Friday, May 6, 2011


SMinasian: OK my friend. I am having a hard time. As I watch the people celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden there is something in me that wonders if we are all so broken that we can't find any place in us that seeks peace.

I have some friends on Facebook who have a page they like that says thank you to George W. Bush. I decided to click on it and the posts were so mean and hostile against President Obama. I also know that there are Obama supporters who are just as mean and hostile about George W. Bush. I am probably perceived as one of them. And then I catch myself. And I wonder...what is it in us that pushes that button? What happens that causes my head and my heart to have a head on collision. The answer I come up with is that we do not know what to do when we are "caught"!

Smilnor: I know what you mean though in a slightly different way. I have felt like a person divided against herself in the past couple of days. In one part of my mind I see the image of those people diving out of the Twin Tower on that fateful day. My heart breaks, and I think, "No one should get away with that. No egomaniac should be able to put that into motion and be hidden and protected." Then I see people cheering and waving flags and hear of some woman sucked into Bin Laden's life and into the line of fire, and I wonder exactly what we have to celebrate. We should be mourning -- not the death of a mad man, but the death of reason and personal independence; we should be lamenting the human need to turn to extreme ideas and people to save us.

SMinasian: I am weeping inside because I confess my own anger toward Bin Laden. I am weeping inside because I am glad he was killed. I am weeping inside because as a person of faith and as a Christian specifically I want and believe in a justice that is without violence. But I confess constantly because I know that my pain and wounds like (on some level) the retribution. If I prayed more, if I was really a holy woman...could I...would I feel this way?

Smilnor: That I can answer, Susan. Yes you would. Yes you are. Because no human being is holy without also being profane. No one reaches moments of insight and compassion without also slugging through temptation and need. My theological tradition says that the holy is found in the common, and God knows the common can be both beautiful and ugly, joyous and sad, measured and passionate. We can only expect of ourselves to ask the questions and try to answer them with the greatest awareness and integrity we can manage. We are weeping, and our tears are the waters that cleanse us.

SMinasian: I look to scripture. I see all the scripture verses folks are posting on Facebook and I end up at the shortest: John 11:35..."Jesus wept."

You know Easter Sunday fell on Armenian Martyrs Day this year. I sat through the whole service filled with the joy of resurrection and transformation. Our daughter was confirmed into the church. Our family made the trip from Richmond, Virginia. A woman who has been like a grandmother to Anna was also with us.

Before I went into the sanctuary I stopped at the prayer request sheet. There is a sheet at each entrance to the sanctuary. There are some pre-printed items and then it is left there so that people can add prayer requests before the service begins. That list is then used for prayer on Wednesday mornings at an early morning prayer service.

Anyway…I thought...should I do it? Nobody else will. So I wrote: We pray for all the people who mourn the loss of family in the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian Genocide was not on the pre-printed list. I didn't expect it to be.

With all of the pain that experience (the Genocide) has brought to my people and to my family, I do not want revenge. But when I run into people and especially friends who don't even talk about it or mention it, I get upset. I know they want me to shut up and stop talking about wanting justice. What I'm saying is: I know what it is like to want people to pay for what they did. While the Turkish government continues to deny the Genocide and oppress Armenians, Osama Bin Laden admitted what he did. He took "credit" for it...which sounds sick on one level. But he didn't deny it. These are two wrongs. I want restorative justice. Not vengeance.

SMilnor: Of course you want restorative justice for your people. And to give us the benefit of the doubt, I believe that's what Americans around this country have felt for ten years. I don't know whether we always get what we seek, though. What is restorative? That's the question. And I don't really know the answer. But I know that on some level, people's sense of justice is restored if they can believe that the wealthy and powerful and privileged are accountable for their decisions and, yes, for their humanity or lack of it just as the rest of us are. It is interesting to think where Dante would place Bin Laden in his INFERNO.

SMinasian: Bin Laden was a sick man. He did evil things. AND I think God puts a mirror in front of me and reminds me I am no different. If sin is sin, and there is no hierarchy in sin, then, well...we are all fallen. I believe in a God of transformation. So it is my hope, and it is my prayer, that if there is a "maker" whom we come face to face with upon our death, then in seeing that holy one...maybe...just maybe the love Osama will experience will be transforming and the Osama we knew will be dead indeed.

Smilnor: It's a good prayer, Susan. Here I am, a Universalist talking about the inferno. Perhaps I should be focused instead on purgatory or even paradise, where all hatred and, if you will, sin, falls away.

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