>9/11 #9

>Maggi Dawn’s blog led me to Charles Strohmer‘s excellent piece on the contorversy surrounding this year’s 9/11 anniversary. News coverage has been centred on the threatened Qur’an burnings – which has taken over from this solemn time of remembrance.

Elsewhere, Strohmer draws attention to Greek theatre and the development of theory. he writes:

“in the theatrical culture of ancient Greece, … their words for theater and theory meant very nearly the same thing. Theatron (our theater) meant “the seeing place,” or the “place for seeing” or “viewing” the performing arts. (Similar meanings are found in the Latin and French for theater.) Theoria (our theory) meant “looking at,” “seeing,” “viewing,” which for us today has come to indicate speculation or contemplation as opposed to action.”

This is a good way to look at learning. When we see “interplay” and “interaction” we draw conclusions – or formulate theories – which then inform our responses. In the UK we have a strong tradition of “Remembrance” to remember those who have lost their lives in war. There is great theatre attached to Remembrance, with veterans parading and showing their respect, the wearing of poppies, and the re-play of wartime experiences. This helps us “to see” and “find meaning” and shapes our responses.

Imam Rauf

The media have been sucked in by Rev Terry Jones’s stunt for his planned Qur’an burning. The real action for spotlighting is the thing that Jones is complaining about. He has missed the plot – and the reality is summed up by Strohmer who describes the real purpose of the project Jones is re-acting against. That purpose seems to me to be a really faithful attempt to make sense of what is happening based on the theory that “a broad multifaith coalition can help to repair the damage that has been done to Muslim-American relations over the past fifty years.” (from What’s right with Islam by Imam Rauf)

Here’s what Strohmer says:

The Park51 project is somewhat modeled after the famous multi-use 92nd Street Y. The wide-ranging programs for their proposed community center would include recreational facilities, such as a swimming pool and gym; exhibition space; conference rooms for education and forums, such as about empowering Muslim women; space for weddings and parties; day care and a senior center; areas for interfaith activity and prayer spaces for Jews, Christians, and people of other faiths; and cultural spaces, including a 500 seat theater for the performing arts. In other words, the center will be open to everyone and anyone.

> What is Remembrance Sunday about? How has it changed over the 90 years since Armistice Day?
These were some of the questions we looked at yesterday.
Remembrance Sunday remains a day of mourning. One day that we have set aside in our year to remember the victims of war, human nature and its consequences. But our thoughts will not be the same as those celebrating the hard fought peace of 1918.

Significant changes include
• The development of international institutions like the United Nations and the EU – great political achievements representing a cooperative relationships instead of the colonialism of the past.
• War has changed and its weapons have changed. Now civilian casualties are far higher. In WW1 civilian casualties were 5% of total casualties. Now that figure is 75%.
• Communications have changed. We now live in the “global village” where “everyone is networked and nobody is in control” – which makes wars far less winnable. As a child of the 50’s I was told how lucky I was that the wolrd was at peace. Now, because of news media and globalisation, we know that there isn’t likely to have been a moment of our human history when we haven’t been fighting one another.
• We know – especially as awareness of post traumatic stress disorder has increased – that, in the words of Jose Narosky “in war there are no unwounded soldiers”.
• We know more about “child soldiers”. Children as young as 8 are involved in conflicts in at least 17 countries – acting as spies, messengers and brandishing rifles.
• We know that there are over 34 million people displaced by war.
These are some of the things that come to mind as “I remember” – the thoughts for my two minute silence. I carry on remembering the “fallen”, those killed, their loved ones, parents and communities. I remember all those who have been on the front line. I remember the civilian casualties, the child soldiers and the refugees. I remember the violence that is part of being human and I remember that we are made in God’s image – and called to pray:

God our refuge and strength,
bring near the day when wars shall cease
and poverty and pain shall end,
that earth may know the peace of heaven
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(the poppy picture was pianted by friend Pam Kelly – member of St Andrew’s Painters’ Group)