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Archive for September 11th, 2015

A Meme for 9/11

meme isenheim

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I am re-reading That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis, the third of Lewis’ space trilogy.  One of the main places in the novel is Belbury, the headquarters of the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments, or “the N.I.C.E.”.  The N.I.C.E is an institute that wants to take over England and the world and make it devoid of all ‘superstition’, especially the Christian faith.  A main character, Mark Studdock, has been selected to join the N.I.C.E.  He is an unbeliever. In this scene Mark is being programmed under the threat of violence to think “objectively,” meaning without influence of the “chemical reactions” that produce our moral (read emotive) judgments. The scientist in charge of his progress commands him to trample an almost life-size realistic crucifix. Mark hesitates… and puts his life in danger.

Mark was well aware of the rising danger. Obviously, if he disobeyed, his last chance getting out Belbury alive might be gone. The smothering sensation once again attacked him. He was himself, he felt, as helpless as the wooden Christ. As he thought this, he found himself looking at the crucifix in a new way—neither as a piece of wood nor a monument of superstition but as a bit of history. Christianity was nonsense, but one did not doubt that the man had lived and had been executed thus by the Belbury of those days. And that, as he suddenly saw, explained why this image, though not itself an image of the Straight and Normal, was yet in opposition to crooked Belbury. It was a picture of what happened when the Straight met the Crooked, a picture of what the Crooked did to the Straight—what it would do to him if he remained straight. It was, in a more emphatic sense than he had yet understood, a cross.

The Cross is the place where, “…the Straight met the Crooked” and in the midst of the ruins of World Trade Center workers found beams from the twin towers in the shape of a cross, see the header picture above of that cross.  The Straight met the Crooked and the sign of the cross shows, “…what happened when the Straight met the Crooked a picture of what the Crooked did to the Straight-and what it would do to him if he remained straight”.  It is only in the helplessness of the very Son of God is our help for those who mourn, for those who are angry, for those who make for peace, for those who protect us from evil.

President George W. Bush, at a service at the Washington National Cathedral, on September 14, 2001, observed:

Our purpose as a nation is firm. Yet our wounds as a people are recent and unhealed, and lead us to pray. In many of our prayers this week, there is a searching, and an honesty. At St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on Tuesday, a woman said, “I prayed to God to give us a sign that He is still here.” Others have prayed for the same, searching hospital to hospital, carrying pictures of those still missing.

God’s signs are not always the ones we look for.

He has given us the sign that He is still here.  Even in the midst of tyranny, He will depose the tyrant and the terrorist.  In the midst of the rubble, His sign was still there. He calls to remain Straight, love our enemies but never surrender to them.  It was not the sign we were looking for, but the one we needed. He has entered our history and will lead us home. 

Collect of the Day

Most merciful Father, with compassion You hear the cries of Your people in great distress.  Be with all who now endure affliction and calamity, bless the work of those who bring rescue and relief, and enable us to aid and comfort those who are suffering that they may find renewed hope and purpose: through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

 

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