Exhausted with trying to make reason of such malicious behavior, many Americans have found answers and solace within the walls of churches, synagogues and mosques throughout the country.
In Steamboat Springs, attitudes have been no different.
“What we have seen in the midst of this tragedy is the spontaneous acknowledgement of God at a time when people might be questioning ‘Where is God’ and ‘Does God exist?” Rev. Warren Geldmeier of Steamboat Springs Evangelical Free Church said.
People are finding that recent traumatic events are better understood when viewed from the perspective that a sovereign God does exist, he said.
A nation reeling from the aftermath of blows to its security and peaceful way of life may find it easier to put aside its usual appetite for material comforts in search of what is more spiritual, Geldmeier said.
“There has been a shift in priorities,” he said. “People are reaching for God in a way they never have before.”
Yet people of all faiths are struggling with the way to best impart justice in the face of so much evil.
Geldmeier said he believes people are ingrained with a sense of right and wrong, and for a nation to be passive in the face of evil is wrong.
“Those who would be marching for peace don’t understand that peace depends on two sides,” he said. “Both of them have to want it. We can want it, but if they continue their aggressive war on America, we’re either passively allowing evil to be done or we actively try to prevent it.”
War is what happens because evil is in the world and people are determined to do evil, Rev. Ronald Schnackenberg of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints said.
But in the midst of war and aggression, hope still remains, he said.
Schnackenberg said he wants people who are still shaken by the attacks to know that peace can be found in chaos.
“We must realize that bad things happened to good people on that day,” he said. “It’s nobody’s fault. That’s the message of life and we beat ourselves up trying to explain every bad thing that happened that day.”
Schnackenberg said he saw an opportunity to encourage his congregation soon after the attacks by sending out letters that reminded people to reflect on what really matters in life.
“Those people were calling home,” he said. “They called their family. They didn’t call the stock market. They didn’t check on their bank reserves. In times like these, people’s thoughts turn to things that are most important.”
Rev. David Henderson of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, like many clergy, has addressed the use of military force from the pulpit.
History demonstrates Christianity’s struggle between pacifism and aggression, he said.
“It’s a tendency in Christian tradition to march off on a crusade without a humble self-examination of our own failures,” Henderson said. “The other is a sort of compassion and forgiveness that says we shouldn’t do anything.”
The United State’s reaction to the unjust blow it has been dealt must be viewed as a choice between the lesser of two evils, Henderson said.
As the nation confronts evil, it must do so with great humility, realizing its own imperfections, he added.
“There are cases where we need to take action, even if it means using force,” Henderson said. “But any military action needs to be done with the greatest care.”
Henderson said he has told his congregation that justice implies more than just getting the bad guys. Justice implies that the U.S. military do everything in its power to protect the innocent and civilian population, he said.
“It’s a question of how we reconcile love and justice,” Henderson said. “There is a need for justice, but there is also a need for love.”
The Christian concept of a just war in relation to the bombing raids in Afghanistan implies that anyone outside the terrorist network is left alone, Rev. Larry Oman of the United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs said.
“Sometimes you have to counter evil acts or persons,” Oman said. “Trying to hold accountable those who were behind the attacks is very much in order.”
Oman said he has taken several opportunities to remind his congregation that God reigns in the midst of tragedy and suffering as well as in the good times.
“And they’ve responded,” he said. “We’ve had lots of people come on Sunday that maybe we haven’t seen in a while or who wouldn’t usually come to church.”
He said he hopes people seeking comfort and trying to make sense of the tragedy will catch a glimpse of God’s humanity.
“God suffers when His people suffer,” Oman said. “He does not willingly injure or afflict His people.”
Every time Rev. Wayne Koenig stands before the people of Concordia Lutheran Church, he sees the faces of people who were unprepared for such a violent and unwarranted attack, he said.
“So many people are dealing with such a sudden burden of grief,” Koenig said. “People are sad that we live in a world that is capable of doing such harsh and hateful things.”
Koenig explained that Lutheran doctrine teaches that mankind lives in a fallen world that tends toward evil.
But even in this fallen world, he said, people have in recent weeks been able to find consolation through faith in a higher authority.
“I’ve heard talk about ‘one nation under God’ that I’ve never heard before,” Koenig said. “And I don’t think this is a short-term thing. The faith in God of people in the church has just been reaffirmed.”
Questions will still remain in the minds of people of all faiths, even as they begin to find some reassurance in their places of worship.
The answer to humanity’s age-old question is not for men to reason, but for God to reveal in His time, Rev. Kevin King of Anchor Way Baptist Church said.
“God granted man freedom of choice,” King said. “What we saw on Sept. 11 was the product of evil choices.”
As many Americans embrace spirituality like they never have before, King said he hopes the nation will maintain its renewed appreciation for what endures.
“We haven’t been so consumed with our comforts and convenience lately, so we’ve been able to see in clear focus what is really important,” King said. “When everything else is stripped away, only the abiding presence of God sustains you.”
King and other clergymen make no apologies for God on Sept. 11.
Skeptics need to only think about the many stories of people who were late for work on Sept. 11 at the World Trade Towers or accounts of flights that were missed, King said.
“God didn’t go on vacation,” King said. “You only have to look at the countless miracles that occurred.
“He was there all along.”
To reach Danie Harrelson call 871-4208
or e-mail email@example.com
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