called to follow.


  1. I'm not much if any of a Christian beyond growing up with it. But even I don't really feel any joy out of hearing it. While it is newsworthy I just don't feel alleviated from it. Maybe it's because there are others who are willing to fill in those shoes but I think moreso because it doesn't accomplish anything. Killing Bin Laden now has no affect on the fact that the twin towers got hit that day. All it does it is grant some vengeance but vengeance at best is only temporary relief or happiness. In all honesty while I think it may have been impossible to I would much rather have had Bin Laden go through trial. At the least there I think I would have felt justice was followed through to the end.

    Your friend,

  2. Bill, thanks for stating what I forgot: that it's not uniquely "Christian" to not want to rejoice in the death of another person. Osama's death will not change the past, but, hopefully, we as a world can find some way to move forward from this point.

  3. I am so glad I looked at this today. I felt confused about my feelings all week. I realized the human emotion, but was very uncomfortable about the "celebrations" and "chanting". This blog really helped me realize that I wasn't the only one that felt this way. Thank you