the godless recall 9/11

Last weekend professional writing had it’s fall trip to Raquette Lake. We had a great time, as usual. We also had our regular Saturday night reading. This time, however, I recorded the reading. Here’s my performance, and I hope more will follow (assuming others will give me the OK).

The Godless Recall 9/11

2 thoughts on “the godless recall 9/11

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  1. As a practicing Catholic, I find this very offensive. I think you could have made your point without the arrogant, sanctimonious comments about a religion that allows millions of people to navigate a complex world with grace and integrity. And yes, I am educated–and a member of the academy.

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  2. I am curious that you find what I write offensive. For those who do not wish to listen to the recording, I’ll tell you what I say about Catholicism.
    I remark that when one lives in a largely Christian community, as nearly everyone in America does, there is a sense of shared belief. There is a general assumption that everyone shares the same basic values if not the specific tenets of a religion.
    When one is not part of that community of values, one is, not surprisingly, set on the outside.
    I use an example about Catholicism that is part of a larger argument I make about how beliefs work and about how terrible belief CAN be (as 9/11 and our response to it demonstrates). I certainly do not say that belief is always bad or anything like that. However, I provide a series of anecdotes regarding my children and their encounters with believers of various types.
    I give this example. My daughter, age 7, has stated she doesn’t believe in god. She went to a “Zen Camp” this summer. She has learned from various past experiences that I recount in my piece, that she’s better off not sharing these pieces of information with her friends in the community. In the past, making such comments has only made her an outsider among her peers.
    Anyway, I compare this with my daughter’s friend, who recieved her first communion this summer. This was an event of general discussion among neighbors. It was a normal thing to do.
    Now as most people know, in Catholicism, the act of communion includes the ritual of transsubstantiation, in which the wafer is transformed by miracle into the actual body of Jesus Christ. The reciever of the communion then eats the Body/wafer.
    I don’t have any problem with people believing this, nor with people being Catholic. Nor do I say anything to that effect in my piece.
    I simply say that from a removed position, in the context of our modern society, it seems odd to me that going to Zen camp and quietly meditating for a little while would be seen as weird or strange, while having faith in this ritual is accepted as normal.
    I’m not sure what’s arrogant or sanctimonious about this observation.
    I’m not interested in getting into an argument about the relative merits of Catholicism. My piece actually has very little to do with Catholicism, except that I use this example of how one set of practices can be deemed “normal” and another set of practices can be deemed “strange,” even though it’s difficult for me to see what makes one set odder than the other.
    The argument in my piece more specifically has to do with the difficulties that result for my daughter because she does not share the values of her community. Most specifically, she does not share in the values that make it natural and normal for her school to ask her to wear red, white, and blue on 9/11.
    Does that make her sanctimonious and arrogant too?
    Perhaps it does. Perhaps to the believer, the very act of non-belief is sanctimonious and arrogant. Certainly people are offended by her simple statements of her personal view. They feel compelled to condemn her (usually to hell).
    As such, I am not surprised that some might be offended by what I have said. I express a political opinion and offer up some cultural comment here. That’s true.
    As for the anonymous commenter’s being educated and an academic. Well, I don’t know what to say…Congratulations? I suppose there is some suggestion there that if I didn not know the commenter was an academic that I would consider his/her comments to be … what? Stupid? Poorly thought out?
    Fear not. I assure my audience that their level of education and/or profession will have no influence on my evaluation of the merit of their remarks.

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