Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11 and "Psychological Comfort"

Today is the day we all remember (I hope) the Islamofascist terrorist attacks on the United States of America on 9/11/01. I will never willingly forget, although remembering is very unpleasant.

I remember what I was doing that morning when I found out, and all the rest of the day to boot. I remember what I did the night before: I went to my first RCIA meeting; when we walked into the next Monday's meeting, it felt as if the whole world had changed.

This year I once again prayed for the souls of the victims of those murderous attacks. I do not recall if I ever prayed for the souls of their murderers--I guess I figured they chose hell when they deliberately targeted innocent civilians for murder and were willing to die with that sin on their heads--but I did and have prayed for the souls of living terrorists and would-be terrorists. I do this because the religion I was moving toward at the time of the 9/11 attacks and am now part of requires it.
Today John C. Wright (whose blog I peek at occasionally, after having found it a few months ago), commenting on someone who sneeringly dismissed Christian faith as "psychologically comforting", says that
"...I would hesitate to call the conversion experience psychologically
comforting. Indeed, very much the opposite is the case: unlike my atheist self
of yore, I am now beholden to a higher authority, who pins me to a standard of
thought and deed very much against my nature and inclination."

Just so. I find nothing comforting or comfortable about praying for my enemies--whether terrorists who murder my countrymen or an arrogant coworker or someone who's threatened my family. I find nothing comfortable in reading a newspaper article about some disgusting child molester and being forced to consider that that person (someone even the very murders, thieves, and rapists in prison revile!) is a fellow child of God, whom Jesus died to save no less than he died to save me, and that I should pray for the person's repentance and reform. It is against my nature and my inclination. I don't like it and I don't want to do it.

Mr. Wright talks about trying to "obey the call to be charitable, loving, longsuffering, meek". I don't want to do any of that, except to be loving to my husband, and I probably fail at that as much as I do all the other stuff that I don't even want to try in the first place. But it's required, so I make my sporadic, grudging attempts at Christian virtue. And I don't find it comfortable to have to go into a confessional and name my failures aloud to another human being (much easier somehow to say in the privacy of my mind "God, I'm sorry I messed up" and leave it at that!), but it's required of me, so I do it, albeit less frequently than I should.

And I don't do these things just because I voluntarily joined this religion and my personal integrity demands that I follow its rules. I do it because I will have to answer to a higher authority than myself.

The part of the Narnia books that I keep coming back to is one that I think the books themselves repeated: Aslan is not a tame lion. I think that the real One whom Aslan is a fictionalized version of is also not a tame One. I think that He is not only "gentle Jesus, meek and mild", but the One who chased the moneylenders out of the temple with a whip, who came to bring not peace but a sword, who came to set a son against his father and a daughter against her mother. Demons feared him, and He defeated Satan with the shedding of his holy blood. One day I will have to stand before him. If you have less cause to tremble in that circumstance, then I am glad for you now, but I doubt I'll have room to give it a thought then. I have reason to tremble. Even leaving aside the thought of His fearsome justice, I don't know how I could ever raise my eyes to the presence of so much goodness.

Fortunately, my religion also teaches that He is merciful to those who seek his mercy. I hope that my nation turns from immorality and seeks his mercy. I hope that all of the victims of terrorist attacks around the world have found his mercy. I also hope--though it comes far less naturally for me--that would-be terrorists will seek his mercy before they die, expecting a reward for their murders. There is a prayer for enemies in a little Catholic prayerbook I have that desires of God that we may be saved souls together in heaven with our enemies; considering some of the jerks I've known in my own unadventurous life, let alone terrorists, that is a line hard not to choke over, but such is my faith.

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