9/11, Ten Years Later

Event Date: 
Thursday, September 1, 2011 - 10:15am - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - 3:00pm


The following is part of an article by Cathleen Falsani, the religion reporter for the Chicago Sun Times 10 years ago, when the airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.


As the paper’s religion reporter, editors asked me to write something that would address the spiritual implications of the unthinkable disaster that was unfolding. The only thing I could think to do was to phone a number of religious leaders and ask them the question so many people were asking that Tuesday morning: Why would God allow this to happen? My favorite answer came from William Persell, the Episcopal bishop of Chicago. “I see God operating through all the courage, the love, and the support people are giving each other as they drag bodies from buildings and as they minister to the wounded and the bereaved across the nation. I ultimately believe that love is more powerful than the evil we have experienced, and it will prevail.” In the end, yes, love wins. That is true.

But the truest answer I received came from the venerable scholar of American religion, Martin Marty, who told me, matter-of-factly, “I don’t know, and nobody does.” 10 years later, Marty’s answer remains the best.

None of (the historical-political answers people give) truly get at the heart of the matter. None of them explain on a soul level why bad things happen to good people, why the innocent suffer, why there is hatred in a world that I believe was created and ordered by a loving God, a God who promises to be powerfully present in our suffering.

None of those responses satisfactorily answer the why….

If I have learned anything in the decade that has passed since terror became a visceral part of our daily reality, it is to be comfortable with not knowing. There are some things in this life that we never will understand.  “I don’t know,” is sometimes the only true response. That uncertainty is not only okay, it’s sacred.


In an effort to further our understanding of Islam and Muslims and the far-reaching effects of those events 10 years ago, we have invited Rohany Nayan, a Muslim graduate student at the University and the Coordinator of Interfaith Dialogue at the Lubar Institute for the Study of Abrahamic Religions, to speak in our worship on September 11, the 10thanniversary of those events on the East Coast.


Posted on September 1, 2011 at 12:13 pm in Featured Content.

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