Thursday, September 11, 2003

I haven't really tried to write anything about the anniversary, mostly because I figured I would be inadequate. However, I am going to post on the memorial service I went to today. It opened with a Catholic prayer. He had some standard, "Give us strength and comfort and whatnot," but I think I remember him also counseling against "vengeance." Then a Rabbi read a liturgy. It was about a promise from god that his people would live in peace, without war.

The rest was a little stranger. An Imam read from the Al-Hujraat from the Koran. He read verse 10, "The Believers are but a single Brotherhood." I'm not sure if I should read this as inclusive or exclusive. It could be either one. He also read verse 13, which is unambiguously inclusive, "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other not that ye may despise (each other)." Most interestingly, he read verse 9: "If two parties among the Believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah."

I read this as "Be at peace, but if there is a disagreement, be at war, until there is peace." My first reaction is that these verses are kind of rambling. My second thought is that this is a strange choice for a memorial service. Aren't we here to remember the dead? Finally, it is clear that the Imam did not get the same "peace at all cost" memo as the next two speakers.

The Protestant Chaplain (their description) read from Luke the bit about turn the other cheek: "Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either." (I think she had the New American Standard Bible.) Finally someone from the Center for Social Justice spoke. It was about how we need peace and understanding and we should work together and volunteer to help the poor and support "justice."

It felt like I was getting a lecture. Really, it wasn't much of a memorial service. Obviously, one could argue we should be forward looking and trying to heal, blah, blah, blah, but really we can set a side one day to remember the people who died. Overall, it was not horrible and I don't regret going, but it wasn't very good either.

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