This past Saturday was September 11th.
I was thinking of writing about how I first heard about the news during 7th period of my ESL class in 7th grade, freaking out together with all my hispanic friends; or how I came home and just stared at the big screen TV at the community center for like 5 hours, astonished at the fact that this amazing building that I visited less than a month ago had just blown up into tiny pieces like the leftovers of a cereal box.
then I came across this quote from Shane Claiborne, and I was so moved that I had to concede my entry to this (please read through):
“I saw a banner hanging next to city hall in downtown Philadelphia that read, “Kill them all, and let God sort them out.” A bumper sticker read, “God will judge evildoers; we just have to get them to him.” I saw a T-shirt on a soldier that said, “US Air Force… we don’t die; we just go to hell to regroup.” Others were less dramatic- red, white, and blue billboards saying, “God bless our troops.” “God Bless America” became a marketing strategy. One store hung an ad in their window that said, “God bless America–$1 burgers.” Patriotism was everywhere, including in our altars and church buildings. In the aftermath of September 11th, most Christian bookstores had a section with books on the event, calendars, devotionals, buttons, all decorated in the colors of America, draped in stars and stripes, and sprinkled with golden eagles.
This burst of nationalism reveals the deep longing we all have for community, a natural thirst for intimacy… September 11th shattered the self-sufficient, autonomous individual, and we saw a country of broken fragile people who longed for community- for people to cry with, be angry with, to suffer with. People did not want to be alone in their sorrow, rage, and fear.
But what happened after September 11th broke my heart. Conservative Christians rallies around the drums of war. Liberal Christian took to the streets. The cross was smothered by the flag and trampled under the feet of angry protesters. The church community was lost, so the many hungry seekers found community in the civic religion of American patriotism. People were hurting and crying out for healing, for salvation in the best sense of the word, as in the salve with which you dress a wound. A people longing for a savior placed their faith in the fragile hands of human logic and military strength, which have always let us down. They have always fallen short of the glory of God.
…The tragedy of the church’s reaction to September 11th is not that we rallied around the families in New York and D.C. but that our love simply reflected the borders and allegiances of the world. We mourned the deaths of each soldier, as we should, but we did not feel the same anger and pain for each Iraqi death, or for the folks abused in the Abu Ghraib prison incident. We got farther and farther from Jesus’ vision, which extends beyond our rational love and the boundaries we have established. There is no doubt that we must mourn those lives on September 11th. We must mourn the lives of the soldiers. But with the same passion and outrage, we must mourn the lives of every Iraqi who is lost. They are just as precious, no more, no less. In our rebirth, every life lost in Iraq is just as tragic as a life lost in New York or D.C. And the lives of the thirty thousand children who die of starvation each day is like six September 11ths every single day, a silent tsunami that happens every week.”
— Shane Claiborne (The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical)
So many times we twist the gospel and try fit it into our agendas. We water and pack down the gospel, make it presentable and try to get others to buy into our convenience. And in doing so we lose sight of what THE gospel was supposed to mean for us. me. you. all of humanity. this world. No wonder so many Christians lose their faith along the way, because when they buy into a watered down gospel, faith just doesn’t make sense in certain situations and out of confusion they just drop it all together.