Showing posts from 2016

Trump's election

Of course the sun will come up tomorrow. America is not that much different today than yesterday. Donald Trump was elected by the lawful vote of the American people. But it would be a mistake to normalize this break with our democratic tradition or gloss over the demonic, divisive, and destructive forces evoked and encouraged by Trump. I hope he and we turn out better than I fear. Yet we should not optimistically misunderstand his attempts to legitimize himself when they are rooted in the same swamp of disrespect which he used to channel people's fears into political power. The newly elected "Presidential" Trump says "Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division..." But Donald Trump deepened, inflamed, and poured infectious invective into America's divisions. His call now for healing is the voice of an abuser, offering a band-aid for the wounds he inflicted. America must not be seduced by a few soothing words into returning for more ab

15 year remembrance - Tuesday 9/25/01

This is the last of my September 2001 postings. From: Date: Thu Sep 27, 2001 12:57 am Reply To: Subject: Catching up - Tuesday 9/25 It seems like a long time since my last note - but only six days. Last Wednesday I applied, was screened, and trained by the American Red Cross to do emergency bereavement counseling. Since then I have worked four shifts at the Pier 94 Family Assistance Center, and that has helped keep me busy. It has been an awesome and wonderful experience. All the more so because I know with certainty that God called me to it and has been upholding me and confirming me in it. It is a rare and holy privilege to share peoples' lives at this time. I cannot say much more, except that it is tiring and energizing and heartbreaking and filled with joy. "What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a

15 year remembrance - 9/19/01 Holy Wednesday

There is only one more posting from 15 years ago. After I began serving as a chaplain, I was too busy, didn't have the energy for the writing, and much of what occurred could not easily be shared for privacy reasons. "Holy Wednesday" refers to the day of my first shift with the Red Cross, and finally being able to get to that work to which I was called. From: Date: Thu Sep 20, 2001 3:51 am Reply To: Subject: Holy Wednesday It is amazing how people have turned up from all over to help. "I heard a voice saying 'go to NY'..." "I asked God for a sign. And then my daughter said, 'Mom, you're going to NY, aren't you?'" And they came. In some cases obstacles magically fell away. In others, it took good hard work and unaccountable luck. But over and over again people have found themselves in the place God would have them be. You m

15 year remembrance - 9/18/01

Image From: Date: Wed Sep 19, 2001 1:06 am Reply To: Subject: One week after Tuesday 9/18 There isn't much to say today. The grief work begins in full swing. The Red Cross is running training for bereavement counselors 12 hours a day. God's peace be with you. ---------------------------------------- Fleshing this out September, 2016... On Tuesday 9/18 I was screened and trained to be a disaster chaplain. The "screening" and the training happened together and took not more than an hour in a group of 15 or so. I suppose you could have been screened out by answering a question dramatically wrongly, or seeming to be way out of kilter, but I don't think many got bounced at this stage. There were a few things which stood out. I remember feeling pretty good that I was not unprepared for this. We got asked about some of the things that we expected would be part o

15 year remembrance - 9/17/01

The pictures are not original to the email. From: Date: Tue Sep 18, 2001 1:53 am Reply To: Subject: Putting things back together Yesterday and today the fatigue has begun to hit. Class, Bible study, and bereavement counseling tomorrow (Tues). As you undoubtedly heard, the stock market opened today, and went down. Seems like we truly are getting back to "normal." This evening commercial airliners have been flying overhead on their approach to LaGuardia. I know this is as expected, and a week ago it was no big deal. I know they're flying to LaGuardia. But the noise often impinges suddenly, and I start.* If you've subscribed to the WTC-Prayer list, you will have seen this news, but I was glad to reach a friend last night. Rev. Win Peacock is the Director of the John Heuss House, a homeless drop-in shelter in the Financial District. Their phones have been out,

15 year remembrance - 9/15/01 Part 3

Image From: Date: Sat Sep 15, 2001 10:24 pm Subject: WTC-related prayer requests Reply To: I'm sorry if this is a duplicate or annoying note for you. But the response in just a short time tells me this is needed and I had better set it up right. I am a student at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and work in campus ministry at New York University. Even though many people have been working and struggling so hard to respond to the human tragedies of the September 11th attacks, it is so frustrating not to be able to do more. There is a great ache to do SOMETHING! I have heard this again and again. People ask "What can we send ? What can we DO?" You probably know many of the material needs. I have been in contact with several groups of people in and outside of NYC who are unable to travel to the relief sites, and so are engaged in prayer. In addition to all the

15 year remembrance - 9/15/01 Part 2

Picture of a wedding from . From: Date: Sat Sep 15, 2001 8:58 pm Reply To: Subject: Saturday in New York I've just sent out the daily notice to the school about where and how help is needed. In the quad outside my window, there are chairs and tables and a canopy for a Jewish wedding which will take place at sundown. The guests have gathered, and the band is playing Amazing Grace. God bless New York. It has been a beautiful day, the sun bright and warm, the air crisp. A group of students just left to go downtown. There are reports that air quality there is not very good and that asbestos is a potential problem. But people are still working in the wreckage, still searching for loved ones, still homeless. We have a sense that ministry is a dangerous business. Quite a bureaucracy has grown up trying to organize help effectively. Many are complaining at

15 year remembrance - 9/15/01 Part 1

Image From: Date: Sat Sep 15, 2001 8:04 pm Reply To: Subject: Friday in New York Apologies, I know this is not directly on topic for the list. There's been talk of the city "returning to normal." I'm not sure I know quite what "normal" is for New York. But we are definitely not returning to normal. Too much has gone down, literally and figuratively. But there is a definite sense of people seeking more and more to return to the usual, the ordinary. This is a partly a response to the terrorism. Partly a need for the comfort of the familiar, which we can cling to in the face of tremendous upset. And partly the simple need to get on with life. We still need to walk the dog and get groceries and do the laundry. One fellow student told how she was on the subway, and for the first time since Tuesday, it was crowded, and there was a little jostling and attitude.

15 year remembrance - 9/13/01

The pictures are not of course, original to the email. From: Date: Fri Sep 14, 2001 2:51 am Reply To: Subject: Looking for power Thanks to all of you who have been in touch over the past few days. It is a blessing and a comfort to know we are not alone. I hope all of you have been able to contact family and other loved ones. "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Not the way we're normally inclined to think. Power is something we love to have. We want power -- sometimes power over another. But we also need the power that gets things done, the power we need to survive in the world. We want to be strong. In our hearts, we'd like to be invulnerable. But we're not. Dear God, we're not. "Power is made perfect in weakness." This is a hard one to understand. But when I look around this ci

15 year remembrance - 9/12/01

I returned home later Tuesday night, 10? 11pm? I don't remember what the rest of the night was like, I'm sure I was up late, and sometime before I got out the next morning, I read an email from a pastor I did not know condemning Islam. (The pictures are not of course, original to the email.) Survivors walking up Broadway outside St. Paul's Chapel following WTC collapse. Attribution unknown. From: Date: Wed Sep 12, 2001 10:03 am Reply To: Subject: Re: [ELCA-L] Terrorism Dear brothers and sisters, > Make no mistake about it, > Islam is a religion of hatred > and violence. Islam is the > enemy. Terror seemingly knows no bounds. Thoughts like this give me terror, and cause me to fear for our nation's soul. It seems all too much like the thinking that led to yesterday's brutality. We do not ourselves have innocent hands, for we too easily hate. A

15 year remembrance - 9/11/01

Over the next few days I will be posting some of my writings immediately following 9/11/01, posted to a Lutheran discussion group. They are corrected for spelling and with a few other indicated edits. The originals are still online at the referenced links. ELCA-L/message/8634 From: Date: Tue Sep 11, 2001 1:56 pm Reply To: Subject: A word from NYC To those on the list who know us and may be wondering, both Lisa and I are safe and OK. But many of my former colleagues, friends, and acquaintances who work and live in the WTC area have undoubtedly been affected. Please pray for those at risk, and for the courage and strength of those who labor to help. "We walk by faith and not by sight," for the sights today are horrific. In the days to come, as we trace the chains of cruelty and indifference which led to this horror, let us also be attentive to the evidence of love. Those who have put thems

9/11 Remembering the people

For me the anniversary day is a good time to hallow the memory of those who perished that day, and to remember those many ripples which spread from the attack: those injured, the families and communities of victims, the many thousands of responders. One of the things that came through the most in my experience, was the ordinary goodness of most of the people caught up in this disaster. There are so many... This picture is of a display at the Tribute Center, run by the September 11th Families Association, the principal interpretive center prior to the opening of the National 911 Memorial and Museum. Far too many. I find it helpful to focus. Today, I remember... Abdu Malahi , 37, New York, NY FORMALITY WITH WARMTH Growing up, Abdu A. Malahi struggled to combine the traditions and culture of his native Yemen with the swagger of a kid raised in Brooklyn, one who loved Prince and played the keyboard in a makeshift band. He dreamed of becoming a recording engineer, said his child

We walk by faith

It was almost exactly 15 years ago that a particular line of scripture came to my attention. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.... For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden... So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight . 2 Corinthians 5:1-7 (abridged) The morning began with an unusual noise of a low-flying jet overhead, as I tried for a little more sleep before getting out of bed. A short while later, a fellow student told me about a plane crash. I sat uncomfortably with others for 10 or 15 minutes until our 10:00 class on "Aggression" was canceled and it was announced that we would gather at noon chapel. Two things stand out at that service. John McGuckin standing to the side, in black cassock, with his prayerbook and rosary, softly and si

The heavens are telling the glory of God

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims God's handiwork.&nbsp Psalm 19:1 Despite our desires to reach to the heavens, most of the time we completely fail to notice the awesome handiwork of creation. Even when our towers are falling, the heavens still proclaim the glory of God. Glory surrounds us, glory supports us, and glory calls us. We do not need the devastation of violence. But some of our constructions deserve to fall. Towers built by exploitation, by casual acceptance of injustice, by our willing ignorance of others in need... the sooner they come down, the sooner we can begin building the kind of life and the kind of world that is truly glorious.