Posts Tagged ‘Life’

A place to fill out their souls

14 July 2014 - By

From the The Lowell Sun: A welcoming family: St. Casimir’s Parish in Lowell welcomes those seeking faith to its tight-knit community

LOWELL — It may be one of Lowell’s best kept secrets, particularly for those who love traditional Polish foods like pierogi (dumplings), golabki (cabbage roll) or kapusta (braised sauerkraut or cabbage with bacon, mushroom and onion).

At a church kitchen and hall on Lakeview Avenue, volunteers who know their way around a dough pressing machine as well as the tricks to producing the perfect cabbage roll lend their talents a few times a month to their church, St. Casimir’s Polish National Catholic Church.

The team effort of these volunteers, who range in age from pre-teens to their 90s, results in hundreds of handmade pierogi and golabki, plus dozens of quarts of kapusta — all later frozen and sold in their parish store.

On Sundays from 11 a.m. to noon, St. Casimir’s Parish Store is open to the public. Pierogi sell for $11 per dozen, kapusta is $6 per quart, golabki $18 a dozen. Proceeds benefit the parish.

“This is a labor of love. We make these the old-fashioned way, with so many steps that it’s time-consuming. People often don’t have the time today,” said Joanne Menzia, who took part in the pierogi assembly line on Tuesday, along with more than a dozen other volunteers.

“People use pierogi as a side dish, a main dish, or even as an appetizer,” said Janice Klimczak. “We sell quite a lot of them.”

The store also sells for $12 each the parish’s new cookbook, A Taste of Heaven, featuring traditional Polish recipes from church members as well as recipes contributed by the church’s many non-Polish members.

Doing his own part in the pierogi assembly line was the pastor, the Rev. Andrzej Tenus, a native of northern Poland who came to the United States in 2006 speaking no English.

Tenus, a former Roman Catholic priest, born in 1972, and a current beekeeper, musician, husband and father of four, went to Pennsylvania to study English for three months at the Polish National Catholic Church headquarters. He was preparing for his new role as a pastor within the Polish National Catholic Church in the U.S.

He did pretty well with the Pennsylvania dialect; then he came to Lowell, where the Boston accent made it a little more difficult, he said, smiling. Today, Tenus has only a trace of a Polish accent, which belies the fact that he’s spoken English for less than a decade.

One of the questions he’s often asked from those outside the community is how the Polish National Catholic Church differs from the Roman Catholic Church. Many find it hard to grasp, he said, how a Catholic church in Lowell is not connected to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, that its bishops and priests (since 1921) are allowed to marry, and the church is democratic. Its governing board chooses the pastor, controls the finances, and the parish owns its assets.

The Polish National Catholic Church, according to its website, is a Christian denomination formed in 1897 in Scranton, Pa. While it serves the spiritual needs of its members, it also welcomes all people who wish to follow Christ. Today, there are more than 25,000 members in the United States.

The National Catholic movement, which encompasses more than the Polish National Church, resulted from the division in the Christian Church that similarly initiated the Protestant movement. However, according to the St. Patrick Catholic Church website, a National Catholic Church in Rhode Island, it differs from the Protestant divisions in that it kept its belief in the Mass and the priesthood necessary to have the Mass, as well as other Catholic rites and rituals.

The liturgy, especially the contemporary liturgy that Tenus is initiating at St. Casimir, closely resembles that of the Roman Catholic Church. Standing inside St. Casimir’s Church, which was built in 1908 for the then-large Polish community in the city’s Centralville neighborhood, is like standing inside any Roman Catholic Church.

“We keep the same beliefs. The difference is only in the administration level. We’re not connected to Rome,” said Tenus.

Tenus leads a busy life while living next to the church with his wife, Agnes, who followed her husband to the United States three months after his arrival. In Poland, Agnes trained as a nutritionist and professional cook. She creates recipes from her home country and often bakes desserts for home and the church with the honey Tenus harvests from three bee hives located at St. Casimir Cemetery in Pelham. Beekeeping was a hobby Tenus started in Poland and has since resurrected.

Their children, Karina, 13, Jonah, 9, Christoper, 6 and Amelia, 3, consider St. Casimir’s close-knit parish family as surrogate aunts, uncles and grandparents, Tenus said. Likewise, the parishioners love having them here, he added.

Tenus has many ideas to keep the small parish active within and outside the community, including a busy youth group that produces an annual talent show. He emphasizes the importance of welcoming others to their church.

“No matter your background, ethnicity or denomination, we don’t look at that. Just people with good will looking for some place to fill out their souls,” he said. “If you need comfort, a place to pray, this is the place. We do not judge — it’s not up to us to judge.”

Sunday Mass is offered at 10 a.m. at 268 Lakeview Ave., Lowell, followed by fellowship hour. For more information, visit the parish website, call 978-453-0742, or send an E-mail.

Watch live streaming video from StCasimirs at

‘My Mother’s Secret’ Bestseller Covers Heroic Acts to Safeguard Jews During WWII

18 June 2013 - By

From Christian Newswire: My Mother’s Secret, by J.L. Witterick, has been recognized by The Globe and Mail of Canada as a bestselling non-fiction book.

My Mother’s Secret honors two women who saved many Polish Jews from certain death. The book is based on the true story of Franciszka Halamajowa and her daughter Helena, who are honored as The Righteous Among the Nations, non-Jewish heroes who risked their lives to save the lives of Jewish citizens.

After 1939 when the Nazis invaded Poland and started the persecution of the Jewish population, Franciszka and her daughter provided shelter to Jewish individuals and families, as well as a German soldier, all acts punishable by death. With courage and cleverness, they outsmart the Nazi commander and their collaborating neighbors.

My Mother’s Secret is a powerfully written story and has been chosen to be used as curriculum in studies by Middle East exchange students. The book has also been awarded Rising Star stature by iUniverse.

Rabbi Chaim Boyarsky said, “In My Mother’s Secret, a new level of heroism is revealed … heroism where no ‘wow’ or admiration was given. True heroism is when no one sees or knows! A truly inspiring and breathtaking book.”

“My Mother’s Secret is heroism defined. It is just so much more cherishable because it is a story based on fact. We are indebted to Jenny Witterick for sharing this book with us,” says Grady Harp a Top 50 Amazon Reviewer.

“My Mother’s Secret has a strong message about finding good in the midst of the most unbelievable evil,” adds one reviewer.

The author, J.L. Witterick, encountered the true story of heroism during the Holocaust because of a chance viewing of a documentary about the Holocaust. Witterick is not the usual author; she is the President of Sky Investment Counsel, one of the largest international money managers in Canada, was President of the Toronto Society of Financial Analysts in 1995/1996 and is a Certified Financial Advisor Charterholder.

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PNCC Member featured as Northeast Woman for charity work

24 April 2013 - By

From the Times Tribune: Need to nourish Throop woman lives faith, helping to create One Hot Meal

Supplies were running low for Carol Nasser and her fellow volunteers at One Hot Meal as they doled out warm meals to people in need.

It was meatloaf day, and there was just one loaf left. But, somehow, that loaf kept giving, and they fed everyone who came by seeking nourishment with one slice to spare.

Mrs. Nasser has not forgotten that moment from the early days of One Hot Meal, the program she and a few others started at their church, St. Stanislaus Polish National Catholic Cathedral in Scranton, on New Year’s Day in 2008.

“That was in God’s hands,” said Mrs. Nasser of Throop, who often shares the meatloaf story. “It was like the loaves of bread (Bible story).”

A couple hundred people sit down to a warm, homemade meal every month thanks in part to the dedication of Mrs. Nasser, who knows many people could use the help, especially in the current economic climate. Funded entirely by donations, the program provides meals to anyone who wants them on the first Saturday of every month from 1 to 3 p.m. at the cathedral’s youth center, 530 E. Elm St.

“We opened it up for anyone in need of a meal,” Mrs. Nasser said.

Feeding the hungry

Jesus said to feed the hungry, Mrs. Nasser pointed out, and even before One Hot Meal began, she noticed a need in the community and set out to remedy it. She was known to whip up a pot of chili or soup and take it to the Scranton Rescue Mission, and she even would take her leftovers from a restaurant and hand them out to people in need on the street.

“I love doing it,” said Mrs. Nasser, who also pointed out that she wishes more people would know One Hot Meal is there to help. “I’ve always had the passion, I guess, for the homeless (and) feeding people.”

Helping drive this desire to help nourish the hungry is Mrs. Nasser’s love for cooking, a love she inherited from her late mother, Sophie Zanghi.

“Growing up, I did a lot helping my mother, and it was sort of my thing,” she said.

Her father’s Sicilian heritage – which left her with recipes like those for her grandmother’s sauce – led to the start of an Italian dinner at her church, which raised money for One Hot Meal. She cooked for that first benefit and hopes to hold another one soon.

Mrs. Nasser, who also used to help with Catholic Social Services’ annual angel tree, has even expanded her charitable work beyond the kitchen again. She and her church community also have reached out to the needy by collecting clothing, accessories like scarves and gloves, and nonperishable food for them.

A stay-at-home mom and grandmother with three grown daughters and an infant grandson, Mrs. Nasser expects nothing in return for anything she does, said her friend Kathy Kotula, who nominated her for Northeast Woman.

“She has a good heart,” Ms. Kotula said.

Helping hands

One Hot Meal has grown since Mrs. Nasser helped launch it five years ago, and volunteers prepare 200 meals per month these days. They have a great group of helpers, too, she said, and they help in a myriad of ways, from cooking to donating food to delivering meals.

“We have dozens of volunteers that help us, like parishioners and even people who aren’t from our parish,” said Mrs. Nasser, whose family members also pitch in.

In addition to handing them out at the center, community members also deliver meals to people who are homebound or elderly, to shelters and to other community organizations that feed people in need.

“I just wish more people would know what we’re offering and come,” Mrs. Nasser said.

The newest in intolerance

15 January 2013 - By

From The Telegraph: A new intolerance is nudging faith aside

We are not only a Christian country, we are a tolerant one – but it seems the new secularism has no room for toleration

Practicing Christians may be forgiven for feeling like an oppressed minority in this predominantly Christian country.

Yesterday’s judgment by the European Court of Human Rights on people’s right to manifest their religion in the workplace once again leaves them coming off second best to the forces of secularism and political correctness.

In only one case, that of the British Airways employee Nadia Eweida, did the court uphold the individual’s religious rights, in this instance to wear a small cross at work. Miss Eweida was suspended for wearing it on the grounds that it breached BA’s uniform code. But as the ECHR observed, other BA employees had previously been allowed to wear items of religious clothing such as turbans and hijabs “without any negative impact on BA’s brand or image”. The airline has since changed its policy and now allows the wearing of some religious symbols.

But the three other cases in yesterday’s judgment went the other way. Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who was prevented on health and safety grounds from wearing a necklace with a cross at work as she had for 31 years; Gary McFarlane, a marriage counsellor who was sacked after saying he might object to counselling gay couples; and Lillian Ladele, a registrar who was disciplined after refusing to conduct civil partnership ceremonies – all were told that their rights had not been violated by their employers, even though they had acted as they had because of their religious convictions.

When an individual’s sincerely held beliefs come into collision with the demands of their employers in this way, surely it is incumbent on both sides to try to resolve the conflict in a grown-up and sensible way. Yet instead of the application of a little common sense, we have seen protracted and costly legal action, followed by a judgment that severely curtails people’s rights to manifest their faith at work. This is part of a wider trend to nudge religion to the margins of society. People of faith are depicted as being not part of the mainstream, as being quirky and different. Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, spoke out persuasively in this newspaper yesterday about the “intolerance of aggressive secularism” and it is time more voices like his were raised.

We are not only a Christian country, we are a tolerant one – but it seems the new secularism has no room for toleration. When these cases first arose, a number of church leaders warned of “apparent discrimination” against churchgoers where the “religious rights of the Christian community are being treated with disrespect”. That claim seems less alarmist than ever.

Several observations. Overall, the point is well taken. If we wish to stress mutual tolerance we need to not just “tolerate,” but accept and respect each individuals’ expression of their belief or non-belief. No one or their beliefs should be marginalized. It is hypocritical to do otherwise.

In relation to the Shirley Chaplin case, the nurse prevented on health and safety grounds from wearing a necklace with a cross at work as she had for 31 years – this makes sense just as doctors have been most recently advised not to wear neckties in patient care. Religion and science should not conflict in such matters.

In relation to people who refuse to do certain things, generally a “job requirement” on the grounds it conflicts with their faith, I give them kudos for sticking to their beliefs and sacrificing for it. It must be remembered however that as Christians we must be prepared to accept persecution for following our faith. We cannot have it both ways. Obviously the martyrs did so, even more so. As with soldiers who refused to go to or fight in Iraq based on their belief in the injustice of the “war,” and were subsequently prosecuted and jailed, or received dishonorable discharges, we must be prepared to accept the consequences of our adherence to our beliefs.

A great point in saying “surely it is incumbent on both sides to try to resolve the conflict in a grown-up and sensible way.” There is always a way to compromise. For example, find the nurse a different job with no patient contact, adjust other work duties, etc. Taking a breath before taking action is the wiser course.

Reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

30 June 2012 - By

Isn’t life a pain?
Not if you rise up and live!

“Little girl, I say to you, arise!”

Janell King writes about her experience in Malaysia:

At home, I have a painting of a little girl with her arms spread open, her head thrown back, and a smile on her face. On it are the words from the scripture above. I received this painting at a crucial point in my life. It seemed like the weight of the world was pressing me down, determined to crush me. Relatives had passed away, community was tough, school was overwhelming, and I couldn’t seem to connect with God. I felt somewhat dead. When I first saw this painting, I didn’t just read the words…it felt like God was speaking them straight into my spirit like the roar of a lion. I felt something in me awaken.

The last day in Malaysia, I was doing laundry when our contact Janet came out to talk to me. I had received some prophetic words the night before during prayer, and God had given her some more clarity for the things spoken. As she spoke, I was glued to what she was saying. I don’t know if you have ever had those moments where you feel like a complete stranger is peering in to you… reading your story… but it was one of those times. I couldn’t soak in what she was saying fast enough. In the middle of Janet’s conversation, she looked me straight in the eyes, pointed to me, and said “Rise Up!”

Those words continue to echo deep inside of me. I’ve been overwhelmed with all God is doing on the race. So much growth for such a short time. So much challenge in such a short time. Yet, despite the struggles, it’s time to arise and mature and act on my faith. I’ve been praying and praying that God would teach me the path of righteousness. It finally clicked that I know the way! He gave me the Word! He has given me the instructions. He has given me Holy Spirit! It’s time for my own heart to come alive. It’s time to lead others into the kingdom! To the little girl inside of me, longing for more, Rise up!

Jesus didn’t just heal from maladies. He raises us up so that we may live. Our call today is to trust in the Lord who created us for life and for good – to be light. Let us place our trust in Him and rise up, not in drudgery, but filled with life. Let us rise from our slumber because Jesus’ light shines on us. We are filled with the Holy Spirit. We have life and light that will last forever! The author of life will raise us up one day, but we shouldn’t wait. Rise up today and live. Smile. When people ask why, tell them the reason for your joy – Jesus.

Jan Karski to be awarded posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom

4 May 2012 - By

President Obama will award a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a former officer in the Polish Underground during World War II who was among the first to provide eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust to the world. The medal will be presented this summer on a date yet to be determined.

Karski was a long time member of The Kosciuszko Foundation and The American Center of Polish Culture (ACPC), which became heirs of Karski’s last will and testament.

On April 7, 2011, Kosciuszko Foundation President Alex Storozynski and Kaya Ploss, former Director of the ACPC, which is now part of the Kosciuszko Foundation, wrote to President Obama asking him to honor Jan Karski “a man of courage and great distinction who was a citizen of Poland, the United States and Israel. As representatives of the two Polish organizations in America that were beneficiaries of Jan Karski’s will, and having merged last year, we hope that you would consider awarding Jan Karski the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

The foundation was later joined in the quest by The Jan Karski Centennial Campaign, an initiative of the Polish History Museum in Warsaw. Members of the steering committee that have been pushing the campaign include: Alex Storozynski, President and Executive Director of The Kosciuszko Foundation; Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter; Robert L. Billingsley, Co-Chair, Georgetown University Jan Karski Centennial Campaign; David Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee; Andrzej Rojek, Kosciuszko Foundation Trustee; and campaign director Wanda Urbanska.

Jan Karski speaking at the Kosciuszko Foundation

The Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

President Obama said, “We must tell our children about how this evil was allowed to happen-because so many people succumbed to their darkest instincts; because so many others stood silent. But let us also tell our children about the Righteous Among the Nations. Among them was Jan Karski-a young Polish Catholic-who witnessed Jews being put on cattle cars, who saw the killings, and who told the truth, all the way to President Roosevelt himself. Jan Karski passed away more than a decade ago. But today, I’m proud to announce that I will honor him with America’s highest civilian honor-the Presidential Medal of Freedom.”

Karski served as an officer in the Polish Underground during World War II and carried among the first eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust to the world. He worked as a courier, entering the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi Izbica transit camp, where he saw first-hand the atrocities occurring under Nazi occupation. Karski later traveled to London to meet with the Polish government-in-exile and with British government officials. He subsequently traveled to the United States and met with President Roosevelt. Karski published Story of a Secret State, earned a Ph.D at Georgetown University, and became a professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. Born in 1914, Karski became a U.S. citizen in 1954 and died in 2000.

Prayer Vigil for the 1%

7 December 2011 - By

Interfaith Worker Justice will hold a Prayer Vigil for the 1% tomorrow, December 8th. You are invited to pray along, starting at 11 a.m., for the wealthiest Americans. We are calling on them to help us create an economy that works for 100 percent of us.

If you are on Facebook, you may RSVP to the Online Prayer Vigil. Then, tomorrow at 11 a.m., change your Facebook status to say: Praying for the One Percent: to whom much is given, more is required — Luke 12:48.

While thousands of unemployed workers and people of faith gather in Washington, D.C. tomorrow for a Flower Prayer Vigil for the 99 percent, I will be praying along with IWJ for the One Percent – the wealthiest Americans who have benefitted from unfair economic policies.

Please join in prayer, even if you’re not on Facebook.

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, IWJ’s national Board of Directors released “An Open Letter to the One Percent:”

To Whom Much Is Given, More is Required:
An Open Letter to the One Percent

During this time of financial crisis and economic disparity, we affirm the God-given dignity of every person. We believe God loves all 100 percent of us and wants to use us to create a more just society.

As faith leaders, we appreciate the generosity, charity, and commitment to the common good that many of you embody.

Still, some of you have used wealth and power to benefit the few at the expense of the many. We expect you to work with us to not only give generously, but to advocate for democracy and economic justice that works for everyone.

We call on you to:

  • Support tax policies and legislation that require more from you so our nation can create good jobs in America
  • Call for an extension of unemployment benefits for those unable to find work

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” We are in this together, all 100 percent of us.

National Board of Directors, Interfaith Worker Justice

Part of the new Fifth Estate – Latitude News

10 October 2011 - By

A brand new news site, Latitude News, that I have found to be really excellent. I’ve been using their beta site for a couple of weeks now. What I particularly like is their world view. Founded by Wojtek Szczerba and Maria Balinska, Latitude is not the pre-programmed, corporate-speak journalism that you might get from major media sources. The wider perspective comes from the fact that readers can be co-creators of international journalism (which includes local journalism). Co-creation is founded upon the fact that: “international isn’t ‘foreign’ anymore.” The American community is both local and connected to the world. Those connections are prime territory for exploration. Check Latitude out. Latitude describes themselves as follows:

Are you curious about how the rest of the world affects your everyday life?

Do you think it would be cool to know what the Koreans (who live in the most plugged in nation on earth) are doing about cyber bullying and how the Finns have drastically reduced heart disease rates?

Do you have great and surprising stories to share about your connections with people and places in other countries?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

For the next few months we invite you to collaborate with us at Latitude News as we navigate new media territory: the co-creation of international journalism with you as a crucial contributor. We’ll be posting different stories to kick start conversations with you. We’ll be testing different discussion technologies together. We want your feedback as to what you think works – and what doesn’t. Our promise to you is that we are responsive, respectful and committed to reliable, fact based reporting

Here at Latitude News our starting point is that international isn’t “foreign” anymore. Scratch the surface of any American community and you’ll find loads of exciting connections between Americans and the rest of the world just waiting to be explored. Most of the issues that we’re debating around the water cooler or online don’t exist in isolation: they have relevant and useful parallels abroad. Our approach is simple. We’re looking to tell stories about the world that connects with your heart and soul: because they’re relevant; because they’re engaging; because they’re entertaining.

It’s your news!

Finally, look out for our daily updates in Ear to the World, where Latitude News journalists highlight topical content from news providers around the world. Where else would you find out that Nigeria’s first lady is being urged to take Betty Ford as a role model; hear the latest popular ring tone in Egypt – ex President Mubarak saying “I completely deny all these charges”; and watch a slide show of how Chinese shrimping families are coping with an oil spill not unlike the 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Journalism is taking a turn to the future with your name on the masthead.

Stories are alive and dynamic at Latitude News. One story has the potential to become 100 and your input will determine our journalistic trajectory. Join a new movement in journalism that brings the world home.

And killing the innocent?

20 September 2011 - By

Troy Davis has 1 days to live before he is executed by the State of Georgia. But 7 witnesses say Troy is innocent, and that another man committed the crime for which he will be killed. Evidence presented at Troy’s trial was considered shaky at the time. Since then, seven witnesses have recanted their testimony, many saying they were pressured by police into false testimony. There’s no physical evidence Troy committed the crime. And, according to Amnesty International, nine people have signed affidavits implicating another man. Georgia’s Board of Parole and Pardons had said there should be “no doubt” about a person’s guilt before he is executed. Today they decided that “doubt” doesn’t matter.

Background on the case from Wikipedia.

From the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

E.D. Kain writing in Forbes with whom I totally agree: Troy Davis and the History of Injustice in America

The history of justice in America is pocked with such deep institutional injustices that time and again we make a mockery of the word. From slavery to the War on Drugs, the powerful have trampled time and again on the weak.

Law and order masquerade as justice, and our prisons fill to the brim with young men, mostly black and Hispanic, mostly poor. Meanwhile, inner cities lie like sunken ruins across the wealthiest nation in the history of civilization, stomped upon by drug warriors and poverty and violence.

And though we accept the limitations of our government and of the good judgment of our leaders, we nevertheless believe in the infallibility of this system we call justice, but which is not justice, to hand down the most final sort of judgment a man could ever know.

Troy Davis, convicted over two decades ago of killing an off-duty cop, though much doubt has been cast upon his guilt and the methods which police and prosecutors used to secure his conviction, will be executed by the state of Georgia tomorrow. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied him clemency, and there are no other avenues left to save him.

In the end, I am not concerned so much with whether or not Davis is guilty or innocent. I am concerned with the uncertainty of his guilt. “I’m not for blood. I’m for justice,” said the mother of the slain police officer. But we extract one or the other, not both. In a case where the blood may be that of an innocent, how can we call it justice?

If Davis is not guilty and we kill him nonetheless then we have simply stacked one murder on top of another. The life of Mark MacPhail will not be avenged. If Davis is guilty, surely serving out the remainder of his life in state prison should be enough. Justice does not require retribution.

Death is tragic. The death of Mark MacPhail is a tragedy that will never be undone. Not by blood, not by prison bars, not by time, not by proof that Davis is guilty or proof that he is innocent. But if we have even a glimmer of doubt about his guilt, there will be no justice in his death

I will not argue the death penalty here. There are times when it may be appropriate. However, a persons guilt or innocence cannot remain questionable. As long as questions persist, the course of least harm must be followed.

Reflections – 10 Years Later

11 September 2011 - By

From John Guzlowski, his poem Sept 13, 2001 found in his post: 9/11 — Ten Years Later

I’ve written a number of poems about 9/11 over the years. The first one was written a couple days of 9/11. That poem talked about how I wanted an end to 9/11. It didn’t happen then, and it hasn’t happened since…

Ted Monica, a fellow former seminarian at Wadhams Hall, and an Episcopal priest, offers his music: Sisters and Brothers.

To the Children of Emma Lazarus – a poem for 9/11 by Konrad Tademar

From Howard Community College on Danuta Hinc’s book To Kill the Other: A question of killing: Howard County author searches for an answer

Five days. That’s all it took after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, for Danuta Hinc to realize that she needed to write a book about how such a thing could happen.

“I realized that I needed to know what leads people to make such extreme choices,” says Hinc, who teaches professional writing at the University of Maryland College Park. “And the next question I asked was: Am I capable of killing someone?”

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Hinc stood in the living room of her Ellicott City townhouse, riveted to the TV screen, unable to sit down, unable to comprehend what she was witnessing.

“Like everyone else, I thought it was an accident. When the second plane hit, I realized to my horror that it was not,” says Hinc, who is in her early 40s and grew up in Poland under Communist oppression.

“My first thought was ‘They must be so organized,’ ” she remembers. Then she realized she didn’t know a thing about them.

“I hated them with all my heart. But I didn’t like that I hated them,” she says.

What eventually came of that rush of tangled emotions and questions, some 10 years later, is Hinc’s book, “To Kill the Other.” It’s a fictional story of a boy who grows up to become a terrorist. It’s not about al-Qaeda; it’s not about ideology. It’s about the choices human beings make.

She spent three and a half years researching and writing the story, which she first wrote in Polish. Then she spent another two-and-a-half years translating it into English. At the time, she was an adjunct professor of English and religion at Howard Community College.

“To Kill the Other” follows the journey of Taher, a sensitive Egyptian boy, from the time he was 7 to his presence as a terrorist on the first plane to hit the World Trade Center…

To Kill the Other (Perfect Paperback)

By (author): Danuta Hinc

Taher examined his reflection in the airplane's lavatory mirror long shadows cast down in sharp strokes and suddenly felt exhausted...It's okay, he thought, seeing the reflection of his lips move. He closed his eyes, faced the ceiling, and took a deep breath. It's okay, he whispered. It's okay.

How does a sensitive, scholarly boy from an affluent Egyptian family become a hijacker? Set in the two decades leading up to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, To Kill the Other tells the story of Taher and his spiritual transformation from an innocent young boy into a ruthless, disillusioned conformist. Exploring the circumstances and choices that shaped him, To Kill the Other builds toward an unimaginable act of mass terror in which Taher finally confronts who and what he has become.

'Very few people have written about the attack of 9/11 in a perspective of hijackers. Hinc has written a lucid, utterly gripping speculation expending our understanding of who the hijackers were and who motivated them. She provides an important new perspective to this event which has transformed our lives.'
Rabbi Martin Siegel, author of Amen: The Diary of Rabbi Martin Siegel.

'Hinc tells her story masterfully by weaving multiple perspectives, revealing the core of human sorrow and the transcendent quality of compassion.'
Chukwudi Okpala, author of The Uncircumcised
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Mark Skinner reflects for More Magazine: 9/11 Changed My Life

“I spent so many years doing what I ‘should’ do,” says Mary Skinner, who went from financial exec to award-winning filmmaker.

For 20 years, Mary Skinner climbed the corporate ladder in financial communications, at one point working on the 106th floor of Two World Trade Center, before moving to San Francisco to be close to her family. In the months leading up to 9/11, her life was in limbo. Living with her parents, she wrestled with an internal conflict about her professional future. “I spent so many years doing what I ‘should’ do,” she says. She wanted to return to New York, and even flew there that summer for an interview with a financial services start-up. When the ‘no-thanks’ letter arrived, her disappointment was sharp.

But as the catastrophe unfolded, Skinner’s hesitation disappeared. “I knew friends were caught on certain floors and didn’t make it,” she says. “I felt: I need to be there right now. I’ve got to go back. I had devoted my talent, heart and brain cells to helping somebody make a little more money on currency arbitrage. In the face of what was going on in the world, I felt like, that’s a sin.”

Two months later, Skinner boarded a plane for New York – without a job or a place to live, and for the first time in her professional life, without a plan.

She found temp office work, reconnected with old friends and took writing classes. She enrolled in a documentary filmmaking class at the New School, wanting to make a film about her Polish-born, Catholic mother, Klotylda, who was orphaned and imprisoned during World War II and cared for by strangers afterwards. Klotylda wouldn’t agree to be her subject. Haunted by her mother’s experiences, Skinner continued with her research, uncovering more stories of children saved by heroic strangers…

From Jim Wallis at Sojourners: 10 Years After 9/11: The Good and the Bad

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was at home in Washington, D.C. getting ready to go to Sojourners’ office. I was upstairs listening to the news on NPR when I heard the first confusing report of a plane crashing into the south tower of the World Trade Center. I immediately called downstairs to Joy and asked her to turn on the television to see what was going on. Moments later, as we ate breakfast together with our three-year-old son Luke, we watched the second plane strike the north tower. I still remember my first response to Joy, “This is going to be bad, very bad,” I said.

Of course, I meant more than just the damage to the Twin Towers and the lives lost, which became far greater than any of us imagined at first. Rather, my first and deepest concern was what something like this could do to our our nation’s soul. I was afraid of how America would respond to a terrorist attack of this scope.

But as the Towers collapsed, and the suffering of this horrible event became increasingly clear in the hours and days that followed, other parts of the American soul revealed themselves — the heroic responses of the first responders, and a city and nation of people taking care of each other. As ordinary citizens gave their lives for strangers, they became our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. In the days that followed the 9/11 attacks, the stories of pain, loss, and self-sacrifice brought Joy and me to tears several times. The suffering of many led to the service of many more.

For a moment, the world’s last remaining superpower was vulnerable, and we all felt it. In Washington, people fled from downtown D.C., walking and running right past our house, and gathered to pray at places such as Sojourners’ office. Joy helped Luke set up a little water station, as people frantically rushed by our house.

In our sudden sense of vulnerability we were now, and perhaps for the first time, like most of the world, where vulnerability is an accepted part of being human. And in those first days following 9/11, America, not the terrorists, had the high ground. The world did not identify with those who cruelly and murderously decided to take innocent lives in response to their grievances — both real and imagined. Instead, the world identified with a suffering America — even the front cover of the French newspaper Le Monde ran the headline, “We are all Americans now.”

But it was Washington’s response that I was most worried about. Within a short period of time, the official reaction to terrorism would simply be defined as war — a decade of it — resulting in many more innocent casualties than on September 11, 2001. In response to America’s own suffering, many others in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world would now suffer — all in the name of our war on terrorism. The opportunity for deeper understanding, reflection, and redirection would elude us as we sought to erase our vulnerability with the need to demonstrate our superior force and power. This was done quite easily in the early days of both our new wars. But now, we see that the longest series of wars in American history has failed to resolve or reverse the causes of the violence that struck us, or to make us safer. They just made it all worse.

The world expected and would have supported a focused and sustained effort to pursue and bring this small band of criminals to justice. But these last 10 years of manipulated and corrupted intelligence, endless war, practices and policies of torture, secret armies of assassination, global violations of human rights, indiscriminate violence with countless civilian casualties, and trillions of dollars wasted caused America to lose the high ground long ago. The arrogance of American power was our only response to the both the brutality and complexity of terrorism. Perhaps, this arrogance is most recently and brazenly exhibited in former Vice-President Dick Cheney’s new book tour, where he boasts of having absolutely no regrets for any of the momentous decisions he took part in. These are decisions which have made the world an even more divided, polarized, dehumanized, and dangerous place — 10 years after September 11, 2001.

But, fortunately, the official and failed response of Washington to the terrible tragedy of 9/11 has not been the only reponse. A new generation of Christians has asked how Jesus would respond to these same events. Many of them would agree with what Methodist Bishop Will Willimon recently said in the evangelical magazine Christianity Today: “American Christians may look back upon our response to 9/11 as our greatest Christological defeat … when our people felt vulnerable, they reached for the flag instead of the cross.” As many of those who have grown up in the decade since 9/11 confront the conflicts of their world, they are reaching for different things than their government. They are forging alternative responses to issues of injustice and violence, and rejecting the terrorism and war sequence of Washington’s twisted and failed moral logic.

And despite the hateful diatribes of fundamentalist leaders in all our religious traditions, other pastors have decided to love their neighbors, and even their enemies in response to Jesus’ call. Their stories are slowly being told, from American neighborhoods where Muslims have moved in, to conflict areas around the world where faith is being used for bridge building and healing, instead of more revenge killings. Christian leaders are sharing meals, fasting, and prayer with Muslim leaders. Some have defended each other’s congregations and homes in the face of heated threats and rhetoric. While differences between faith traditions are not being glossed over, the nature of a loving and reconciling God is being courageously affirmed across religious lines. In all of this, we are saying that government responses need not define our own…



…and the rest


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