Culture At Large

9/11 - then and now

Josh Larsen

To conclude our series on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we asked a handful of regular Think Christian contributors to respond, in 100 words or less, to the following questions:

How did you feel in September of 2001 in the wake of the attacks?

How do you feel 10 years later?

What role has your faith played in this process?

Here's what they said:

Caryn Rivadeneira

I remember my colleagues and I watching the towers fall. Us gasping, then going silent. Us praying - offering up husky voices, shaky hands to God. Asking that he would rescue the hurt. Comfort the families. Guide our leaders. Forgive our enemies.

Then a question: “How does it feel to be pregnant, bringing your first child into this world?” a colleague asked me.

“Scary,” I said.

I know now that “scary” should’ve been my answer even on Sept. 10. The world’s always been scary. Always will be. Jesus said so in John 16:33. He told us this so we might “have peace.” So we can “take heart” knowing that he’s “overcome” the world.

Since 9/11 - goodness, since becoming a mom even! - those words can be hard to believe. But I cling to them still.

Paul Vander Klay

As a boy, the towers grew as I grew.

I watched them from my bedroom window in my father's house.

Years later, now as a father, not a boy, west coast, not east.

The phone rang. "Turn on your TV!"

Disbelief.

Apocalypse.

Beasts rise from the sea to devour many bodies.

Stars fall from the sky, the sun is darkened, the heavens roar.

Two were in the office, one was taken, one was left.

We sought one like a Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven.

Ten years pass.

Normalcy returns.

The illusion of our dominion reasserts.

Apocalypse forgotten.

The Son of Man a lifestyle choice until that day returns.

John J. Thompson

I distinctly remember a deep feeling in my gut that life would never be the same and that the rage I was feeling, and seeing around me, was a very dangerous thing.

I am very disappointed in the excessive, wasteful response our government has conducted with our blessing. I am heartbroken that we don’t seem to have learned our lessons. I fear for my kids’ future and pray for God to embolden the church to stand up to the war machine and materialistic corporate Neros of our day.

I feel that my faith has deepened, and as a result it has re-shaped my worldview in major ways. I realize how much faith I had placed in the chariots and horses of my government. I realized how complicit I was in the greed-fueled economy that exploits the world and fosters devastating poverty. I love my country, but I need to always love God, and my enemies, much more than my flag.

Bethany Keeley-Jonker

The Sept. 11 attacks, combined with the Columbine shootings in 1999, forced me to grow up into the idea that you can never be 100-percent safe. Perhaps this is something everyone realizes as they enter adulthood and learn their parents are humans. After 10 years, I am even more aware of how little humans can control things. This has taught me an important faith lesson: God is present even when things seem and are out of control. Our security is in God, not in our attempts to protect ourselves from tragic disasters or from smaller dangers.

Stephen Hale

The morning of 9/11, I sat with my fiance and cried as we watched planes slam into targets across the East Coast. I felt like these attacks thrust two Biblical themes into my face, and I've wrestled with them since then: love of neighbor and enemy, and the pursuit of justice.

Since then, I’ve gone to college to understand the Islamic world, because it was too hard to love my neighbors when I didn’t understand them. As I’ve come to understand the Islamic world more, I can see human beings, loved by God, where I once saw a mysterious hole in the map full of people that hated me. Ten years later, I am exchanging fear of Islam for the love of Christ.

This is the final installment in Think Christian's Ten After 9/11 series, reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Previously, Brian J. Auten explored the concept of a Biblical sense of security; Jeff Munroe asked if missionaries would have been a better response to the attacks than soldiers; and Gideon Strauss considered the question: “Did 9/11 make America a more, or less, Christian nation?”

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, Faith, News & Politics, North America