In Where Was God on Sept. 11? Seeds of Faith and Hope, editors Donald B. Kraybill and Linda Gehman Peachey have compiled short essays, articles, sermons, interviews and letters reflecting on the tragic events of Sept. 11 from a Christian perspective.
The essays in the book are loosely divided into seven sections and deal with topics including revenge and heavenly citizenship. The first section of essays, “God Amid the Terror,” explores God’s presence amid the terror and suffering of Sept. 11. The other six sections address related issues.
Particularly helpful topics include Christianity and Islam, patriotism, retaliation and peacemaking. Even if the reader does not agree fully with the opinion presented by the author of a selection, he or she will gain understanding through its thoughtful biblical and social reflection.
While the majority of the articles are written from a Mennonite perspective, works from authors of several religious traditions are included. The editors acknowledge that not all of the selections in the book express the same point of view on issues related to Sept. 11; readers are allowed to thoughtfully consider each essay and the theological insight it offers.
A unique section of the book deals with the response of the global Christian community to the events of Sept. 11. Students, missionaries and church leaders from several different countries offer their words of comfort and wisdom to Christians in the United States. The encouragement of these men and women who often face trouble and suffering in their own countries is an important and stirring part of this section.
Most of the essays in this book are short, many between two and four pages long. Several of them are condensed versions of articles found elsewhere. Because of their length, the majority of the selections work well as meditations or devotional thoughts concerning suffering, peace and God’s provision. Several of the essays contain short, memorable phrases or illustrations that could be quoted effectively in sermons, newsletters or other formats.
Students, laypeople and congregational leaders would all benefit from reading Where Was God on Sept. 11? The issues discussed in the book are relevant to all our lives, and the authors present meaningful ideas without using dense, theological jargon. Every reader should find cause for further reflection upon at least a few selections, if not the entire book.
Melody Maxwell is a graduate student at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala.