9/11,  Speaking of Terror Part 1,  Terror

Speaking of Terror – Part I

It was not a street anymore but a world, a time and space of falling ash and near night… The roar was still in the air, the buckling rumble of the fall. This was the world now. Smoke and ash came rolling down streets and turning corners, bursting around corners, seismic tides of smoke, with office paper flashing past, standard sheets with cutting edge, skimming, whipping past, otherworldly things in the morning pall.1

Whatever we were doing that day, almost ten years ago, we stopped to look. We all have an image in our minds of those towers, the planes, the pentagon, the field in Pennsylvania. At some point we stopped looking and began to talk.  Those who wrote were able to provide frameworks for thinking about the event – historical cause, political quandary, existential meaning. But responses to 9/112 were not merely descriptive, but prescriptive – they attempted to convince us to think about the event in a certain way. They used the event to prove a point. 9/11 became part of a system, something which exposed reality.

In the following blogs I will analyze various perspectives which have been used to explain, interpret and assimilate the terrorist attacks of 9/11. I have dug up the initial reactions of Marxists, secularists, modernists, Christians and postmoderns in an attempt to understand how the various ways we responded to terror reveals that which we presuppose is true about reality.

I am convinced that Christianity is the only worldview which makes any sense in the face of terror.3 It is uniquely equipped with the understanding of language, metaphysics, epistemology and ethics that gives meaning to any event in history, even one so frightful as occured on 9/11.

Don DeLillo, Falling Man (New York: Scribner, 2007), 1.
2 I have chosen the abbreviation 9/11 for brevity (it is, as Martin Amis notes, only four syllables as opposed to the six in September 11) and because it is a distinctly American date (9/11 is November 9 in Europe. Ironically, as Amis also notes, that is the date the Berlin Wall came down in 1989) see Martin Amis, The Second Plane: September 11: Terror and Boredom (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008), 193-196.
3 Terror is from the Latin terror meaning dread, panic, affright or great fear.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy and History of Ideas at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern.