As a member of a 9/11 family (the son of one of my sisters was a passenger on American flight 11, the first plane to smash into the World Trade Center), I'm on some e-mail lists related to such families.
One of those lists keeps me up to date on the military tribunal proceedings at the prison at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp (Gitmo) in Cuba, where the U.S. government has incarcerated various people, including the alleged mastermind of 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammad (pictured here).
The other day I received an e-mail update about all of this along with several attachments containing such things as a statement by the chief prosecutor and copies of various motions that have been made by both sides in the cases.
As I read through the prosecutor's statement to the press, I was overwhelmed again by the ripple effects of violence that grows out of toxic and misguided religion. (To read that statement, click on this link to a pdf file: Download 27 Jan 2013 Statement of the Chief Prosecutor.)
Here we are more than 11 years after the event and countless people still are tied up dealing with the aftermath of it. Yes, think of the Navy Seals who trained and trained and finally killed Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaida. And think of all the security changes Americans have made in air travel and other aspects of our lives. Think of the fact that we have a whole new Department of Homeland Security in our federal government.
But remember, too, all of the lawyers and others who have been spending year after year prosecuting or defending various people charged with terrorism.
So not only did the terrorists murder nearly 3,000 people on 9/11, they also transformed the lives of many people who have spent the last 11-plus years wrestling with our response to the attacks.
If you take time to read through the prosecutor's statement, I think you'll have a better sense of what I mean. And it may raise for you the question it raises for me: Given all the resources the U.S. has devoted to responding to 9/11, wasn't that event in some sense at least a partial victory for the terrorists and the religious thugs who motivated them?
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SPENDING ON THE WRONG ISSUE
A group working against same-sex marriage is having trouble raising money needed to fight that battle in the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case. In the long run, it will be wasted money. This legal tide has turned and the ship sailed. Why not spend the money trying to reduce the ridiculously high divorce rate among us heterosexuals?
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THE BOOK CORNER
The Living and True God: The Mystery of the Trinity, by Luis F. Ladaria. This is a new translation from the Spanish by a Catholic priest who holds one of the most important positions at the Vatican, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is not for beginners but is, rather, a scholarly attempt to describe the Trinity by someone who is well within what Vatican observer John L. Allen Jr. calls "affirmative orthodoxy." It is difficult to think of a more misunderstood and confusing Christian doctrine than the Holy Trinity. Ladaria pays homage to that reality even in the book's subtitle, acknowledging it as a "mystery." His contention is that it's the key to the rest of Christian theology. Indeed, if Christians hope to talk coherently about their faith, they must have some way to speak of the one God in three persons without degenerating into polytheism or theological silliness. For Catholics holding to affirmative orthodoxy, this book will give them such tools. For serious and well-educated Protestants, I might point them, instead, to Systematic Theology: The Triune God, by the Lutheran scholar Robert W. Jenson (also not for beginners). And for all readers interested in grasping the nature of the Trinity, I suggest sections of Miroslav Volf's great book, Allah: A Christian Response. His writing about the Trinity is lucid and almost without equal.