Monday, 27 November 2006

New Pearl Harbour?

David Ray Griffin, recently retired from a chair (in the Philosophy of Religion) he held for 30 years at Claremont College, California, has written several books about the events surrounding 9/11.

Back in August I read the second edition of The New Pearl Harbour: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11, and it was one of the most thrilling books I have ever opened. Please nip down to your local library and get a copy. Once you start, you won't be able to put it down.

The debates about 9/11, what actually happened, government complicity and cover-ups have raged ever since the murders took place. But they have not raged in the mainstream media in the US - and there has been remarkably little public interest in the UK, despite the reception Griffin received in the summer when he visited London. It's on the internet that much of the debate has been taking place. There are many websites devoted to 9/11, many feature a lot of shouting, and many seem rather silly.

But Griffin's book is different, and his credibility as a leading academic, should cause those of us who might sneer at 'conspiracy theories' to pause before dismissing those who doubt the official version of events (which is itself a conspiracy theory!) The tone of his writing commends itself: look at how he responds here to criticisms of The New Pearl Harbour. You might say, 'Of course, you're the type of person who is going to be impressed by a professor - and that's no different to people without much education or exposure to critical reflection who might be taken in by this or that sensationalist DVD about 9/11'. To which I would reply, read the book. Try some critical reflection.

It should come as no surprise to Christians to hear that governments are complicit in major acts of violence and in obstructing justice. It doesn't take long to think of some pretty bad governments from the 20th century. Why should we trust the US government as our default position? Speaking theologically, the nations rage against the Lord and against his annointed one: human governments are far from perfect, far from what people really need. The modern nation state, no less than the Roman Empire, is fundamentally idolatrous insofar as it claims to be able to look after its citizens, fully meet their needs, represent them, and provide the conditions for their flourishing.

Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from there we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20-21)

Which is by no means a manifesto for escapism, but for building the only community that really will last - the body of Christ, the church.