September 11, 2001 is a date that prompts many of us to reflect. That day—for good and for ill—has had a serious impact on the psyche of our nation, and it is only fitting that we take the time to do some reflection and remembrance.

monochrome photo of New York city during daytime showing the twin towers in lower Manhattan before September 11th
Photo by Thomas Svensson on

As one who grew up in New York State and who has lived in Washington, D.C. for most of my life, I found myself deeply affected by the events of that day. And because I was in seminary when it happened, even my theological education was shaped profoundly. The papers I wrote in the weeks and months afterward all bear the marks of that day and are reflections on it. I wrote exegetical papers on Psalm 79 (“Where Is Their God?“) and Psalm 122 (“Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem“) and preached a sermon for our Psalms course entitled “Disorientation” whose major themes were reflections on September 11th.

Of course, the reflections did not end there and transitioned from grief and sorrow to sober consideration of what lessons we are to take from the events of September 11th. Questions about mercy and forgiveness, especially prompted by the lectionary passages for September 11, 2005 (“How many times must I forgive?”), began to come to the fore. These reflections acknowledge the fact that we would be shaped by the events of September 11th, but we need not be defined by them, nor shaped in a particular way.

What follows below are some of the reflections I’ve made over the years, through papers, sermons, and essays. They don’t represent the totality of my reflections since some of them—maybe even some of the better ones—were never put into writing. But these represent my contribution to the ongoing conversation about that day and its meaning for us. To the extent that you find them interesting or helpful in your own reflection, then they will have served their purpose.

Video: A Religious Argument Against the Flat Earth

Video: A Religious Argument Against the Flat Earth

Jul 10, 20231611 min read
In a way, there is a religious fundamentalist quality to this globe-denialism, and it occurred to me that there is a quasi-religious foundation for people’s stubborn belief in a flat earth. I’m no scientist, but I do know religion, and so into the fray I jumped with a video entitled “A Religious Argument Against the Flat Earth.”
Image of St. Mark from an Armenian edition of the gospels

At Long Last: The Good News according to Mark

Mar 18, 20239097 min read
My primary aim in this book was to put before the reader a presentation of different levels of translation for this sacred text. In so doing, I hoped to allow the reader to see the fundamental strangeness of the text and its familiarity at the same time, and come to see just what it is that I have come to love about Mark’s gospel.
Billboard reading:

The Shitty Theology Along I-95

Mar 9, 20235381 min read
On a recent road trip to through the South, I saw a series of billboards with religious message. These billboards were clearly part of a single theological viewpoint. And that theological viewpoint is terrible.
King Arthur and his knights from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

A King Like No Other

Nov 20, 20227383 min read
There is some embarrassment in the modern church about Christ the King Sunday. It’s viewed as patriarchal, monarchist, and imperialist: all the things that a good modern-day Christian should oppose. And we should. But there’s something missing from that understanding, and that’s that proclaiming Christ as King has always been a subversive act. 
Icon of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

A God of the Living

Nov 6, 20226092 min read
Jesus responds to the Sadducees’ ingenuous question with solid legal analysis, theological understanding, and linguistic analysis. But even more than the deftness with which he deals with the Sadducees’ hypothetical, he teaches us a powerful lesson about God’s nature.

One thought on “Reflections on September 11th

  1. It was of great interest to me to learn about the supposed identity of St. Matthews, as explained by your research, since it is a word that comes out of our mouths and is in our minds very often.

    I have visited Shanksville, Ground Zero, and Trinity Church; I must admit I shed many, many tears on 9/11 last week. I can close my eyes and see the soup kettle in the church where meals were made for the firefighters, and see the scars on the pews, made by their boot buckles, as the responders tried to rest.

    The bell outside, a miniature of the Liberty Bell, was cast in the same foundary as the Liberty Bell; only in England could a company be in business for that long. The inscription on the bell says, “Wrought in Anguish.” Sincerely, Beth Lingg, a 51 year member of St. Matthew’s, Bowie.

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