Sunday, June 19, 2011

Planning for September 11, 2011

I woke up this morning thinking about September 11 and the fact that September 11 falls on a Sunday.  I probably don't need to tell you that it's the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.  It's also the anniversary of the coup that ended the administration of Allende and let Pinochet take power.  It's also the anniversary of one of the most destructive hurricanes in American history, Hurricane Iniki, which devastated the Hawaiian islands of Kauai and Oahu.

What shall we do with this knowledge as an individual church?  Some churches might ignore the anniversaries, but this year in particular, it will be hard to just pretend.

I'd argue that we have an opportunity that doesn't often come our way.

We can do something that memorializes the dead.  We could talk about the prison of fundamentalist thinking that leads people to these kinds of expression that result in so much death and destruction.  We could expand the discussion to talk about other people who die because of other kinds of oppression. 

We could use the day to do some ecumenical outreach.  I'm shocked by how many people still believe that Islam mandates or even approves of the kind of violence that we saw on September 11.  We could talk about that.  Maybe we want to be very brave and invite some Muslims to our churches that day.

I have been tasked with developing some sort of community art project.  I have two ideas, but it's early in the process.  I thought the cross that we made for our Create in Me retreat was quite beautiful.  The theme of the retreat was Broken but Beautiful, and that theme fits for September 11.

We had a cross constructed of plexiglass and lumber, which we filled with broken objects:  from broken shoes to pottery to headlights.  People could write on the objects, if they wanted.  One woman wrote "Tuscaloosa."  Our retreat began the day after the tornadoes that did such damage.  Others wrote about more private things.

In the end, we had a beautiful creation.

Could we make this work at the local church level?  Would we have enough broken objects to fill a cross?  If we made the cross a permanent installation at our labyrinth, would it be subject to vandalism?

My other idea begins with origami peace cranes.   Has that been done too much?

If I was a different kind of artist, a mural would be interesting.  Other possibilities?

I tend to think there's plenty of time, but there's really not:  less than 3 months.  Soon the time for pondering will be over.

But not this morning.  I'd love to hear if your church is planning anything special, either as part of the service that Sunday morning or around the time period, for September 11.


Wendy said...

I love the broken cross. We're doing something that involves children processing (maybe with chimes they make during the education hour) and ecumenism and I'm not sure what else (not on that committee). We are delaying Church School Kick-off until the following week so we don't have competing themes/tones.

Lynn Domina said...

I'm intrigued by that cross, too. At my church (First United Methodist of Oneonta, NY), we are hosting a performance of the Celtic Mass for Peace on Sept. 11.