Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: In light of the tragedy in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania the prevailing question seems to be "how could this happen?"

In Tom Clancey?s great novel Debt of Honor his primary character, Jack Ryan, has become first the Vice President of our country and then later the President. He became President as a result of a terrorist attack on Washington D. C.

Throughout most of the book a plot was working where at least some in Japan sought to enter war with the United States once again. They had seized power in Japan from the controlling government and had set the wheels into motion. Eventually the plot was uncovered and the plan was squashed.

Throughout the book the current Vice President was involved controversy and cover-up. Finally, toward the end of the book he resigns and the President asks Jack Ryan to be Vice President to finish out the term as a reward for all of his hard work for the country. The night comes, the senate approves Ryan in a roll call vote and he is about to be sworn in when a lone Japanese airline pilot, for the glory of Japan, steers an empty jumbo jet into the capital, killing just about everyone inside the building. Ryan wasn?t in there, he was across the street waiting by an underground tunnel. While Ryan wasn?t in the capital, the President was. He was killed and Ryan became President.

During the events of the last Tuesday and the discussions that have happened since then, I have heard some say that the terrorists who attacked our country in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania might have taken their basic idea from the pages of this Tom Clancey novel. I can?t argue with that idea. It is entirely plausible. Far stranger things happen every day in the world around us.

In at least a few of those conversations I have heard that Tom Clancey shouldn?t write such things in his books. That I can argue with. To say that Tom Clancey shouldn?t write any more is to blame Tom Clancey for this great tragedy. As far as I can tell, from the investigation, no American is to blame for what happened. Yes, mistakes may have been made. Yes, we should start doing some things differently. But, our people are not to blame, not for this. Evil-minded people, throughout history have devised ways to carry out their terrible plans that bring devastation on the lives of others. This incident is no different.

In Clancey?s book, if memory serves me correctly, the question was asked, "how could this have happened?" This week I have heard the same question or similar questions asked about the terrorist attacks that have hit our country in New York, Washington, and rural Pennsylvania. I can?t remember if Clancey addressed this in Debt of Honor, I have read a couple more of his books since then. And, if he addressed the question, I can?t remember what he said. But, I know I can address the question both in the book and in real life America this week. This happened because evil exists in our world. It is just that plain and simple. It happened because some people that hate our country think the only way to change the world is through hate and terror, through killing innocent people and destroying the property of others.

I think it would be all but impossible for any of us to think that evil doesn?t exist in our world. All we need to do is look at the evidence, the remains of so many buildings that are now piles of rubble, the pieces of four airplanes scattered over the land, the bodies that represent so many lives cut short, not to even mention the bodies of many that we will probably never find all because of the evil that exists in the hearts of a relatively small group of people.

I have always found it interesting that a charismatic leader (I don?t mean charismatic in the religious sense) could assert such a powerful control over people. Men like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite, and Charles Manson to name only a few. They have asserted so much control over people that they have killed themselves and/or others with very little regard to what they were doing or to how permanent their actions are. I have a hard time imagining how someone could possibly fall into such a trap, become brainwashed, and blindly follow their leader without every questioning his tactics or motives. It is absolutely frightening to think about.

In recent years we have started hearing about this Muslim leader Osama bin Laden and what we are hearing is even more frightening. My knowledge of Islam is limited. I learned a little while taking a course in world religions during seminary. I did, however, learn enough to know that this is not what Islam is supposed to be about. True Muslims believe that they worship the same God we worship, the same God the Jews worship, the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. They believe we are all on the same path to spiritual enlightenment. The only difference is, they are further along the path.

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