Since I donated my time to the Unitarian Fellowship at Chautauqua I feel like I was a minister-on-loan for a week. I was an emissary from Westport, preaching at their Sunday service and offering a series of five lectures, from Monday to Friday.
It went well. The lectures are on our website under the sermon section. I’ve also added my poetry anthology, Natural Selections, to our website, under the reading section.
My week at Chautauqua was work-focused; it was very gratifying. I had a lot of appreciative response, and I was able to spend a good deal of time every day not only focusing on the next-day’s lecture, but thinking about sermons for the coming church year.
I had a break from newspapers, radio and television. I learned about the London tragedy by word of mouth. I remembered a day last summer when Carlyn and I made a special trip together to the King’s Crossing Station in London because scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed there. Now it’s the scene of devastation.
I found myself reflecting on the damage that has been inflicted on America, using 9-11 as a reference point and going backward, then forward, again, trying to connect the dots, as they say. Damage has been inflicted on our nation by the crazed terrorists “in the name of God.” Some damage has been self-inflicted by those whose policies and decisions (often in the name of God) have brought us into the disaster in Iraq. Our moral standing is eroding.
At the Sunday service following 9-11 Zoe Apoian, age ten at the time, asked, “Why do they hate us so much?” You and I have been pondering that thorny question. One of the sermons I didn’t get around to, and should have, is a review of the holy wars against the Muslims known as the Crusades.
Pope Urban II initiated the Crusades in 1095. Forget, for a moment, that it was “a long tome ago.” Think, for a moment at least, that the Crusades happened last year. That’s the way hundreds of millions of Muslims think about that slaughter, inflicted “in the name of God.”
When it comes to the history of the Middle East, nothing is ever forgotten. and nothing is ever forgiven. We’re either aware of it, or we’re not aware. Most people in America are not. It’s not a pretty picture. I’ve used some of my summer reading time to look at it again. William Faulkner said, “The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.’ Connect the dots.
President Bush stepped into Bin Laden’s snare when he referred to the war on terrorism as “This crusade.” His remark was translated into Arabic as “war of the cross.” The Crusades were a crime against humanity, in the name of the Christian god. The war in Iraq, built on false or faulty information and lies, has brought us back a thousand years. We’ll talk about it more in detail, soon. These are hard moral issues we need to look at. I don’t presume to have all the answers but ill keep digging, and encourage you to do the same.