9/11 and all that Tom Smith

[This might qualify as a family life update. Thus you might prefer to not read it.] Notwithstanding the Laws of the Church, we do not make it to Mass every Sunday. But this Sunday LWJ decreed and I agreed that we should definitely go. I wonder if the Sunday closest to 9/11 will emerge as a kind of de facto holy day of obligation, especially in those Irish parts of Queens that lost awful numbers of firemen, traders and policemen ten years ago today. The priest celebrating mass today was visiting from Connecticut and had served as a chaplin in the morgue set up for WTC victims. Of course, very little of any of them was recovered, but Father — I forget his Irish last name — showed us that he had kept in his wallet pictures of two firemen, one a probie who had been on the job just a few months, who were killed in the attack. The helmet of one and the breathing gear of the other was recovered while the priest was on duty. The gospel today was all about forgiveness with the parable about the servant who begged his master to give him a chance to repay a debt but then would not forgive a debt owed to him. The master ended up handing the hypocritical servant "over to the torturers". The message of the homily was that being a Christian was about forgiving, I believe, the implication being that we had to forgive those who had attacked us on 9/11, or at least I inferred as much. My 15 year old was offended by the message. "I don't think we should have to forgive them until they stop trying to kill us," he said. He has a point. In the parable the master forgave his servant, but only after the servant asked to be forgiven. The visiting pastor joked about Irish Alzheimer's Disease, which is forgetting everything except your grudges. Boy did that ring true. At least I come by this character flaw honestly via my Irish Catholic mother. I think I can honestly say I have forgiven everyone or nearly everyone who wronged me before 1975, but after that, well, it would be dangerous for me spiritually and them physically for us to find ourselves out in the state of nature somewhere. As for villains of 9/11, I don't hate them exactly; I just want them all dead. I'm not under any illusions that my feelings about that event are particularly important. It just seems like a time to reflect, and that's one of my reflections. If they somehow turn themselves around and ask for forgiveness, well, we can cross that bridge when we come to it. In the meantime, fly away little Predator drones, fly away. There does seem to be something of a meme in the MSM to the effect that 9/11/11 is a time for self-doubt and self-loathing, a time to reflect on Bush's mistaken war in Iraq, a time to wring our hands about declining American power and so on and so forth. I'm not really feeling it though. Maybe I am too optimistic, but my sense is that Americans have had about enough of all that. I don't think the ascendancy of the cultural left has worn very well with the mass of Americans and I see the current widespread impatience with our young president as part of that. We'll see. I bought a copy of the New York Times today but couldn't bring myself to read much of it. It looked like more ambiguous legacy bullshit. Nothing the Times loves more than ambiguity. But for most Americans, I don't think the legacy of 9/11 is all that ambiguous. We saw the horrible face of evil and suffered bitter loss. But we know a grim determination to destroy our enemies and rebuild is the only possible response worthy of who we are. The Freedom Tower will be exactly 1776 feet high, which is perfect. When it's finished, my family and I will make a trip to NYC to see it. At the end of Mass today, the closing hymn was America the Beautiful. It is, and I never knew it more than ten years ago today. I think a lot us feel the same way.

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