“O Lord, Make the Evil Be Good” A Christian Response To Terrorism

Introduction

This discussion guide is for youth (middle school and high school), young adults, and families to discuss and reflect on the Orthodox Christian response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in the United States. It was developed with the assistance of committed Orthodox clergy and laity from throughout the Orthodox Church in America who understand the importance for all people to discuss these terrible events in the light of Christ and His Church so that our Heavenly Father may make something good of these terrible events.

In this guide:

Using this Guide

Useful Texts

Typical Questions

Questions for Discussion/Reflection

 

Using this Guide

This guide can be used in a variety of ways.

  • The facilitator/teacher can read the Useful Texts and Typical Questions and use this knowledge as a foundation for leading the group through an open discussion, focused perhaps by the Discussion Questions.
  • The facilitator can hand out the scriptures and the questions with answers and have people read and respond to them.
  • The facilitator can make copies of and cut up the Useful Texts and the questions, putting them into two piles, instructing people to pick a question and find all the relevant texts to the question, and then discuss why they chose those texts for that question. This can be done either individually or in groups.
  • On a large surface the facilitator can make two columns, one with questions and the other with texts, and participants can find which texts are relevant to which questions.
  • The Typical Questions should be given to parents so that discussion can continue at home.
  • Parishes may wish to make copies and put this in the narthex on the table with other informative literature on the Orthodox Christian Faith, and/or include it in their parish bulletin.

A Note on Younger Children

While this guide is designed for youth and young adults, people speaking with younger children can also benefit from reading this guide as they try to discern for themselves what Christ’s Church has to say to us about these terrible events. Key elements to include in any discussion with younger children should be:

“The President and the whole country are doing everything possible to keep us safe”; “Praying to God and our Saints helps make things better”; “God is still with us, let’s pray to our guardian angel who God has given us to watch over us”; “We need to pray to God for help to know what is the right thing to do”; “Let’s pray for all the people who are suffering because of this”; “Let’s pray for the people who did this since they must have an immense amount of anger and hurt built up inside”; and “Would you like to do something to help the people hurt by all this?”.

There are a number of different projects younger children can do to help people in this disaster. They can make a card and send it to the rescue workers, the Red Cross, or even the White House. They can help you gather together food and clothing to send to the Salvation Army to help the people who are homeless because of the disaster. They can help you put up your American Flag to help people feel connected.

Some guidelines when discussing this issue:

  • It might seem an unnecessary reminder, but be sure to begin your discussion with the prayer “O Heavenly King.”
  • Be prepared for people to react in what seems to be inappropriate ways. Much like people having giggles at a funeral, people may react to feelings of fear and sadness in odd ways. Be patient and understanding.
  • Allow people to voice their fears and anger. This is an appropriate response, and people need a supportive place to express those emotions.
  • Be prepared for strong emotions and, if necessary, stop conversation for a couple minutes so people can calm down and regain their composure.
  • Before beginning the discussion, try to become as informed as possible about the facts of the situation. Rumors spread very quickly and may arise during your discussion. If possible, identify rumors as rumors and urge people to focus on the facts.
  • Don’t try to go through the entire guide in an hour. It may take two or three sessions to go through all the issues involved.


Useful Texts

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God will help her right early. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters His voice, the earth melts. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Come, behold the works of the LORD, how He has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear, He burns the chariots with fire! "Be still, and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth!" The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Psalm 56

Be gracious to me, O God, for men trample upon me; all day long foemen oppress me;  my enemies trample upon me all day long, for many fight against me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in Thee. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me? All day long they seek to injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil. They band themselves together, they lurk, they watch my steps. As they have waited for my life, so recompense them for their crime; in wrath cast down the peoples, O God! Thou hast kept count of my tossings; put Thou my tears in Thy bottle! Are they not in thy book? Then my enemies will be turned back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can man do to me? My vows to Thee I must perform, O God; I will render thank offerings to Thee. For Thou hast delivered my soul from death, yea, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

Psalm 142

I cry with my voice to the LORD, with my voice I make supplication to the LORD, I pour out my complaint before Him, I tell my trouble before Him. When my spirit is faint, Thou knowest my way! In the path where I walk they have hidden a trap for me. I look to the right and watch, but there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me, no man cares for me. I cry to Thee, O LORD; I say, Thou art my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Give heed to my cry; for I am brought very low! Deliver me from my persecutors; for they are too strong for me! Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to Thy name! The righteous will surround me; for Thou wilt deal bountifully with me.

John 2:13-16

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple He found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. And making a whip of cords, He drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And He told those who sold the pigeons, "Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade."

Mark 11: 15-17

And they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons; and He would not allow any one to carry anything through the temple. And He taught, and said to them, "Is it not written, `My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers."

Luke 6:27-36

Words of our Lord Jesus Christ

But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Luke 12:4-7

Words of our Lord Jesus Christ

I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Romans 8: 18-28

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

Hebrews 11:32-34 and 12:1-2

11: 32-34

For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Ephesians 4: 22-32

Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away falsehood let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

I Thessalonians 4:13-18

But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

James 4

What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Unfaithful creatures! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is in vain that the scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? But He gives more grace; therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you. Do not speak evil against one another, brethren. He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge, He Who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that you judge your neighbor? Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain"; whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that." As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Hymns for the Cross    

TROPARION in Tone 1

O Lord,  save Your people,
And bless Your inheritance.
Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians
Over their adversaries.
And by virtue of Your Cross,
Preserve Your habitation.

KONTAKION in Tone 4

As You were voluntarily crucified for our sake,
Grant mercy to those who are called by Your Name;
Make all Orthodox Christians glad by Your power,
Granting them victories over their adversaries,
By bestowing on them the invincible trophy, Your weapon of Peace.

A Soldier’s Prayer

We thank Thee, O Lord our God for all the blessings that Thou givest unto us. Thou hast kept us by Thy power in good health during the night, and Thou has called us up from sleep, that we may enjoy the light of day and to marvel at Thy majesty. We entreat Thee, O Lord, grant that we may live this day without danger or sin, but full of Thy mercies and Thy divine care. Protect my family and the families of my fellow soldiers from all evil. Enlighten the peoples who conquer and torture other nations; make them repent and seek peace, leaving other lands and their dwellers free. Open Thou the eyes of our mind to see Thy divine law and incline our hearts ever to do Thy commandments, to the glory of Thine all-holy Name; of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O Thou Loving Father of us all, Who art here and everywhere, let Thy blessing be upon my loved ones at home. Keep them in Thy gracious care, protect them by Thy power and make their hearts glad in the thought of Thy nearness. Help them and help me to feel that however separated we are by distance, in Thee we are close to each other. Amen

From the Holy Synod’s Letter about the Tragedy

Pray for those who perpetrated today’s evils, asking the Lord to “make the evil be good” by His Goodness, as we pray in the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great.

On behalf of the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, I appeal to the faithful of our Church and to all North Americans to turn to God at this moment, to reach out to those who are forever scarred by the tragedies of this day, to strive all the more fervently to see within all whom we encounter the living and loving image of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and to pray with renewed fervor and intensity “for the peace of the whole world” – for the peace that “passes all understanding,” for which our world today so desperately hopes and seeks.


Typical Questions
The questions below are some, which people are asking in response to the terrible events of September 11, 2001. We have included responses to these questions.

1. Why would God let this happen? One of the greatest gifts God has given us as creatures made in His image (Genesis 1:26) is the ability of free will: to choose good over evil. However, at some point each and every day we usually end up choosing evil over good. When we lie, cheat, steal or harm others (do evil), God does not interfere with our abuses of the freedom He has given us. God has given us the ability to choose between what is of Him, and therefore good, and what is not of Him, and therefore evil.  Evil is real. Suffering is real. Death is real. They are all part of the world we live in. We don't live in the kingdom of heaven. We live in a world in which evil, sin, and death are a regular part.

If we think about it, countless sins have happened in human history without God stopping those who were responsible. No one knows how many of the people living in North America (native Americans) were killed after the European settlers arrived: whole tribes were completely destroyed. In the last century, millions of people (both Jews and Christians) were killed in Soviet and German concentration and execution camps. There is not a day in the year, which is not the anniversary of the death of many martyrs. Though sin, evil and death are real, this is not the end of the story. God is real. God is still dealing with this earth (not some other perfect world, but this sinful world, which God amazingly still loves!) Christ died on the Cross, destroyed death, and rose again. Christ is coming again! There will be a time when there is no sickness, or suffering, but life everlasting. Ultimately evil will not triumph. In fact, because of Christ, it has no more power than we allow it to have. Unfortunately, however, evil can still inflict serious wounds and pain on us. Maybe these events will remind us that we NEED God, that God is directly available to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, and that we need to align our lives with Him and not with money, power, or even political agendas.

2. Am I safe? Could this happen again, even where I am? Thanks to airplanes and satellites, the world has grown steadily smaller. Huge oceans that once provided the US a degree of security are today no longer the protective barriers they used to be. To those who see America as their main enemy, attack is by no means impossible and hasn’t been for a while. As we have just seen in New York and Washington, even the strongest military and the largest spy networks cannot guarantee a nation is completely safe from harm. But the problem isn't new. No one has ever lived in a safe world, a world without enemies or tragedies. Those of us who are Christian recall that Christ lived in a country under military occupation in which crucifixion  - one of the most terrible methods of death and torture ever invented - was not a rare punishment.

Reports of terrorist attacks have been in the news in countries throughout the world for decades. Up until recently we have been extremely fortunate. We have the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world focusing all its resources on working to insure our personal safety from attacks such as these. While we may not be able to say that we are 100% safe, we are able to say that we live in one of the safest places, if not THE safest place in the world.

Remember, what God gives us is not protection from harm, but a way of living -- and also a way of dying, when that time comes. The question for us is: How do I live a Christian life in the face of danger, not how do I live without danger.

3. I HATE the people who did this! They all should be rounded up and destroyed.

The terrorists will have won if they make us a hate-driven, vengeful people, or a people who have become prisoners of fear. That would be a bigger victory for them than any destroyed buildings or murdered people. As Christians, Jesus is very firm in telling us that we are to love and forgive our enemies. It is in the face of events such as these that such words are the hardest to hear, but they are the words God, Himself, has told us to live by.

The love of Christ, however, is not a romantic or passive thing, as it is often perceived. St Paul writes in his letter to the people in Ephesus to “be angry, but do not sin” (Ephesians 4). Christ, Himself, showed anger many times during His ministry in order to make people aware of the sinful nature of their actions. Sometimes this anger even became violent, such as when He drove the money-changers from the temple (John 2 and Mark 11), when, as St John describes,  “making a whip of cords, He drove them all, with the sheep and the oxen out of the temple…poured out the coins...and overturned their tables.”

Anger is normal and can be blessed. It is to be acknowledged and its energy directed toward making any given situation better. However, if it is nurtured, allowed to fester, or flow based upon passions such as vengeance, hatred, and pride, it pollutes our souls and makes us no better than the person who has wronged us.

4. Should Christians want the U.S. to retaliate?

As fellow neighbors on this planet, it is our responsibility to do all we can to teach that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated. It is upon this fact that we need to react toward those who have perpetrated these events.  Love for enemies (see Luke 6 above) does not rule out allowing the civil authority to exercise its God-given role to curb wickedness and to protect the innocent.  The Church’s saints and hymns are full of references to asking God to save them/us from enemies both physical and spiritual (See Hymns for the Cross, A Soldier’s Prayer).

While non-resistance and passion-bearing is appropriate for individuals, it is inappropriate for the civil authority not to defend its citizens from future or greater evil. The Church sees this as a God-given responsibility of civil authorities. As Orthodox Christians in America, it is our responsibility as citizens to urge our authorities to defend and protect us in a way that does NOT imitate or increase the evil of September 11, 2001. We need to speak against words like “annihilation,” “retribution,” or even “retaliation.” Rather, our goal must be to act appropriately to stop acts of terrorism such as these.

It is good for all of us to feel the tension between these two aspects. This tension exists because we live in a fallen world and is a reminder that we are not yet in paradise.

5. Responding to Hate

Bottom line – The Christian teaching to love one's enemies is not merely a sentiment, but is an internal commitment that leads to deeds and actions. Our first reactions to incidents such as these are usually fear and anger, especially when viewing the news footage of people and children in the streets, both overseas and even in the U.S., waving flags and shouting "Allah akbar" ("Allah is most great"). There is a great temptation to respond with equal or even greater hatred.

The teaching of our Lord is very clear and simple in these matters. If we are to call ourselves Christians, we are to forgive those who hate us. We are to break the cycle of hatred by responding with love. St Paul describes this love in his letter to the Corinthians as patient, seeking not its own, not resentful, not rejoicing in wrong, and bearing all things.  We are to seek to do what will end the hatred instead of perpetuating or even escalating it.  Out of love, we are to put aside the pain inflicted on us, in order to do what we can to help open the heart of the person hurting us and eliminate the possibility of others being hurt.

A few facts for those who are quick to categorize all Arabic people:

  • In the official teachings of Islam suicide (all suicide) is condemned and a guaranteed path to the “burning fires.” Any sect of Islam that teaches otherwise is not following the Koran.
  • The word Jihad is an Arabic word, the root of which is Jahada, which means to strive for a better way of life. The nouns are Juhd, Mujahid, Jihad, and Ijtihad. The other meanings are: endeavor, strain, exertion, effort, diligence, fighting to defend one's life, land, and religion. Anyone using it in terms of a “Holy War” is distorting its meaning
  • Even in times of war, Muslims are not allowed to kill anybody save the one who is engaged in face-to-face confrontation with them. They are not allowed to kill women, old persons, children, or even a monk in his religious seclusion.
  • To say radical terrorists quoting the Koran represent Islam is like saying members of the Ku Klux Klan represent Christianity. Anyone can (and many people do) isolate, quote, and distort sayings from holy writings whether they be Judaic, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, etc..
  • People of the Middle East are not only Muslims. Many adhere to various faiths, including Christianity. In this area of the world there are about 12-14 million Christians who are members of the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Moreover, the Arab Muslims are a small minority in the Muslim world population. Also, the term Arab is not ethnic, but cultural and linguistic, since the Arabs are effectively a mixture of many nations and races.

6. How am I supposed to respond to this tragedy?

The primary and prayerful Orthodox response to any tragedy and violence is personal repentance –never a call for vengeance. The word repentance (metanoia) means to change the direction of our attitudes and actions toward God. It implies a 180-degree turn since, if we are honest with ourselves, our attitudes and actions are usually focused in the exact opposite direction.

 

To repent and turn toward God means that we are to align ourselves with Him and to acknowledge and pray for forgiveness for the many things we have done in opposition to what He has shown us to be healthy and life-giving. When we truly repent  - truly change the direction of our life – then we are open to God working in our life, realize what it is we actually need, and can cry to Him in faith and humility (James 4).

To repent also means to reconnect ourselves to our neighbor. Remember, Christ tells us all people – even our enemies - are our neighbors (Luke 10:29-37). This means we need to act more as Christians personally and corporately as a nation. We, as the Church in this land, need to show that our Faith is not something we say we believe, but is at the core of who we are and what we do. Even in the face of such anger and hate, we respond with love – the kind of love a father or mother has for his or her children when they do something that harms other people.

Our response must be one of faith, hope and love:

  • Faith in God that He is here with us and holds us in the very palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16).
  • Hope that the world is not lost and that through God all things are possible.
  • Love, which leads us to pray and reach out to those in pain and suffering, including our enemies.

7. What can I do?

Though the majority of the news is about several people involved in intense evil, there are also hundreds of stories about good, heroic people sacrificing their lives for others. This is what the Church calls kenotic (self-emptying, self- sacrificing) love: people helping people; people showing love for others. These are important stories in a world in which hatred and death are manifest. The world is also full of love, kindness, self-sacrifice, generosity and charity. God is showing us that today there are still plenty of examples of loving Christian behavior even in the face of evil.

  • Have faith that God is still there. Remember that.
  • Grow closer to God through Jesus Christ yourself. St Herman was so close to God that, through his prayers, a huge tsunami stopped before it destroyed Spruce Island.
  • Pray for all the people involved: the victims, our country, our world, and yes, even our enemies - that they will open their hearts and turn to God.
  • Find ways to help out through activities like clothing and food drives for victims, fundraisers to send money for our Orthodox Church in America’s Emergency Relief Appeal (http://oca.org/pages/ocaadmin/documents/Official/NYCTrag/EmerAppeal.html) or to the Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org). If you are old enough you may wish to give blood.
Questions for Discussion/Reflection:

Start by asking “What have people heard about the terrorist attacks on Tuesday September 11, 2001?.” Clarify facts as much as possible and allow for open discussion and sharing of feelings.

  • These attacks have been labeled as evil. What does that mean? How do we fight evil? Why can’t evil be completely defeated with guns, tanks, missiles, and other weapons? Why do you think we call the Cross God’s “weapon of peace” (see Hymns of the Cross)?
  • We have never experienced this kind of war/attack on our own turf before... at least not in our generation. How do you suppose people in the Middle East deal with living under the fear of attack all the time? How do you think it has affected them spiritually? (How do you think it has affected their belief in and perception of God?)
  • How do we deal with the anger and fear that we are feeling because of the attacks? Is there a better way to deal with these feelings?
  • Think about how easy it is to become paranoid after something like this. What are some of the things we can do to remain calm?  What are some things for us to remember in the face of crisis? In some towns on Tuesday, people were lined up for miles to get gas thinking that there would be none the next day.  They were wrong.  Gas prices didn't even go up.
  • What do you think causes people to become terrorists, hijack airplanes, and kill thousands of people?
  • Could it be dangerous to watch the news constantly concerning the terrorist invasion? Do you feel that we need to protect ourselves from the dangers and influences of the media coverage?
  • Why do you think people become more interested in God after a terrible tragedy?
  • The Bible and the Church’s prayers are full of references to the fact that God is on the side of the righteous. Is America righteous? Should we assume that God will “fight” for us? How does this relate to how we should respond to these terrible events?
  • What good things have you seen come from tragedy, either in your life or someone else’s?  Maybe a young person has died and, as a result, a family member or friend came to believe in God.  Or maybe an unsaved friend was paralyzed in an accident, but is now living as a joyful Christian in a wheelchair.  What good have you seen come from the recent terrorist tragedy?
  • Whether we live in NY, Washington, or even if we’re hundreds of miles from the scene of this terrorist attack, we may be afraid it will happen to us.  How can God help us with our fear? 
  • What actions could we take that would help some good come out of this evil? What actions would actually add to the evil?
  • What role do you think God wants us to play in all of this, both as Orthodox Christians and as Americans?