Monday, September 12, 2005

Subdeaconing on Sept. 11, 2005 

Well, four years ago on that date I was standing in Shorty's drinking my morning coffee looking at the big screen TV upon which was being depicted the image we have now come to know as so familiar: a smoking World Trade Center tower. Only one plane had struck at that time and the initial, retrospectively embarrassing thought that ran through my mind was, "Well, that was dumb." How wrong I was.

We did a special opening litany at St. Luke's to commemorate the day. It was quite tastefully done, remembering those who lost their lives, those who worked to rescue the survivors, all those whose lives were forever changed, as well as the fact that our own pain turned murderous as we sought justice and revenge, sometimes even against the innocent. I think it really moved people.

It was my first Sunday to serve as Subdeacon, and I think, on the whole, it went pretty smoothly. I'll need to work on refining some things, though -

All that will come in good time, I have no fear.

To close, I would like to offer you some of the words I recently read in the most recent issue of my fraternity's alumni newsletter, the Theta Tauker. They were written by a brother, Sam Newlands, who was a senior when I was a freshman, and serve as the opening for his short treatise on brotherhood, but are especially poignant for today. Sam is currently working on his Ph.D. in Philosophy at Yale University.

"These days, nearly everyone is a hero. Every member of our armed services is a hero. Every single firefighter, police officer, paramedic, emergency room doctor and nurse, life-guard – all are routinely called "heroes." I suppose that Tim Fisher, who tells me he is applying for a part-time job as a veterinary assistant, is thereby applying to be a part-time hero. Parents simply struggling to raise their own children are now referred to in heroic terms. One post-9/11 commentator declared that everyone still living in New York City was a hero – all 10 million of ‘em. As a philosopher, I’m tempted to worry here about the effects of elevating nearly everyone to the status of hero, thereby making the label nearly vacuous and slowly draining it of the inspiring esteem it once conjured up in our minds. (It is similar to the leveling problem that Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Wobegon community suffers from: if all their children are "above average," they thereby all become average – which is precisely Keillor’s sly point.)"

(Read the full article: Some Thoughts on Brotherhood, page 6 & 7.)



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