Ten Years Ago
I was in college studying music, my junior year, had an 8am (Central time) class which met in a room just off the main office for the music department. When I got to the office the secretary said there was some news about a plane hitting the WTC. It would have just happened, so news reports were obviously very vague. I assumed it was an aviation accident and also assumed it to be a small private plane. Went to class as usual, not overly concerned. I also thought it might be some kind of hoax.
When we took our break there was lots more news: Another plane had hit the WTC and one had hit the Pentagon while we were in class, obviously no longer an accident. I think the PA crash was still not being accurately reported at the time. I’m pretty sure that the first tower had collapsed but not the second one, by the time we took our break. Actually, looking at the timeline, the second tower probably went down while we were on our break. I had chills, it came back to me just now as I typed this recollection. That feeling that it isn’t an accident but an attack. We continued our class, however.
The rest of the day was pretty odd to me, I didn’t have any more classes that I remember that day, or the school may have canceled the afternoon classes, I did work in the computer lab and remember tracking the news constantly. I also remember being kind of in a daze for most of that day.
The next day all I remember is going to church that evening (Wednesday night we had prayer meeting and I did my planning on Wednesdays, I was the choir director at a small church in rural Mississippi). I was already drifting away from conservative Christianity and actually from religion in general and I was more than a little bothered by the people saying that the attacks were god’s punishment on America and the people calling for revenge on all Muslims. I doubted very much that god had a hand in any of this, if he existed he just sat back and watched it unfold. I was a bit naive concerning other religions at the time and assumed the attacks were primarily political in nature, rather than religious, so I didn’t really make that connection until later.
I never prayed for those who lost their loved ones on that day. I never prayed for those who died. I never prayed for or against those who were involved in the attacks. I never said a prayer of healing for our nation. I never prayed for my own protection. What vestiges of my religion were still around didn’t play much role in my reactions to these attacks.
9/11 wasn’t the reason I became an atheist, but it was another step down that road for me. It added to the solidification of my departure from conservative mainline Christianity and toward a more liberal view. I didn’t leave the conservative church, the next church I would attend was PCA, a conservative Presbyterian denomination, but in my own views I was becoming more and more liberal (though I would call myself a moderate, even until recently, since the word “liberal” is considered so dirty by the conservatives whom I had been a part of for so long).
Now, ten years later, I no longer hold onto any vestiges of my religion. I know that there was no god watching, orchestrating, or allowing the attacks. There was no god who could have stepped in and saved the thousands of lives lost on that day. There was no god using the attacks as punishment on our nation for sin, and there was certainly no god directing people to attack us for their religion. I take comfort in these things.