Sep 11, 2011
The 9-11 commemorations are over, and perhaps America, now, will get back in the saddle she was knocked from a decade ago. I am afraid not, however. For 10 years I have been a pretty lonely man on this issue. I take back seat to no one in my love of country; I bleed red, white, and blue; and was as angry as anybody then who did not actually lose a loved one in Manhattan, Virginia, or Pennsylvania.
Someone recently asked, “Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001? Did you wonder, then, how changed you might be 10 years later?” I have to admit that I thought ahead to Now, and I dreaded the premonition that in 2011 America would be engaging in self-pity instead of righteous anger; political correctness instead of correct politics; and the further ceremonialization of our culture.
I take nothing from the awe-inspiring service of first-responders who lost their lives on 9-11. But they were not heroes because they, in some instances, ran into burning buildings, in order to seek people to save. They were doing their jobs. They were brave; they were extraordinarily courageous. But – I am making a point about our society’s changing and confused values – a fireman is not a hero because he dies in a burning building. Firemen and police are heroes; and sometimes they have to do dangerous things. Heroes live among us, and should be honored now, not only in show-biz (usually, these days, secular) “moments of silence” ceremonies.
I hope I am being clear; and I mean to say that words are important, because essential values lie behind words. I recently spoke to a group about America’s current crises, and I asked various questions about the victims of terrorism, concerning 9-11. The group’s discussion addressed the three sites of attack; the number of people who were killed at one place, and another, and on the planes.
I told them, and I submit to you, that the people who died on 9-11 were not the victims of terrorism. They were, simply, murder victims. To call the perpetrators anything than murderers is to pay them a compliment. Using the word “terrorism” makes their crime somehow qualified, less than totally monstrous. The dead on 9-11 were murdered. We, the survivors, were terrorized.
We are the victims of terrorism. And we are losing that war. We have allowed our way of life to be altered, our rights to be restricted, and our treasury bankrupted. The hard questions about what has happened in 10 years cannot sufficiently be answered by a shrug of our shoulders and another question, “What else could we do?”
Here is what I mean about the ceremony-mad society. When Redcoats attacked citizens in Boston, the patriots did not meet for annual Moments of Silence – they grabbed their muskets. When Fort Sumter was shelled, a war commenced; and when Fort Sumter was re-taken, there were no plaques with every soldier’s name – the Stars and Stripes was proudly raised again. Pearl Harbor filled us with anger – not sorrow or guilt.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Franklin Roosevelt of all people, the president of the United States, led the nation in a public prayer on D-Day: “Help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice. Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.”
Back to the 9-11 Decade. Let the diplomats explain why America kicked into overdrive on a crusade for global empire. Let the politicians explain why personal freedoms were expropriated at a breathtaking rate. Let the financiers explain why criminal monetary and fiscal policies – prosperity that was too good to be true – was too good to be true, and they all knew what they were doing.
But we should all look for Christians to explain (and that means looking in the mirror, too) how the last decade has seen an unprecedented war on Christianity, a successful war, right here in America. To start a list of outrages – from high courts to low sitcoms, from the national Administration to everyday textbooks – would fill more columns than the web could carry. Babies killed; homosexuality sanctioned; God’s name banished from schools and the public place; prayers outlawed.
If the attackers were bent on kicking America out of the Middle East, they failed. If they wanted to bring down the government, it did not happen. If they intended to destroy the economy, it has bent but not snapped. But if they attacked America because we were a Christian nation, founded on biblical principles and inheritors of a Christian heritage… America has responded, in too many respects, by declaring a victory – for the attackers. Happy anniversary.
Anti-Christian prejudice is on the rise in places like Pakistan and Egypt – partly, I am sure, because of America’s post-9-11 policies – but there is one major difference: in those countries, and China, and North Korea, and elsewhere the church is under attack… the underground church is growing. However, not in America. Here, persecution seems to lead Christians to be even more apologetic to the atheists or Satanists down the street who are offended when they hear a Boy Scout recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Christians must cease being confused about what Christ would have us do when His church, His children, are threatened. He put righteousness above “peace” in the Temple, and surely would not have His church dismantle itself. That would not be “love,” but camouflaged weakness; and to compromise with evil, guarantees the presence of evil. Once upon a time, the church was as militant about its turf as it was its faith, for one thing was necessary in order to exercise the other. Not only Christians but Christendom was muscular in its self-defense. If it were not for Christian warriors like Charles Martel at Tours; Charlemagne and Roland at Saragossa; and Jan Sobieski at the Battle of Vienna, Europe would long ago (1200 years ago) have been Muslim. And the Reformation, for all of its intellectual and spiritual force, only succeeded in Europe when princes identified themselves, and their armies acted, as members of one form of Christianity or another.
These Christian warriors, despite and subsequent to occasional zealotry, largely made Europe safe for the practice of Christianity. “Terrorism” is just the latest form of invasion. The invaders have discovered a society more concerned with opponents’ “feelings” than its own freedoms and children’s security. When the president of the United States declares in an Arab capital that America is not a Christian nation; and when the mayor of New York City prohibits public prayer at the latest 9-11 media ceremony… well, you can go back to, say, the epic poem “The Song of Roland” (circa 1050) and read of traducers in the ranks of the Franks at Ronceveaux, and what almost happened, in that stirring legend, to Christian Europe.
Christianity, in any society or country, cannot simultaneously assert its right to exist and surrender its prerogatives. We do not need to lead ugly crusades in order to affirm our traditional status in the United States of America, a Christian nation. But we do have to decide whether the 9-11 Decade was the last breath of a brief, misguided period of self-doubt; or the first dawn of extinction in this culture.
From the ancient opera Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell, an allegory about William and Mary based on Virgil’s Aeneid. The hauntingly mournful “Dido’s Lament” is here juxtaposed with photographs of the traditional American landscape. Our homeland once and…
“When I am laid in earth / am laid in earth / May my wrongs create no trouble, no trouble in thy breast. / Remember me! Remember me! / But, ah, forget my fate!” The singer is Emma Kirby.
Click: Remember Me Lament