September 11 : LUSENET : The Trellis : One Thread

Our responses to the September 11 tragedies, resources, writings.

-- Anonymous, September 15, 2001


Something I wrote today on one of the boards, speaking in part about last night's prayer circle in Woodstock. I'd asked the simple question, "What would Jesus do if he were president?", got a nice reply back from Sunrock. I think we should push the "what would Jesus do if he were president?" meme like crazy, I think it is something that could be very accessible for people.

Sunrock:"As a consumate, proud, and honorable critic of all things religious, but not spiritual, I consider this the best - and, arguably from so many perspectives; not the least of which is the hypocrisy which informs so much of "christian" bravado - the most profund question of this week.

If you strip away all of the self-serving piles of religious idiocy and crap of the last two millenia, that damn guy had some of the most poetic, beautiful, and elementally majestic thoughts any member of our species ever put on the table.

But, just like the mobs and bullies of today, they cut up that table and nailed the poor dude to it.

If you want to talk about sin, that was a sin. If we are to believe the various interpretations of his life, he, however, forgave them."


"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction." - Pascal


Given what a week it has been for Big Questions, I thank you for the compliment, Sun Rock.

Sin's not a word in my belief system or vocabulary, so I don't have any inclinations to talk in those terms. If I think of it,I think of it more in the Spanish sense: "sin" = "without; lacking." When there is sin, what is missing? What emptiness is there? What rushes in to fill such a void?

Last night I joined with the local progressive spiritual community for a prayer circle. There were some hundred of us there. We united in a group meditation, and then in a nod to Native American custom, passed the talking stick (in this case a turkey feather) so that each person might share what was in their hearts and minds. It was a safe space, with no brand-name religions coming up, other than the Hindu who actually talked about a Tibetan Buddhist ritual he'd just been to.

It took three full hours for the feather to go around, and that's with a number of people wandering in and out but not staying. Such an extraordinary gift of individual perspectives.

There were hopes, there were fears, some abstract, some filtered through more recent losses and horribly raw. One woman spoke of the man she married 24 years ago (I don't know if this means he was her ex-husband). She had calls from people in his office who he had rescued at the towers. He was outside, and safe. He went back in to get more people out. No-one has heard from him since.

We talked about what we thought might make people do the things that were done this week. We talked about whether the intolerance and violence we see locally is a microcosm of the greater ugliness, fear and ignorance on the rest of the world. We talked about whether we could love people or feel compassion for those who had hurt us -- some of us could do so unconditionally, others only intellectually. We spoke about being healers when there is so much ambiant pain -- what are our responsibilities, how can we stay centered ourselves in the middle of the rage and other aspects of the emotional maelstrom around us. We had more questions than answers. It was the kind of talk I haven't heard much on most of the boards I'm on on the Net, and was like cool sweet water in the midst of a desert.

I don't pin my own needs for transcendence on any particular individual, but I know that for most Americans, even those not practicing Christians, that Jesus seems to be the gold standard by which they measure behavior. I don't agree with everything he is reputed to have said, but that's okay. As the saying goes, his words and actions have got to at least be "good enough for government work."

The WWJD cultural movement was born out of Charles Sheldon's 1896 novel In His Steps whose lead character suggested that if each person asked "What Would Jesus Do?" with each decision they made, then the world would be a much better place. I see that a search for "what would Jesus do" brings up over 20,000 pages. If you add in "world trade center," nothing of much relevance comes up yet.

If there are any of you reading this who have influence in our government, maybe this might be one of the questions you should be raising in your offices, in your emails, in the gatherings with your mentors, or those you oversee. Anybody else, spread the question before we reflexively spread more pain in our spasms of grief and revenge.

It's not just a cheesy little bracelet. It's a real question to think about, in the midst of the conspicuous fanfare in cathedrals and the quiet weeping in little local churches, in this time of pain when so many more people than usual use the familiar metaphors of religion.

"What would Jesus do if he were president?"

-- Anonymous, September 15, 2001

unfortunately, what makes that question difficult to answer, is that the devil made the offer and jesus decided he didnt want to BE president. but on the other hand ,with his remarks on the tax coin, he suggests that his analysis didnt reach the point where he felt there shouldn,t be ANY president. what does snake dancer think? i,m stuck with the artifacts, where i think she has some kind of connection with the living spirit.-------r.

-- Anonymous, September 19, 2001

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