May 3rd, 2011
04:03 PM ET
My Take: Bin Laden died long ago
Editor's Note: The Rev. David Lewicki is co-pastor of North Decatur Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia. He is a graduate of Yale University and Union Theological Seminary and was ordained in 2005 by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
By the Rev. David Lewicki, Special to CNN
On Sunday night I watched the news as it crescendoed around the president’s speech declaring the death of Osama bin Laden. The talking heads worked capably with what few details they had. On the split screen, familiar spliced video footage replayed what little most of us know — or care to know — about bin Laden: wearing a turban, sitting drinking tea, a long salt and pepper beard, speaking to friends, crouching holding a machine gun, skyscrapers smoking.
Twitter gave a way to take the public temperature. Some passed information without editorial: “Bin Laden is dead!” Others tried to score political points: “took O 2 years to do what B couldn’t do in 7,” or “THAT’S a ‘mission accomplished.’” Reports said impromptu crowds gathered in front of the White House and at Ground Zero exuberantly chanting “USA! USA!,” singing our anthem. Others retorted that they would not celebrate any person’s death, no matter who it was. Still others retrieved unsettling data about what it has cost us to find and kill bin Laden, in dollars and human lives.
Finally, from those with an intimate connection to the innocents of 9/11, there were tweets about tears. Tears of relief? Tears because the news dragged them back to the still-tender memories of a decade ago? Yes and yes. I was a first-year theology student in New York City on that day in 2001; I know the tears.
All of these responses are authentic for a Christian who lives in America. Bin Laden has had more influence in the last decade over the way we live our lives than any other person. He was a wedge in our politics, he disrupted our ability to come and go freely; he triggered a vast global security and surveillance apparatus. He was directly or indirectly the focus of two wars that affected the material well-being and peace of mind of millions here and across the world.
He desecrated Islam and radicalized Christianity, making some Christians more enthusiastic about military action than they might have been otherwise, while making others more enthusiastic about trying to find peaceful solutions to global problems.
He robbed people of mothers and fathers, took away their children. He made a whole nation feel vulnerable and fearful of unpredictable catastrophic violence.
One thing we might do well today is give permission to each other to feel all of the things that we might be feeling. There is no one manner by which to respond to this man’s death, because his life impacted all of us, sometimes in radically divergent ways.
Beyond our feelings, Christians might also spend time considering our Lord’s call to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. This is not easy. If we call ourselves Americans as well as Christians, we may feel a strong civic sense that what our government did in our name was the embodiment of public justice.
But our political identity and our identity as followers of Jesus are rarely reconcilable. Jesus did not meet enemies with violence. He asserted that the way to loose ourselves of our enemies was, counter-intuitively, by loving them and forgiving them — by wanting God’s best for them and believing in the Holy Spirit’s power to convert any person to faithful obedience. Jesus implied that if the Spirit does not convert them to goodness in this life, any judgment of their deeds is to be left in the hands of their creator — God alone. Our job is to never cease praying that they receive God’s blessing.
I have been praying for Osama bin Laden for 10 years. I was not surprised by news of his death. As I asked myself why, I suspect it is because, in my eyes, bin Laden died long ago. He died to goodness; he died to mercy; he died to peace. He died to the things that God cares most about. He was alive until this week — but he died to life a long time ago.
I have wondered over the years what God tried to do to win him back to love. I wonder about the confounding ability of human beings to resist the love of God. I wonder about these things for Osama bin Laden and I wonder about same things with respect to my own life. Today, as I have many days before, I pray for my enemy — I pray him into the hands of the God of justice and of mercy.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the Rev. David Lewicki. This post first appeared on the Fund for Theological Education website.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
I like this article because it really was something that I thought about. why should we be celebrating someone's death? I know the man did terrible things and ruined familes and lives, but it still doesn't seem right to me. He probably deserved to die, but why did we celebrate it?However i dont know if I believe that he died long ago because I belive that the time he was alive he still had the chance to change his life. Everyone has a chance to ask for forgiveness, even Bin Laden, so I dont think he "died" intil he was executed.
The day BIN LADEN DIED was the day he met his MAKER
SATAN: When he KILLED over 3,000 INNOCENT PEOPLE
N NEW YORK on 9-11-01: I know 4 a FACT he isn't going
2 HEAVEN NO MURDERER'S do: The only VIRGIN BIN
LADEN will get will B N his DREAMS: Thanks again Brent
I'm sorry but i have to disagree with you. Murderers can still go to heaven. All sin is measured the same. Lying is just as bad as muder in God's eyes. We ask for forgiveness when we lie, so why can't a murderer? If that person truly forgives themselves and askes God for forgiveness, and has already accepted Jesus into their heart they can still go to heaven.
yall all crazy
Tim Osman was just an myth,.
DICTATOR OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION....LEARN WHO, HOW, AND WHY RUINED YOU…FROM 911 TO WHITE AMERICAN REFUGEES IN EXILE SEEKING ASYLUM RIGHT NOW http://avsecbostjan.wordpress.com/ or http://avsecbostjan.blogspot.com WHO/WHY//HOW CREATED SCHOOL SHOOTINGS(Arizona incl.) – HAARP AUSTRALIAN FLOODS(Incl. deliberately busted oil pipe in gulf of Mexico) – LEARN ABOUT REAL HUMAN FLASH EATING MACHINE – WIKILEAKS is CIA – BREAST FEEDING INSANITY PROTESTS – FACEBOOK or CIABOOTH !!? - ESKIMO SARAH PALIN'S "BRIDGE TO NOWHERE" – NWO MULTICULTURALISM SWINE/PIG FLUE SYNDROME – NEWS/MEDIA OR SIMPLY BIG FAT VACUUM WORLD OF LIES !!?? – THE REAL DON'T ASK DON'T TELL, BUT DIE !!! – OBAMINATOR'S FREE HEALTH CARE PLANE or GENOCIDE BASED ON FORGIVE AND FORGET – UN-chef Ban Ki-moon or CHINESE BAN KEY MONKEY(who is he in reality) !!? – NEW WORLD ORDER POLITICAL PARTIES(not there for you, but instead to seal your faith for their own parliament pay$$ scale !!!) EURO DIC TRAITORS vs DICTATORS or what is worse !!? LEARN WHAT DO LIBYA AND EUROPE OR USA HAVE IN-COMMON !! AND FINALLY.....COMMUNISM IN EASTERN EUROPE TODAY IN 2011 !!! "SLOVENIA" TODAY, WHERE COMMUNIST GENOCIDE GOES ON 24/7 FOR CREATION OF GREATER BYZANTINE SERBIA UNDER RUSSIAN FLAG http://sloveniatoday.blogspot.com "SLOVENIA" WHERE GERMANS(also Croatians in Croatia) ARE GETTING WIPED OUT 66 YEARS AFTER WWII OR 20 YEARS SINCE THEIR "INDEPENDENCE"(independence on paper only). Is Merkel truly great diplomat or is simply trading our lives behind our backs with worst enemies(LIBERALISM = RETARDISM = COMMUNISM = IDIOTISM = CRIME = ZIONISM) !!?
Dogs = Cats. Black = White. Its raining candy corn in November. Why are the pretty ones always crazy? Get a life and a clue.
COMMUNISM IN EASTERN EUROPE TODAY(2011) !!! http://sloveniatoday.blogspot.com or http://easterneuropetoday.wordpress.com/ OR COMMUNIST GENOCIDE IN "SLOVENIA" WHERE GERMANS(also Croatians in Croatia) ARE GETTING WIPED OUT TODAY IN 2011 UNDER RUSSIAN FLAG AND GREATER BYZANTINE SERBIAN(new Yugoslavia) AGENDA 66 YEARS AFTER WWII OR 20 YEARS SINCE THEIR "INDEPENDENCE"(independence on paper only) JUST AS PREVIOUSLY IN VOJVODINA. Is Merkel truly great diplomat or is simply trading our lives behind our backs with worst enemies(LIBERALISM = RETARDISM = COMMUNISM = IDIOTISM = ZIONISM = CRIME) !!? Visit also DICTATOR OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION http://avsecbostjan.blogspot.com/ or http://avsecbostjan.wordpress.com/ ...TO LEARN WHO, HOW, AND WHY RUINED YOU…FROM 911 TO WHITE AMERICAN REFUGEES IN EXILE SEEKING ASYLUM RIGHT NOW !!! TIME TO DETERMINE WHOSE INDEPENDENCE/AMERICA, WE CELEBRATE TODAY(who want to erase us and denies us the right to exist) !!!
Pastor Lewicki went to Yale...nuff said.
Yale is the hub for societal members that formulate thesis versus anti-thesis to create synthesis. DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE! Know who the real enemy is. He is the father of lies and has been since the day he was cast down to earth.
I believe Bin Laden is not dead.( no proof) taken somewhere- very secret – not dumped in the ocean.. Everyone in the house where he was at was killed ( no witness) . Bin Laden has alot of info he can give this goverment.. Dead, we will know very little about the many terrorist groups and what's going to happen . Logic ..He is alive.. .
good points, but i still think hes dead
bin laden will never be dead!!
It isn't about seeing a groosome dead body. It is more about proving (A.) If Bin Laden is indeed dead. (B.) When Bin laden died. (C.) How Bin Laden died....... 'Seeing' i these things is the only thing that will bring 'trust' back to our country and our Leaders. We are sick and tired of lies and there has been enough lies that America has been caught up in that it is super Important for the people of the world to know these 3 things by allowing us our RIGHT to see....Those who do not want to see turn your heads. Those who want to see will be satisfied.
🙂 Yes, according to the 2001 Memo from Henry Kissinger, He says that Bin Laden DIED from LIVER FAILURE and that they have Him on ICE and could wheel Him out again at any time, How about That ? Who did the really Kill, it wasn't Bin Laden ! 6/7/11
What a load of crappe.
Way to lure people into your boring and pointless article with your misleading headline
it was a half way decent article
How childish these references to jesus are. The importance of religion is shrinking faster and faster as formerly inexplicable phenomena are now considered everyday science.
I disagree. It is not childish to make reference to Jesus. To put trust in God is not to abandon all sense of self-strength and lean against a wall that is not there. It is actually more childish to scorn those who put their faith in God. But of course, with no God existing, it seems ridiculous to put your faith in nothing. But which is true? Certainly, with advances of modern science, there is less reason to believe in God. But you misunderstand. Christianity is a unique religion in some senses–its goal is not to explain how these things in nature came about, like Greek mythology. It is much more than that. Our goal, instead, is to grow in a relationship with God and show other people the truth.
It is not childish to make reference to Jesus. Of course, to those who do not believe in God, it is no more than casting our eyes up to empty space, on our knees before a blank wall. And it makes sense that you would believe that. But what about those who do believe in God? For us, it is nothing short of inspirational to put faith in Him. And who is right? Who speaks the TRUTH? Truth is not a matter of simple majority. More people are atheists than believers, but that does not answer the question. Hundreds of years ago, people believed the earth was flat, and only a select few believed that it was round, but was the earth flat before a few explorers sailed around it? How was this answered? Explorers sailed all the way around the world.
You believe there is no God because He has not shown Himself to us. People believed the earth was flat because nobody had gone all the way around it. But there was evidence for the earth being round, even before people saw it for themselves. The horizon, for example. Why was it that the earth didn't just continue on? Originally it was thought that the circular area that they could see was the world. So they thought that this was the whole world. But people migrated around, and the only logical explanation for the horizon changing was that the earth was round, and most was out of their view because of the earth. It took physical evidence for them to believe the earth was round.
People have not seen God, but there is evidence for Him. Our changing horizon is the obvious fact that time and chance alone won't be able to come up with the Universe. It would take trillions of years for the cell to come out of the primordial soup, but it only took less than a billion years. There is more, of course, but that would take up too much space. I believe the reason we do not believe in God is because we have not ventured out across the sea in our Pintas, our Ninas, our Santa Marias–we have not even considered anything other than our own world views. And we say that we don't believe in God because there is enough scientific evidence to say otherwise (which is a lie, of course–there is not enough evidence to make evolution or the Big Bang any more than a theory). I ask you all to venture out and try to think about this logically.
There are a lot of good people in hell. Heaven is only for perfect people. There's only one way to be considered by God to be perfect, that is to put your trust in Jesus Christ just as the Israelites put their trust in the blood on their doorposts during the first Passover.
No, the only true way to get into Valhalla is to die honorably in battle. To be gratefully chosen by the Valkyrie, and to promise to lend your arm and your steel against your foes even after death. All true warriors strive for such a fate.
Yes indeed, good sir (I am disregarding the first response).