Saturday, September 15, 2001

Tuesday, 6:20 AM PDT: A phone call from a friend. "I don't believe it. A plane out of nowhere hit the building." I rush to turn on the TV. I never turn on the TV in the morning. I hadn't even set the clock-radio alarm, so I might not have known anything was happening until I had logged onto my computer later in the morning. Watch with fascination and horror, listening to Peter Jennings struggle to find words that describe the pictures.

Tuesday, 9:00 AM: Pull away from the TV to shower. Try to start studying. The TV sits on my desk next to my computer. I swivel on my chair to the adjacent table. In preparation for tomorrow's class, I read the Enuma elish, the Babylonian "Creation Myth." Its violence is a fitting commentary on the scenes flashing silently from the muted TV next to me. Marduk, the chief god of Babylon, fights Tiamat, mother of the gods and representative of watery chaos.
They strove in single combat, locked in battle.
The lord spread out his net to enfold her,
The Evil Wind, which followed behind, he let loose in her face.
When Tiamat opened her mouth to consume him,
He drove in the Evil Wind that she close not her lips.
As the fierce winds charged her belly,
Her body was distended and her mouth was wide open.
He released the arrow, it tore her belly,
It cut through her insides, splitting the heart.
Having thus subdued her, he extinguished her life....
He split her like a shellfish into two parts:
Half of her he set up and ceiled it as sky,
Pulled down the bar and posted guards.
He bade them to allow not her waters to escape.
From ANET (abridged) pp. 34-35.

Tuesday, 4:00 PM: I gave up trying to study long ago. I receive another phone call. There will be a short service and communion at church.

Tuesday, 6:00 PM: After nearly 12 hours in front of my TV, I attend a simple service in the church hall. The pastor chooses a Christmas hymn.
It came upon the midnight clear, That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth To touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth, good will to all, From heav'ns all-gracious king."
The world in solemn stillness lay To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heav'nly music floats O'er all the weary world.
Above its sad and lowly plains They bend the hovering wing,
And ever o'er its babel sounds The blessed angels sing.
Then we read the litany. "Lord have mercy. Be gracious to us. Spare us, good Lord. From all sin, from all error, from all evil...From war, bloodshed, and violence...Good Lord, deliver us....In time of our tribulation...Save us, good Lord....To behold and help all who are in danger, need, or tribulation...We implore you to hear us, good Lord....Lord, have mercy." Then the eucharist.

Wednesday: I don't dare turn on the TV until noon. Then I listen to NPR as I drive out to school. Get home 10:30 PM.

Thursday 8:15 AM - 5:15 PM: Back to work. I compulsively go to various news sites throughout the day. My default/home site is the WSJ. I can't bear to look at the headlines blaring at me. Everyone is on edge. Someone criticizes President Bush. A retort: "At least he isn't sleeping with his intern!" "I don't care; I just wish he would show leadership!" The whole department retreats, silent, behind their monitors. Business partners from the east coast who are stranded in LA come for a meeting. One woman has a six-month-old baby from whom she is separated.

Thursday evening: I feel overwhelmed by the watery chaos of my house, of the world. I wash dishes for an hour. There is order in a tiny corner of the universe. Then I watch a Frontline special on Osama bin Laden. I had seen it when it played a few months ago. It is eerily prescient in its analysis.

Friday morning: Continue my fight against chaos by doing laundry. Watch part of the service at the National Cathedral. Discuss this Sunday's service with the pastor. Everything has changed.

Friday afternoon: Go to work.

Frioday evening: Go to church to practice the organ for Sunday. "God of grace and God of glory....Grant us wisdom, grant us courage For the facing of this hour."

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