911 Fourteen Years Later #NeverForget

Faculty, Staff, and Trustees share their thoughts on the anniversary of 9/11.

On July 18th I travelled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to attend the annual International Society of Biblical Literature Meetings. While at the meetings I attended a session on Bible and Qur’an at which Dr. John Kaltner, Virginia Ballou McGehee Professor of Muslim-Christian Relations at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN walked us through a comparison of the Golden Calf Story (Exodus 32/Qur’an 7:148-154). If you remember, the Golden Calf story in the biblical text ends with the people being punished by God for having made the calf. In contrast, the text in the Qur’an ends with the people repenting , God’s mercy flowing and all relationships repaired. At the close of his presentation, Dr. Kaltner emphasized the tendency in the Qur’an toward stories about reconciliation.

On this day of remembering the atrocity of 911 may we keep in mind that the majority of our world (people of all walks of life and faiths) hopes and strives for peace and reconciliation. As we remember the pain of September 11, 2001, may we look forward to a new day in which peoples of different cultures and faiths can find common ground on which to build reconciling and peace filled communities.

– LeAnn Snow Flesher, PhD
Academic Dean and Professor of Old Testament
American Baptist Seminary of the West at
The Graduate Theological Union
Berkeley, CA

I was about to begin my seminary coursework. I was living in Chicago at the time. Dumbfounded, I watched the morning news as the Twin Towers fell. Men and women and children died. It was a terrible morning.

A few things came to mind to me while I watched. First, America is not immune to the violence that so many others experience every day. Second, this event will test our national mettle. As nations rushed to help us, mourn for us, I was heartbroken again when American leadership responded with an opportunistic declaration of war. Thousands upon thousands more died.

As I am doing right now, we still treat this tragic event as an opportunity to lash out at others, to flex our military muscle. And like so much other violent history in this country, this event will also fade into memory. It will become something that my son reads about. Gettysburg, Fort Sumter, Pearl Harbor, the battle of Midway, Anzio…Who is still traumatized by these things? Who remembers the scars left on American communities during the 18th century? The 19th? Atlanta has recovered from Sheridan’s burning.

Or has it? Perhaps not.

America is not the global victim. Nor was September 11, 2001 the worst days humanity has ever experienced. Far from it. Like with every such violent act, we have an opportunity to show something better, to respond with grace and dignity, to uphold kindness and mercy. By being kind we will heap coals on their heads of those who hate us. More so, we will discover in the end, I believe, that there is no us or them. “They” are a myth we have fashioned to give credence to our nightmares.

I want to wake up.

Every year I think back to that morning and remember that following the event I went to seminary. I bathed myself in prayer and sacrament and study for three years. Certainly, it was a luxury. But it also showed me what is possible for us, what we can choose to do in response to heinous violence.

We have been shown once again that the world is wide open. National boundaries have a little meeting. I have partners in Grace across the globe. Friends and colleagues. Today, I choose to remember those friendships and those connections and the great joy that comes with them.

– Rev. Tripp Hudgins
Director of Admissions
American Baptist Seminary of the West

We awaken today, like all days, not truly knowing what lies ahead.

We live today, like all days, surrounded by those who know, and have known, suffering, pain and loss.

We live today, like all days, trusting that if crisis comes we will be calm and courageous.

We live today, like all days, hoping that if tragedy befalls us, someone will care.

We live today, like all days, wanting the promise of Scripture to include us, “Whether we live, or whether were die, we are the Lord’s.”

– Rev. Dr. Jim Hopkins,
Pastor of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church
ABSW Board Chair

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