Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” _Gospel of John 20: 19-31, read at Mass, May 1, 2011
Some of you have received word of the death of Usama/Osama bin Laden with a jaw-dropping degree of skepticism. The level of non-belief, cynicism and government distrust makes me wonder if some are descended directly from Didymus/Thomas. We heard all about it at Mass over the weekend and I have to wonder if it's a conspiracy...not.
When I heard bin Laden was dead, it was early Monday morning. Struggling to catch up with some other tasks, I turned off the television Sunday night without finding out what baseball fans and network news anchors knew.
Upon hearing the account of helicopters, Navy Seals, gunfire and a burial at sea, my first thoughts were of amazement that such an intricate operation had gone down with little attention or fanfare. The long hunt was over and bin Laden himself was no longer a threat.
Then, I thought of our friend Jim, who had been murdered by bin Laden. No, bin Laden didn’t climb the steps to the 104th floor of the World Trade Center and into the offices of Cantor Fitzgerald personally, but his henchman did the dirty work. More on them later.
Jim Walsh was a normal guy, a New York Giants/Mets fan who had a great sense of humor and an eternal twinkle in his eye. He contemplated staying home on Sept. 11 because it was his daughter’s birthday, but he instead went to work, where bin Laden killed him. And, bin Laden didn’t stop there. He killed other innocents at the World Trade Center, Shanksville and the Pentagon.
Jim Walsh’s death stunned and upset our family and the families of those who knew him from his days on the campus of King’s College. There was the frantic search for news of his whereabouts, then the almost 10-year silence that followed. There was a funeral in a church in New Jersey, where the remains of Jim Walsh were conspicuously absent. When Osama bin Laden went into the sea after his death, at least there was a sense of finality to it.
Then, my sorrow turned to anger yesterday, like some Kubler-Ross model gone awry. People called talk radio and a handful of them said they just didn’t believe it. Where was the photo? Why the burial at sea? Why now?
While those questions seem legitimate to some, they tarnished a day when many of us in our own way were feeling the raw emotions that Sept. 11 brings at the end of every summer. Then, there was the inevitable shouting over Building Seven and the conspiracy that appears on the internet and on alternative websites. Some even see the image of Satan in the fires of the burning Towers. It’s on the internet in case you care to see it, with a little marker pointing toward the devil’s face so you can’t miss it.
The only salvation of my distressed mood was a discussion I had at school with a political science professor, who said most of his discussions with students were about the event and not about hair-trigger theories and baseless paranoia. At least that made me think the whole world hadn’t tipped off its axis.
While some people distrust our own government, where is their anger at the charlatan bin Laden? His history of bringing pain to American people didn’t begin on Sept. 11; that was just his crowning achievement in his own warped mind. Funding massacres that killed innocent civilians were nothing new to him. He had declared that killing Americans and other non-Muslims was the duty of his followers. While preaching his all or nothing attitude and asking believers to sacrifice everything, it appears bin Laden had been living in a McMansion in the shadow of a Pakistani military academy. He wasn’t roughing it in caves and eating locusts washed down with honey. He had his surrogates buying American colas at the local grocery store and living with about 10 others behind reinforced walls of a swanky compound. He slept in a bed and apparently had at least one wife and the company of children and grandchildren.
If people want to talk about who is a liar, why won’t they point the finger at Osama bin Laden? Instead, they trot out the usual suspects, typically Americans named Bush and Cheney. If George Bush was the stupidest president ever to take in oxygen, how did he and his stooges manage this conspiracy that not only framed the noble bin Laden, but was kept secret by the gang that couldn’t shoot straight?
The other outcome that worries me is this zealous hue and cry for photo evidence of the face of death. For those who need to feed their id with controversy, do they realize that such photos may incite violence around the world by those who are itching for a fight and looking for trouble? As someone astutely pointed out today, "They wouldn't allow a shrine, and now they're offering a relic." That sounds about right.