My 9/11 Mount Olive Messenger Articles

To anyone interested, here are two of my Mount Olive Messenger Newspaper Articles where I comment on the effects of the events on September 11, 2001 on my generation. Lucky for you, the latter part of this article has not been release yet. So you get to see it before it hits the stands! Enjoy.

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Post 9/11: My Generation Part I

In the wake of the ten-year anniversary of September 11, 2001, I have been considering what it truly meant for two of the most important buildings in our country to be utterly destroyed. Every American is undoubtedly aware of the emotional turmoil that 9/11 brought upon our country, but do we really consider the rippling effect it had on almost every aspect of our social lives?

Last week on September 11, 2011, The History Channel showcased a documentary which compiled eye-witness accounts of the attacks of 9/11. As I sat watching the emotional personal footage shot from terrified citizens and reporters, I could not help but think about the startling impact it had on America. Even though American morale and patriotism skyrocketed post-9/11, our economy, as the documentary stated, has continued to fall at an alarming rate.

I remember sitting in my 6th grade history class when our teacher gave the news that terrorists had flown two planes into the buildings in New York. I am positive you also remember where you were, but the question I want to pose is where we are now? Within this week and next week’s article, I want to explore how my generation has been specifically effected by the collapse of the Twin Towers.

I was eleven years old when the Twin Towers fell, and honestly, I am not sure there is a more emotional age. My age group, I believe, was affected as much, if not more than any other generation in America. One thing you have to consider is that ages 10-25 are not only highly emotional, but are the most impressionable ages as well. So the events of 9/11 not only struck us mentally, but the recoil and response of America involved and changed us to an extreme extent.

An example of this is the fact that America, at least in the last twenty years, has become a highly multi-cultural area with different religions and ethnicities interacting with one another across all spectrums of life. With these interactions come influences of other religions, languages, and customs that make America the melting pot that it is. I am convinced though, that since 9/11, America had been set back in its multicultural relations by at least 10 years. For the longest time after 9/11, hate towards other cultures and religions elevated to the point that patriotism basically meant “God Bless America, and no one else.”

Amidst this war between cultures in America, my generation stood as teenagers witnessing the hatred and sadness of a nation who had no idea how to handle such a tragic event. I remember taking a trip to Washington DC when I was 16, where I witnessed an innocent Muslim man and his family getting into a taxi, while an American man screamed racial slurs at him. This is an event I will never forget, and one which I am still recovering from.

But there was, and is, hope that comes with this type of tragedy. I hope you will read my column next week to get the second part of this look into the life of my generation post-9/11 where we will examine the hopeful response of young Americans to these events.

Post 9/11: My Generation Part II

In last week’s article I proclaimed how the events of September 11th, 2001 had a deep impact on the multi-cultural relations within the United States. I upheld the children and teenagers of my generation during the early 2000’s witnessed a negative response to this tragic event in America. Unfortunately, this response was one which involved racism, bigoted nationalism, and, ultimately, the fall of our economy. My generation witnessed war and violence on the news, while also being relied upon to join the war effort after we graduated from high school. No matter what each of us chose during this time of great influence, the members of my young generation all responded in some prolific way, many of which have spurred a revolution of thought and culture over the last five years.

As we witnessed the hate and degradation of everything non-American, it is only the right response to question the ideologies around us. In questioning these beliefs that we were expected to have instilled within our hearts, many of my age became angry and rebelled against what they so intimately witnessed.

The first response among my generation was to join the war effort and live in the pride of America. Although this was debatably a noble cause at the time, many of my peers look back upon their decision to take up arms and have sundry regrets. I will not go into my pacifist beliefs, but war – whether you are for it or against it – takes its toll on everyone involved. The second and more common response was indifference. Many people young people simply sat on their couch and watched America unfold before their eyes. They were neither apart of its demise, nor did they ultimately care as long as the outcome set life back to normal. Their involvement was voting for the donkey or the elephant, but they honestly had no idea what to do or how to respond. This may be the less responsible response, but it is no-doubt the safest, and one with I have much empathy for.

But it is the last response which has had the greatest impact upon our culture. Among the soldiers and the indifferent emerged a group from my generation whose response to America’s multi-cultural lapse was nothing less than riveting. While many people downed other religions and ethnicities in the name of nationalism, my generation explored these other religions and took hold to the values of other cultures. Whether this due was a rebellious response or genuine curiosity, these young people are committed to changing the hatred and violence they have witnessed since 9/11.

I often hear many people comment on the looseness of morals and the immanent diversity within my generation, in which my response is that this is the direct reaction to the events of 9/11. Our loose morals come from a generation still searching for something to believe in, something better than what we witnessed after the towers fell. Our diversity and our weird hairdos are our response to individualism. We are diverse not to expose others, but to welcome all of the ones who feel like outsiders and who feel like acceptance is out of reach. We explore because we believe there is something better than what we have been offered, and our hope is not only that we will find what we are looking for, but that we will inspire others to join in on our search as well.

This week, consider what effect 9/11 has had on your generation, and I hope through what you have read, you get a glimpse at the necessity of my generation’s response as well.

Collision: How can I live here. . .and there?

Collision. What a violent word. Right?

If you are a church goer who attends regularly in whatever discipline you have chosen, you have (hopefully) noticed that there is an evident collision between our world and theirs; ‘our world’ being the church, and ‘their world’ being, well, the world. You may say that you see no difference between the ways of the church, and the practices of the world. If so, you have probably been reading quite a bit of Yoder and Hauerwas, or, better yet, you have been paying attention to what the pastor says on Sunday (whether he or she expels this collision or embodies it).

I have noticed this collision especially in my time as youth pastor as I have served a group of young people who are being brought up in the Kingdom of America, while attempting to come to church and figure out what this alternative kingdom of God is all about. Among these young people, it seems there is always a struggle with what they see in the world and what we uncover in the words of Jesus. How does a child read, “Love your enemies” at church, and then go home to a family who condones the death penalty? How does a young student of the faith hear the message of the prince of peace at worship service, and the next day they open their history books to Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings which is deemed “necessary” by the writers within?

Putting it simply, our heart’s dedication to the church and what it stands for is at war with what we have been taught to be true and effective in the society we live in. Prosperity does not come from generosity in America; it comes from gaining an advantage over the next person in line. It comes from gaining the advantage over another, who, if we win, are consider weak because of our necessity to be strong. Their misery is simply an effect of the system with which we all live and we cannot escape. The simple requires survival of the fittest, and in turn, that survival requires us to be indifferent to whom we trample upon on our way to the top.

By listening and observing my students, I have come to question if Paul was mistaken when he said, “the law is written on our hearts” in Romans. From what I have seen, what is in their hearts are American values which have to reconcile the legitimacy of the Christian virtues before they will buy they inherent value and truth. Should it not be the complete opposite? Should we not judge America through the eyes of the bible, rather than judging the bible through the eyes of America?

I believe that we have come to believe that our convictions to the state are more immanent to our present situation than the suggestions of the church. I am convinced this is so because our reality is shaped by what we experience outside the church, rather than what convicts us within the confines of our faith. Thus, it becomes much harder to live as a Christian in America, that it is to live as an American is Christendom.

As I continue to babble and sort through my thoughts, John Howard Yoder speaks of how Christians attempt to live in America while also holding true to Christian values. Let me know what you think about his thoughts?

There is the patience of the “subject,” which the New Testament calls “subordination,” as it applies to the state or to any other super-ordinate power. We accept it as a fact, without accepting it as the best, that we live in a society ruled by the sword, in which, as long as the fallen state of things persists, the only alternative to being ruled by the sword of one violent party is to be ruled by the sword of another party whose power is greater and whose injustice may at best (we hope) be (at least marginally) less. We thus accept it, let it be, subordinate ourselves to the fact of the sword, without its being morally normative for ourselves, either in the sense of divine institution or in that of call to us to guide our discipleship. In this broad acceptance of what is in principle unacceptable, there is no formal or fundamental difference between the pacifist and the non-pacifist; it is only that the pacifist has had more occasion to think about it.(10) Neither the protestant “Radical Right” nor the “politically correct” postmodern left has wholeheartedly accepted this component of modern civility.

–From John Howard Yoder’s posthumous and unpublished writings. http://theology.nd.edu/people/research/yoder-john/documents/PATIENCE.pdf