The editorial board of Gods Friends met, as planned, around
Margaret Lukenss dining room table on September 19, 2001.
In addition to the food we always share when we meet, this time
we also brought to the table our feelings of fear, anger, confusion,
and grief, and our urgent needs for solace and understanding.
Our government had already identified Osama bin Laden as the
principal suspect in the airplane attacks of September 11. Our
president said it was war. Already millions of people both inside
and outside American borders, including each of us, were being
pulled into myriad states of conflict and allegiance. Sitting
at Margarets table, we deferred our plans for an issue about
a capella congregational singing and spoke instead about ways
Gods Friends might address this new encounter with violence
Peace, compassion, love, forgivenessthese are at the heart
of our Christian practice. But so is justice. So is action. How
can we bring all these parts of our practice to bear when we engage
an enemy? Maria Schell, writing about her experience with Aikido,
has found one satisfying answer.
How are we, who are urged to pray for peace and to love the enemy
as ourselves, to bring the violent to justice? How can we go to
war while holding on to our longing for peace? Episcopal priests
Rick Fabian and Mark Spaulding offer eloquentand very differentreflections.
Where does us stop and them begin, and
what do we do about the distinction? Jacob Slichters account
of visiting a mosque in New York on September 14and what
he witnessed on his way homespeaks vividly to these dilemmas.
So do David Sangers photographs of religious leaders in
Jerusalem and so does Bishop Bill Swings commentary that
accompanies these images.
Whenever and however members and friends of the St. Gregorys
community came together in the days and weeks following the attacks,
we sought understanding and comfort. But more than once, our conversations
made us uncomfortable, exposing adversarial positions among friends.
And often we had to admit that we did not understand quite a few
things, and maybe never would. Afraid, combative, stricken, resolute,
graciouswe were just like people everywhere, which may have
been all we needed to know for sure.