Monday, May 2, 2011
Rejoicing in the Death of Sinners
I'm very reluctant to pass judgment on the people out celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden. A lot of people here in New York suffered very badly at this man's hands, losing family and friends. Almost a third of the FDNY perished on September 11th because of him. They are not sorry he's gone, and neither am I. They are celebrating his death like they celebrated Hitler's death, and why not? Hitler and Bin Laden were monsters cut from the same cloth. Dying was the best thing both men ever did for a world that suffered so much at their hands. People had good cause to rejoice, in 1945 and now.
At the same time, I'm reluctant to pass judgment on my dear Christian friends (they are dear and they are friends) for feeling ambivalence about all of this celebration. They are right. God does not rejoice in the death of sinners. They point out, rightly, the decades of American imperial policy that treated the Middle East as a big dumb gas pump that made someone like Osama Bin Laden possible. Of course, the same could be said about post-Treaty of Versailles Europe, and many vindictive and short sighted policies, that made someone like Hitler possible. And we have not exactly covered ourselves in glory since September 11th.
There is a Midrashic tale about God rebuking the angels for celebrating the deaths of the Egyptians pursuing the Israelites through the Red Sea. He forbade them from singing pointing out that the Egyptians too were His children created in His image.
I am not an angel. I'm celebrating. But then, God was right to rebuke his angels.
A further thought:
I think the thousands upon thousands of bereaved people here in New York, and around the world in places like Morocco, Nairobi, and Bali can take a measure of relief and satisfaction in Osama bin Laden's death without feeling any remorse about it.
Posted by Counterlight at Monday, May 02, 2011