Getting Inside the Mind of the Enemy

A prayer and sermon in response to the terrorist attacks.

Delivered September 16th.

For the past five days, we have been bewildered because we have the world's mightiest army, yet the Pentagon was bombed. America is the world's richest nation, yet its greatest twin symbols of capitalism are smoking rubble. The president says terrorism will not stand, yet he does not know where the enemy stands, and we do not know how to stop random terrorist attacks by suicide bombers. The destruction and death dwarf loss of 2400 military and 49 civilians at Pearl Harbor sixty years ago, but then we knew who the enemy was and where to find them.

We have been watching "reality TV" this week, and have discovered that it is not about small groups of self-absorbed people playing contrived games in remote places. Real reality is about people who know in the depths of their heart that no one is an island, and that the deaths of others diminish and frighten us all.


This is the bloody, almost paralyzing background against which we gather here to grieve, to nurse our fury, to weep, and to be with one another.


It was so much worse when it came
It was so much worse than they said.
So much more violent than we could imagine.
Whoever tried to guard us from suicide and mass murder,
Why couldn't you have been stronger?
Why must we see, hear and feel this?
Even when we spoke of "the horror,"
We didn't expect this horror.
The attack was more dramatic, the dead more numerous,
Than we wanted to know.
In so many ways, we would give up almost anything
For the return of our innocence.
We pray we may be protected from the demons
That made those few throw their lives away,
Throwing away so many others with them.
We pray we may move beyond the terror and into heal-ing.
Let this awful numbness pass,
And return us to life and to hope.
We are so very fragile.
So here, in desperation and determination,
We fling this simple prayer outward and inward,
To all the gods and all the suffering souls
Who will listen. And we say simply: Be with us.


Where do we begin? For me, it began in anger--in fury. When I heard of the destruction of the World Trade Center towers and a section of the Pentagon on Tuesday, I wanted loud, bloody revenge. I thought "Kill the bastards!" I didn't know just who the bastards were, but I wanted them dead.

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