Summary: The attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon brings new awareness of our sins and God’s search.

The Massive Search Matthew 18:1-14

Rev. Anne Grant

Trinity United Methodist Church, Providence, RI 02907

Sunday, September 16, 2001 (following 9/11/01 attacks on World Trade Center and Pentagon)

For the rest of our lives,

we will remember what we were doing on September 11th.

Phil and I had decided to stay home and do our work there

side by side on our computers,

so that we could work all morning, have lunch together,

work through the afternoon, and have dinner together,

and then take the evening off

because it was our 36th wedding anniversary.

Those plans like everyone else’s were changed in an instant.

On the day that we were giving thanks for our own love story,

thousands of other love stories came to a violent end.

In the days since then,

we’ve been taking quantum leaps of consciousness.

As a nation we are struggling to comprehend all the reasons

why we were hit in such a skilled and savage way.

We also see that it is not just our sworn enemies,

like Osama bin Laden,

who are enraged at the arrogance of power

that this nation represents,

but even our sworn friends and allies have been angry at us.

Maybe they’re not angry this week.

This week they are stunned and grieving with us.

But for many weeks before this, they have been angry at us.

People around the world have been horrified

by our country’s decision not to cooperate with the Kyoto Protocol

under which more than a hundred nations had already agreed

to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases

that contribute to global warming.

Within the nations allied to us there are many who

have been dismayed by the U.S. insistence on

making more and more money at the risk of the entire planet.

In recent weeks, we have seen enormous demonstrations

against the United States among our friends

who are also horrified that we are unilaterally breaking

the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that for thirty years

has protected the world from escalating the nuclear arms race.

As if those unilateral decisions didn’t do enough damage,

we withdrew from the World Conference on Racism

where we could have addressed our own signature sin as a nation.

Why do they hate us? One commentator asked that yesterday and

observed that the United States is exporting a kind of worldliness—

a cultural imperialism that is dehumanizing and deeply offensive

to many people around the world.

Here’s a quiz:

Can you guess what the most watched TV show in all the world is? From the slums of Brazil to the

Bedouin tents in the Arabian desert,

what television show is watched the most?

Take a guess.


I’ve never even seen Baywatch, but I’ve read enough about it

and the characters in it to know that I don’t want to see it.

Many of you find your children completely enthralled with

the mindlessness of television

and the seductiveness of its consumer values.

And we feel so helpless.

We don’t know what to do, because we have to work.

We feel like there’s no way to control what our children

And their friends are watching when we’re away from home.

And they start mimicking what they see and hear—

We can see them practicing,

Wanting to strut their stuff like the MTV stars--

Becoming totally absorbed in themselves.

The rest of the world looks at American television

And they think this is really us.

The very poorest people around the world

Who may have no food, no clean water, no health care,

certainly none of the freedoms we flaunt.

They look at Baywatch and think it

Really is the way we live in the United States.

If we feel helpless against the onslaught of commercial television

With such dehumanizing values, can you imagine what

the vulgarity of those shows creates in

a culture where parents are trying so hard

to teach their children a high sense of the holiness of Allah?

Trying to teach their children modesty in regard to their bodies?

Trying to teach them respect for others?

From the deserts to the slums,

hundreds of thousands of satellite dishes

receive programs from America that poison their children’s minds

and pollute their spirits.

And to many of them—that is an act of war.

The United States is harboring the terrorists

Who threaten to bring down their whole way of life.

Here’s another quiz:

Do you know what the number 1 favorite name for baby boys is

in Moslem countries? [Mohammed.]

Do you know what the second most favorite

name among Moslims is for baby boys? [Osama.]


[Yusef Podansky, author of Osama bin Laden, the Man Who Declared War on America, quoted on National Public Radio, 9/15/01.]

Why? Because Osama bin Laden is seen

as a fearless freedom fighter—

fighting to set their culture free from Satan—

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