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Music Monday – 9/11


Wasn’t really going to do much on this blog for 9/11…especially not on Music Monday…heck, I wasn’t even going to go online yesterday at all (and for the most part, I did…stayed the heck away from social media for instance). But then I loaded up my RSS feeder, read through the latest Internet Monk posts, and found one by Eagle. And it needs to be shared far and wide.

Reflections on Disappointing Reactions – 9/11

Loved…well, appreciated what you wrote, Eagle. It was good. I really wish you had been around the Internet Monk community back when Michael Spencer had been alive, I’m sure him and you would have had some great discussions.

This was telling –

The experience in the Jesuit Catholic Church service contrasted with my experience in Campus Crusade for Christ that Tuesday evening of September 11, 2001. I remember walking into the Student Union and then into the room where Crusade was. My staff director was almost giddy and talked about how his wife was watching TV when the other plane flew into the other World Trade Center Tower. Another student leader for Campus Crusade told me, “Dave, the End Times are here….and the rapture is going to happen soon! When it does happen I want to be in a skyscraper so I can fly into the air and be with Jesus!”

In my corner of independant fundamentalist Baptist, over here in Minnesota, not so far removed from Milwaukee…I didn’t experience that. However, I heard about that happening in dozens of other places.

Let me share what happened for me on 9/11.

I was in 11th grade, 16 years old. None of my teachers would tell us what was happening, but we knew something was going down. This was before cell phones and certainly before laptops with wireless internet were common or even allowed. I think at some point the administrator came on the intercom and told us something was happening, but this may be wishful thinking on my part. My parents worked in the same building but in the seminary wing, so I had “privileges” my other classmates didn’t. At some point I snuck upstairs to the seminary break room where a tv had been set up, and I watched the footage of the towers falling. I didn’t see anyone rejoicing. I saw lots of people crying and praying.

One more story from the actual day, 9/11. There was a seminary professor that I didn’t get along well with; he was very strict, very fundamentalist, and hit all my button issues of the day, like believing all rock music was of the devil. He was a bit of jerk. Also, he was of Arab descent, very clearly so, and in fact may have been a former Muslim. That day, I found myself in the break room with him, him eating his dinner while watching the footage on tv. It was just him and I in the room. And he turned to me, and offered me some of his dinner, and we shared a meal together. We actually sat and talked, and it was good conversation. It was the only time he was ever nice to me and put me as a person before his beliefs.

Here’s some memories from the proceeding weeks. My church had a time of prayer for the community I believe that same week. The school’s attendance was either mandatory or strongly encouraged, not sure which. I had scheduled my driver’s test for that day, so the whole morning I was absent from classes and then arrived at school during the middle of the community prayer service. I remember everyone being sober, lots of crying, lots of praying, maybe a hymn or two. Certain nothing more.

When the nation held that time of prayer live on tv, and Billy Graham got up to pray, I remember that afterwards our seminary student bible teacher was harshly critical with Billy Graham for not immediately preaching damnation and repentance from that big of a pulpit. And my class was livid with our teacher, angrily arguing with him to the point he had to shut us up and continue on with class. Heck, I was angry. That wasn’t the time and place for a hellfire gospel message. It was a time to mourn and comfort. But he couldn’t see it. That man still to this day is a pretty hardcore fundamentalist, amongst people even worse than him, yet he was still a nice, likable guy apart from his beliefs. It’d be like if Brad Pitt was a terrorist; you’d love him and hate him equally.

I think that was the one nasty instance I witnessed of Christianity during 9/11. Most people were mourning and sympathetic, very few were angry or rejoicing. But I saw another flipside to Christianity during 9/11 that has stayed with me til today. I will argue up and down the block that U2 is a Christian band, Bono and Edge and Adam and Larry are Christians, and that they make Christ honoring music. And after 9/11, U2 was America’s band. They and they alone played New York and other cities across America when everyone else was too afraid to fly. They knew America needed a brief moment of joy and comfort amidst the trajedy. They brought the Holy Spirit to America while the church largely wasn’t. Songs such as Peace On Earth and Walk On have no context for me apart from 9/11. And when they played the Superbowl that following February, and showed the names of those who had lost their lives while playing MLK, America cried. And then American shouted for joy when U2 played Where the Streets Have No Name and the Comforter comforted us.

So 9/11 brings to mind many different memories. It cemented my love of U2 even deeper than it had been. It showed that there are some Christians out there who know there is a time and a place to mourn. And it exposed some evil and wickedness that needs to be dealt with.

So here’s Music Monday. U2 at the Superbowl 2002. The biggest expression of joy and courage America could have had at that moment.

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