Phillip Wheaton, et. Al.
There follows our latest report on a range of ways of commemorating the 9/11 attacks so as to encourage reflection and peacemaking rather than rushing into action, especially into violence.
See the other articles under: "11 Days in September"
Rabbi Arthur Waskow
The Shalom Center
The Unitarian Universalist Association has worked closely with "11 Days" in building a Website for 9/11 commemoration. Check in on its progress at http://www.uua.org/news/2002/91102/.
U.S. Muslims Call for Sept. 11, 2002 "Day of Unity and Prayer"
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Faiz Rehman, Communications Director
ISSUED BY: American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC)
A national American Muslim political council today announced a "National Day of Unity and Prayer" designed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC)*, made up of the nation's four most prominent Muslim political advocacy groups,* called on all faith communities to participate in the national observance by opening houses of worship on September 11, 2002, for interfaith visits, prayers, congregational exchanges, and other activities intended to foster national unity and religious tolerance.
A web site will be established to allow local mosques, churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions to register their participation in the national event.
A joint AMPCC statement read in part: "It is imperative that all Americans come together on the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks to show that we are united as a nation and to reject efforts by any parties, whether overseas or within our borders, to divide the United States along religious or ethnic lines. The Muslim community is part of this country, and we join our fellow citizens in mourning those who were killed or injured on that fateful day."
AMPCC member groups will help coordinate the American Muslim community's participation in the National Day of Unity and Prayer. As part of the AMPCC campaign, a step-by-step guide to holding local mosque open houses will be distributed to Islamic centers nationwide.
Other religious organizations, such as the National Council of Churches, are organizing similar observances.
American Muslim groups jointly and individually condemned the 9/11 attacks.
*AMPCC consists of American Muslim Alliance (AMA),
American Muslim Council (AMC),
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR),
and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
Three Prophetic ReflectionsTowards Developing A New Prophetic Theology of Liberation In Light of September 11th
By Philip E. Wheaton
[This is the beginning of a discussion that is in the "Eleven Days in September" section.]
Prologue: Secular Wisdom and Prophetic Insights on a New America
An unexpected thing happened as a result of September 11th, especially for us religious types: we not only began to hear secular insights on the tragedy which sounded very much like prophecy but we saw how that event shook and silenced us as a people and, most surprisingly, our religious leaders, while sometimes pastorally helpful were seldom prophetic. My good friend, Scott Wright, in response to the Catholic bishops' pastoral Letter "Living with Faith and Hope after September 11," expressed his lament at this prophetic silence, writing, in November:
Where we are disappointed, however, is in the desire of the bishops to present "a balanced document," they have failed to present a prophetic one in such times as these that cry out for justice and for peace.
EPICA, Washington, DC, Nov. 21, 2001
Is this not because in seeking to protect the "Church" (as if the Body of Christ is here on earth to be protected) the good bishops became unwittingly "false prophets" in vainly trying to perpetuate the privileged status which the Church enjoys within our American empire?
And they were not alone. Very few prophetic voices came forward after September 11th from the Protestant churches or from the Jewish synagogues, to say nothing of the "faithful" who followed lockstep, blind and dumb, after President Bush's totally unfaithful cry for us to take sides against the evil ones, saying: "Either you're for us or against them."
His jingoism not only failed to lift our sights towards taking a "higher" moral stance but led us back into the morass of the old Wild West ethic get them "dead or alive" and offering up war as the only solution, war against some of the poorest and most desperate human beings on earth, the suffering peoples of Afghanistan.
And most Americans, a majority of them religious, went right along without questioning or doubting. Was that not because the values of power and the norms of wealth have become so inculcated into the hearts and minds of most citizens, they couldn't even recognize how their pseudo-patriotism was a sell-out on the Prophetic word and a compromise of the Gospel? But several secular voices did speak out, loud and clear, so we should give thanks that God has raised up "children of Abraham from these very stones..." [See the rest of these "Prophetic Rteflections" at the Website listed above.]
By Rabbi James Stone Goodman
Tzimtzum: the contraction or concealment of God
"I was reading last night about the holy Ari and tzimtzum," Andy said.
God is withdrawing. It's a tzimtzum, for sure. I knew it, Andy said.
It's God in conflict with Itself, Andy said. Tzimtzum. God withdraws in the sense that God is still surrounding, but there are places where God isn't, in an inner way, like a bagel.
This was Andy's new take on tzimtzum, Andy's chidush [angle].
If you write about this, Andy said, make sure you mention the bagel. There's this space where God is not, deep in the center, where God allows us to free-fall. What do we do?
Hakadosh Barukh Hu [the Holy Blessed One] is withdrawing, Andy said, but the Shekhinah [the inner Presence] is entirely accessible. But She is the subtext. The Shekhinah. She's subtle. We have not made her overt. Except for Shabbes. Except for the occasional transcendent drop-dead experience of holiness.
Maybe that is what happened to us at shul the Shabbat after nine eleven, I said, we went to the center where it was empty but quiet, and because when we sat in the center emptiness, we knew that all around us, or perhaps underneath us, in the deep story, or around us in your imagery, was God. Still. Waiting.
When we finished praying, everyone just sat there. No one moved. It felt good there, after such a week. The week of nine eleven.
God is waiting for us to redeem the world, Andy said. I am always waiting, God says.
That's what happened at shul that Shabbes, I said, for sure, the Shekhinah, that which was hidden become known, that which was subtle, unloosed. Covert became overt.
You know what Andy? That's how we will remember it, with silence.
We went to the center and I think we were not afraid. We went to the center, where even if God had accomplished a tzimtzum there, a contraction, an emptiness, it was quiet, comforting strangely comforting, was it because it was the center or was it because we had all arrived there together?
The Shekhinah is always entirely accessible, said Andy. On Shabbat she comes out of hiding, and that is why we welcome her so eagerly.
It happens, in spite of ourselves, and no one has the power to interrupt the flow, the process. It happened to us the Shabbat after nine eleven, shabbat Nitzavim, we were all standing there that day, silent, and we all sat there when the prayers were over, and we sat there looking inward, and we sat there looking into the center of this disaster where God had exited, but we felt the presence everywhere around us, underneath us, enveloping us, waiting, waiting.
That's how we will remember, said Andy, we will be waiting, at the center, in our silence.
I am always waiting, God says.
We are waiting with you.
Jim Vogt, Administrator/Coordinator
Parenting for Peace and Justice Network (PPJN)
Families Against Violence Advocacy Network (FAVAN)
523 E. Southern Ave. Covington, KY 41015
859-291-6197; Fax: 859-291-4742
Jayna E. Powell
Director, Volunteers in Mission
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Carbob Hill, OH
NEWTON, Kan. (MC USA) At a time when many people will commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., through patriotic flag-flying, Mennonite Church USA is providing an alternative with its new peace flags.
MC USA's Peace and Justice Support Network is making available white flags with the green message, "Pray for Peace, Act for Peace." The flags introduced on the network's Web site at http://peace.mennolink.org and materials such as worship resources, a peace litany and related links can help Sept. 11 be a time of remembrance, not revenge.
With the help of these resources, congregations can show compassion to one's neighbors, provide an alternative to violence and offer solidarity to those suffering from violence around the globe, MC USA leaders said.
"We don't want to underestimate the impact that Sept. 11 had on many of our neighbors, or thumb up our noses in disregard for the insecurities it creates, or the patriotic responses it elicits," said Ervin Stutzman, moderator of MC USA.
"But as we share the pain of those losses, we also need to think through some alternatives we can offer for how our country should respond. We don't want to mindlessly support a retributive response ...but work for a way to build understanding and reconciliation."
The prayerful and peaceful ways Mennonites commemorate Sept. 11 can also provide an alternative definition for patriotism and show solidarity with those who have lost loved ones in other countries through violence, said Leo Hartshorn, minister of peace and justice for Mennonite Mission Network.
He and Susan Mark Landis, peace advocate for MC USA's Executive Board, worked with Cindy Snider, director of the Executive Board's Office of Communications, to develop the peace flag idea.
"We need to provide an alternative voice, particularly in times when the public voice is so loud in supporting war," Hartshorn said. "It's also a sign of patriotism to support democratic principles that allow alternative voices. We need to speak up publicly and show that the voice for war is not the only voice that can be heard in a free democracy. ...
"As we share our alternatives to violence, we can also convey that we in the United States are not the only people suffering from terrorism. As we grieve, we also need to connect our grief with the grief of the world, where violence is a daily reality."
Those congregations who want to use the peace flags to help establish this kind of peace witness in their communities by Sunday, Sept. 8, need to order the flags immediately, Landis said. To order, call the MC USA toll-free number at 1-866-866-2872 (1-866-TO MC USA) and ask for Roberta Harms, extension 277. The flags come in large, medium and small and can be used in the front yard, by a congregation's sign, in front of businesses, at college, as a worship area banner, at a work desk or in a school locker.
Landis created "A Litany of Many Voices," taken from the statement of faith written last September. It's also available on the Web site, along with worship resources, "To become as a watered garden," based on Jeremiah 31, for use Sept. 8. Marlene Kropf, director of the Executive Board's Office of Congregational Life, adapted these worship materials from a service she prepared with musician Ken Nafziger for the annual music and worship leaders' gathering in January.