Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why talking correctly matters . . .

Just taking a small break from the weightier issues to address something that is a massive problem in our culture: speaking and spelling correctly.

First up - "Me and Dan are going to the beach."

When you are with a friend and you are describing what you are doing, the correct way to say it is "Dan and I are going to the beach."  You NEVER EVER EVER say "Me and Dan are going to the beach."  The point is obvious - you don't talk about yourself first, you mention others first.  As a matter of grammar, try taking the other person out of the sentence - you would never say "me going to the beach" - you say "I."  So stop saying "Me and Dan!!!"

Second - "There" - "They're" - "Their"
Stop using there for 'their' and 'they're' - please.  
Their is possessive: "It is their turn on the surfboard."
They're is a contraction of "they" and "are" as in: "They're going to be there."
There is there and that is all there is!

Third - MAJOR INFRACTION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE! Please stop Facebook updates repeating the last letter of your update as if this draws out the word.  It doesn't.  

Example:  "Going to the shoreeeeeeee" - the way we read this is like "Going to the shore - EEEEEE" as in "Glee."  Please  - when you want to draw out a word - draw out the vowel sound - not the last letter.  Like this:  "Going to the Shooooooore!"  THIS IS A HUGE DEAL - PLEASE CHANGE TO MAKE ME FEEL BETTER ABOUT READING YOUR UPDATES!!!

Fourth - Overuse of 'amazing.'
Everything is officially 'amazing.'  "We had an AMAZING time."  "That song is AMAZING."
Unless you were amazed (and few people truly reach that state) think up a new word.  The word is used so much I don't even know what it means anymore (because repetition destroys meaning - see last week's blog entry - before the end of the world happened).  

Fifth - There is no such word as supposubly.
The word is supposedly.  There is no reason to change the d to a b - they aren't even close to each other on the keyboard.

Sixth - There is no such word as irregardless.
It is regardless - "Regardless of what you think, Ocean City NJ is the best place in the world."  Irregardless defeats the point and makes it say the opposite of what you want to say.

Seventh - I could care less.
Smack yourself with a hammer even when you  think this thought.  If you COULD care less . . . well then it isn't that annoying to you.  You mean to say, "I couldn't care less."  

Eighth - It's not 'could of' - it's 'could have.'
"I could have been at the beach today but I had to work on the boardwalk."

Ninth - It's versus Its
This one is a tough one for me sometimes - "It's" means "it is" and "its" is a possessive.
"It's going to be a great day for surfing."

Tenth - Please know the difference between going down the shore and going to the beach.
"We are going to the beach."
You can only use this sentence when you are at the shore.  When you are not at the shore, you say, "We are going down the shore."   It is local speak, learn it. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Help me make sense of the news . . .

If you are like me, you have heard things on the news about Obama, the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and problems.  The whole Middle East thing seems like one big huge mess.  Here is an attempt to help you sort through some of it . . . it is very basic, but it may help clear up a little confusion.

Barak Obama: He's our president - smart guy, wants to do what is right - that much is easy.

Benjamin Netanyahu: He is the leader of Israel - educated in America and now Prime Minister of Israel for the second time.  He is conservative in his views.  He wants to do what is right for his people.

Palestinians - A group of people who have ties all over the ancient Mediterranean - the Palestinians are what the Bible calls "Philistines" - they have been there that long, residing in Biblical times along the coast of the same area of land that Israel has claims to.  For the last three to four thousand years both Israel and Palestine have legitimate claims of nationhood.  They just can't seem to get along.

The History:  After WWII, the United Nations (out of sympathy for the horrors of the holocaust) made sure that Israel would take up residence in a permanent Israeli state.  It was the right thing to do, but there were Palestinians who were living on that land who were a little upset.  In fact, they felt like they got cheated - and in some ways they are right.  Imagine a judge saying your ex-wife now gets your house when the divorce was 10 years ago.  Some got a little hot and started up organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel.  This is where things get scary.

Of course the way that Israel has dealt with the Palestinians has made the Palestinians feel like they are the terrorists.  Both have a point.

Six Day War:  In 1967, Arabs (who are Muslim and don't necessarily like the Jews) from all the countries that border Israel invaded.  In a stunning response, Israel not only staved off the attacks, but also took land from these neighbors in an effort to prevent something like that from happening again.  It is like someone who gets in your face and you push them out of your face and take a couple steps to give yourself some room.

Statehood:  The Palestinians have been wanting a state of their own . . . but they also want to see Israel destroyed.  In fact there have been several leaders of Palestine who have encouraged terroristic acts, which makes having a state hard to justify.  Imagine a group of people in New York City who want to have their own city block - separated from the rest of the city - and devoted to the destruction of the city.  By giving Palestine its own state, would Israel be empowering its closest neighbor to attack it?  It makes things thorny.

So . . . Obama the other day argued that Palestine should be a state.  This is good.

But then he argued that Israel should go back to its previous borders (pre-1967) which means to give all that land back that was established as a buffer zone. This is a great idea in a perfect world, but it is scary to the people who feel threatened.   For the Jews, it is like removing a restraining order from that guy down the street who stalks you and wants to kill you.  Yikes.

So it is understandable that Netanyahu spent his time in front of the camera lecturing Obama on why this can't happen.  Essentially the Prime Minister of Israel said that he supports a permanent Palestinian state but he has yet to hear Palestine reciprocating . . . and he has a good point.

So how do we get out of this mess?  How do you solve a problem that dates back into thousands of years?

Oh that people could forget the past and create a future that is peaceful.  Maybe that is why God talks about returning one day . . . because we can't do this on our own.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

All good things come from an end . . .

So it is 9:43pm May 21st.  Almost an hour (West Coast Time) after our friend Harold Camping has come to the realization that his math was not needed to compute the end of the world.  I wonder what it is like . . . is he defiant?  Did he lock himself in his study?  Did he take his phone off the hook?  Or is he teary-eyed with the realization that perhaps the Bible is bigger than he thinks?  Of any feeling we should have, it should be one of compassion for a brother that made a big mistake . . . a little grace is what we all need when we blow it.

Of course this is the time for others to blow their horn about how religion is about as real as Camping's 0-2 record at prognosticating the end of the world.  As much as we'd like to disassociate with nutjobs that call for the end of the world, we can't slide as far as we'd like. I mean, if you really buy what the Bible says, there will be a time in which Jesus returns to judge the world.  We hold a view that is crazy by most standards - God will return at some (undisclosed and unknowable) time in the future (try talking about that in the breakroom/ at the playdate/ or TGI Fridays).

Remember, our faith is born out of one LOOOOOOONG wait for a Messiah.  With scriptural cues as far back as 1,000 BC in the 22nd Psalm, the Jews waited a long, long, loooooooong time for God to act on their behalf.  In that time, the country divided in half, Kings were evil, foreign countries invaded and plundered the temple, and the country of Israel went through 3 or 4 landlords. In all of this time, the once burning message of God coming to save the Jews went dim.  This expectation turned into a way to placate God.  It's like God let something die.

And then Jesus showed up.  It was the end of an era (but the dawn of a new one).

So some might be saying, "yeah, so where is that God of yours?  Isn't this whole thing with Camping another indication that it is all a bunch of stories?"

We've been here before . . . God seems to have a much different timetable - His idea of lateness is not like ours.  In fact, His idea of letting something die is different than ours.  It seems like He lets something die just so He can raise it to life again.

And THAT is something you can put a guarantee on . . .

Friday, May 20, 2011

Harold Camping . . . a nice guy (and a little frahootled)

It was in the November of the year that I was twelve in which I decided to follow Christ.  I was an altar boy at St. Francis in the Fields church in Malvern PA and up to that point the only thing I knew about Christianity was that most of them were rich.  Our church had BMWs and Mercedes Benz's all over the place.  Kids in youth group had dads who were big deals.  The Dupont family members were in the choir.  It was all very surreal - burlap banners of St. Francis (who was one of the most famous poor people ever) and visiting priests who showed up in pastel, Don Johnson-esque suits with the little priest collar at the top.

So I had to find out what this new faith was all about outside of church.  Lucky for me there was a free magazine that you could call a 1-800 number and get a subscription to.  It was called the Plain Truth.  Years later I would find out that it was linked to a strange cult called "Armstrongism."  

I also found a neat little radio station called "Family Radio" out of Camden NJ that had lots of interesting Bible teaching that I would listen to.  At night it was especially interesting, I got to know a guy named Harold Camping who hosted a nightly call-in show called "The Open Forum."  He would field all kinds of questions about the Bible from people that called in.

Now if his name sounds familiar, its because it is the same guy who says that the Bible has a secret message to believers that is numerically based.  If you are smart enough to figure out the math, you would realize that this Saturday May 21 the rapture will occur and those who are saved are going to be leaving this planet via the Son of God's second coming.

So one question I have is: "How did I ever turn out somewhat normal?"  How could I have had such diverse influences?  Wealthy Anglicanism, Armstrongism, Kooky pastors on radio shows . . . I should be on a commune about now with my eight children with names like "Johiabad" or "Lamech" creating websites about the alignment of celestial bodies and the Biblical signs of the apocalypse.

Of course I remember back when Harold Camping did this the last time - back in 1994 he prophesied that the return of Christ was in the fall.  I remember the guy I was interning with circled September in his Daytimer as "rapture season."  And yes, Harold was wrong then.  

He is a nice old man who knows a lot about the Bible - I would love to be neighbors with him.  Its just that he forgets that when Jesus said He was returning someday, He said that no one would know the day or the hour.  

Mark 13: 21 - “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it.

and again later . . .

Mark 13:32 - "However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

This last one is actually an expression that grooms would use about their wedding day.  In ancient Israel, the man who was engaged would go back to his father's house and work on his "Chuppa" or bridal chamber for about a year.  This was to be where his bride and he would live.  The groom's father would inspect it and only when it met the father's specs on quality would he receive permission to go and bring his fiance back to the house to be married.  When people would ask him when the big day was, his answer was "only my Father knows the day."  Jesus, it seems, is preparing a place for us right now.  And at just the right time, the Father will give Him a nod to put an end to the wait and the Earth can end its separation from God.

So . . . sorry Mr Camping.  There are no mathematical formulas for figuring that out.  You are a kind old man who knows a lot but it seems like you have gone overboard with math.  

But its not too late to rope yourself in and try to bring the Kingdom of God to this Earth through the way you live your life - the graciousness of your actions, the way you forgive, the justice you help maintain, the poor you provide for, the fatherless you defend . . .

Let God decide when its time to come back.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Repetition . . . Repetition

Repetition is a most interesting thing - it simultaneously builds and destroys meaning.

It builds meaning when we take words, give them meaning and tell people to repeat them.  We say the pledge of allegiance or we sing the national anthem because it is important for a society to remember that we are American.  As Americans and we have a common goal of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  We repeat these things because these ideas slowly leak away when we don't consciously remind ourselves of their importance.

We can find this kind of 'meaning building' in the books we read, music we listen to or movies we watch.  If you are an atheist, you seek out words and lyrics and images that resonate with what you want to be reminded of.  Try it - the next time you hear someone talk about spiritual things or read someone's opinion about God or the Bible - if you wince, it is your conditioning that is pushing through your subconscious.  Those "words that scream for your submission" remind you of the awful meaning behind them.

However, repetition also destroys meaning.  Most of us when we were kids would marvel at how repeating a word over and over leaves you confused.  Say the word "fence" about 50 times and it is peculiar how your brain has a hard time figuring out what you are even saying anymore.  The same is true of a person who has been observing a liturgy for the last 50 years, knows the order of service by heart and yet the whole thing seems bereft of meaning anymore.

Maybe that is why Jesus never wrote a book.  Think of that . . . He never instituted a particular order of worship, organizational chart for the church or 3 step process.  No chants, postures or prayers (although there is the Lord's prayer, but even His was borrowed from Hebrew tradition - perhaps an indication of the simple kinds of things to pray for, not a formula).  Even in one of His more sacred moments - the last supper - Jesus reminded the disciples to take part in it, "as often as you do it . . ."

So how can it simultaneously build AND destroy?  Simple . . . it destroys the original meaning through repetition and it builds a new one in its place.  So what starts out in the beginning of the year as a set time to read the Bible first thing in the morning by June becomes something to cross off the list.  A passage from scripture honoring Mary becomes a spell we utter in times of trouble - similar to rubbing a rabbits' foot or clutching a four-leafed clover.   Maybe your church turns into a social club of people with similar political views.  Whatever it is, we need to be wary of repetition - it sneaks in like a thief and robs us of authenticity.

How do we escape the snare of repetition?  Action.  Live it out.  The Word is created fresh in each new Godly action.

Post Script:  Pop quiz: Tell me where - "words that scream for your submission" comes from . . .

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What Children Remind us of . . .

Last week my wife was at the kitchen table putting together a list for groceries that we needed and thought she would ask the kids whether we needed anything at the store.

Do you know what it sounds like when popcorn starts to pop - one pop . . . then two . . . then three in a row . . . ?  That's what it sounded like coming from the next room:


"Donuts."   "Ice Cream!"

"Green beans for Aedan."

She should have known better to ask kids what to get at the store.  A flurry of giggles and random non-nutritious ideas popped furiously through the doorway and then a pause . . .

"Tyler broke my ribcage."

I just laughed inside - so grateful that our lives are punctuated by such random little beasts.  There is so much that they give to us and don't even know it.  That is why it is gratifying to be able to provide for them when they need it most.  Last night Aedan came into our bedroom late at night and looked so nervous. I told him to come over and tell me what the problem was.  It was more like, "Aedan . . . WHAT is the PROBLEM?"  Let's face it, no one likes to be awakened in the middle of the night.

He said, "I'm scared." So I asked him, "scared of what?"
And he said, "I don't know . . ."

It was then I knew that words were not the thing, I pulled him into bed and winged the covers over him and felt his little heart slow down.  All he needed was another person there with him in the middle of his fear.  I was so glad to be there for him - reassurance that someone else was awake and watching over you is a great comfort.

I love how kids remind us that in the midst of our chaotic and sometimes fearful lives, all we need is the subjective and un-provable (but very soothing) presence of our Father.  Someone whose presence we can feel in the middle of the night, when all we need is someone who is awake and watching over us.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Four Horsemen of Wrong.

 Take a look at these four men . . .

So who are these guys?   Bank heist mastermindst?  Wall Street tycoons?  Environmental activists?  Four men who picked their prescriptive eyewear in the late 1980’s?  - (although that certainly is true, it is not what I am after).  

    They are in fact Bible scholars  - Niels Peter Lemche, Thomas Thompson, Philip Davies and Keith Whitelam.  They are scholars of what has become known as the 'Minimalist' school.  Basically they hold that the Old Testament stories are myths invented by Bible writers.   Since these researchers couldn't find any archeological remains that mention the names of prominent Biblical figures, the Bible must be nothing more than fanciful tales invented by priests and religious types. 

The problem is that they are  . . . sorely mistaken. 

    About 20 years ago, other researchers found inscriptions of the Bible characters like King David and other notable Old Testament personalities from the 9th century BC.  These are just two examples here of King David mentioned outside the scriptures . . .
    Other examples of extra-Biblical support of the names and places written in the Bible began to be produced.    It has been demonstrated over and over with artifacts, timelines and history that the Old Testament is not a collection of myths, but historically accurate.  In fact this month’s copy of Biblical Archeology Review claims the Minimalist view they hold is dead.  Yes, dead.  Not many science-minded publications make those kinds of definitive claims, so when BAR did, it is worth noticing.
    Of course this didn’t convert these researchers from their beliefs.  They persist in the idea that these inscriptions are perhaps names of towns or that perhaps the dating on them is not accurate.  BAR scathingly calls this refusal to accept that they were wrong as “paradigm-collapse trauma.”  Ouch. 

    Well, just saying “way to go BAR” for continuing your work in showing us that the Bible (while not God or an idol) is a pretty amazing and historically accurate book.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Job #1 - Summer Vacation

It is May 10th - do you know where your summer is?

Thanks to our diluvian spring which dumped 5 feet of rain on us every Saturday with highs in the 40's we were robbed of Spring.  No gentle bird chirping, no sense of a warm breeze that blew in one day to remind us that winter is leaving.  No, the dial went from winter to summer to Seattle to now which is something like spring but no one has vegetable gardens started.

All this to say that summer is coming.  And I don't mean like, "yay!  summer is coming" I mean you better get serious about your first job as a person who takes their life seriously.

You need to have a plan for summer vacation.

If you are a dad, you need to plan at least one family vacation and one getaway with each of your kids individually.  I know, for some of you this could mean 5 vacations . . . but in this case it looks like this: 1 week of family vacation and then a Friday night to Saturday night with the youngest in June, a Friday to Sunday morning with the middle one in July and maybe a Saturday to Sunday night with the oldest in August.  Get creative.  Go on roadtrips - just literally leave your development and ask your kid "right or left" for the next couple of hours and see where it takes you.  Bring a tent (make it a little less expensive on yourself).  Trust me, they will remember the mini-mart dinners and the pizza you ate for breakfast.

If you are a teen, you need to exploit this time in your life - young and cash-strapped.  Grab a couple of your friends, bum some camping equipment from parents and friends of parents and spend a weekend hiking the Appalachian Trail.  The closest access is up in Lebanon - google it.  If your boss tells you that you can't because you have to work - get perspective.  If you are going to spend the rest of your life serving tables at Masonic Village, then you better worry.  Otherwise, give your boss plenty of notice and get camping.  If that really ticks the boss off and he fires you, don't worry - you only needed money so you could get gas so you could work so you could get money so you could get gas so you could get to work . . .  you get the point: you have the rest of your life to work.  Be young and poor.

If you are a mom with kids - make the small things fun - proclaim every Friday night pizza and movie night.  Make homemade pizza and grab a movie at redbox.  Or on a very hot night, wake the kids up at 10:00pm and take them to the backyard where you have tiki lights, a sprinkler under the trampoline and sparklers going.  Mess with their heads.  They'll think you have gone nuts.  Exactly.

The point is that summer comes up on us so quickly that it becomes August before you know it and you wished that you had done something out-of-routine.  You have to clear your schedule tonight.  Sit down at the kitchen table with paper and pencils and brainstorm some great things to do this summer.  Here are a few:

1.  Pull truck-tire tubes from the recycling bin at a tire place - take them to a big creek and float.
2.  Camp in your backyard with your kids
3.  Go to Hawk Mountain for a day of hiking.
4.  A Day at Ocean City New Jersey (Luray Manor is a nice, simple beach Inn owned by the Vanderpools on 7th Street. Lodging is between $63-$93 per night peak season 609-399-5260).
5.  A Day in New York City (drive to Staten Island and park for a fee, but then ride the S.I. Ferry across to Battery Park in NYC for free - it goes past the Statue of Liberty - very cool).
6.  Rickett's Glen State Park - 22 waterfalls, the longest one is 94 feet - super park!
7.  Take a bunch of friends to Philly for the Day and explore South Street and then go to a Phillies Game.
8.  Long's Park for an evening of Ultimate Frisbee and then Ritas.  Repeat every Friday night.
9.  Rent a boat at Raystown Lake.
10.  Take a day trip to Roundtop - they have a ball you can climb inside and roll down a hill.

But you can come up with better ones.  Remember:  Think MEMORIES - not price tag or inconvenience.  Work within a budget, but have fun with the people you love!  If you plan it tonight and get on it - you will breathe a sigh of relief come August . . . because this summer . . . you lived!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My experience in the alternate universe of tweendom

There is a philosophy that says that our ultimate fulfillment happens in the absence of stimulation - that we are searching for serenity and calm.  Fishing, watching ballet or meditation are examples of this human need to empty one's self of noise.

Then there is the philosophy that says we seek stimulation as a means to feeling alive and knowing what truth is.  Roller coasters and rock concerts are examples of this way of thinking.  Essentially, the more that you allow your senses to be overloaded, the more you realize the truth is beyond your physical self.

If the latter is the case, then my experience tonight with 5th ,6th ,7th, and 8th graders at LCBC's student ministry outing called "Compassion 365" has made me a Zen master.  Seriously, we're talking Yoda status.

The whole evening was to celebrate that hundreds of tweeners donated enough supplies for families in the Harrisburg area for 365 days.  It was momentous to realize what these young people did.  And what a party was had!  After sending the trailer off with the donated supplies, there was a concert, ice cream sundaes, live "Angry Birds", photo booths and tons of soda.  And then we took them bowling . . . can you picture the mayhem of hundreds of middle schoolers bowling?  I personally witnessed a young man hurl himself through the air at another student in ninja fashion whispering (loudly) "Unicorn Man!"

I checked my league rules . . . I am pretty sure that doesn't have anything to do with bowling.

I saw students order snacks from the snack bar and then walk off having forgotten they placed an order.  Like fish, they are renewing their consciousness every 15 minutes.

My favorite part was on the way home - I had such a fun time getting to know a half dozen 5th graders, but I am used to getting to know individuals on a shared-attention basis.  That doesn't work with tweens. Essentially I held 6 conversations at once.  It was amazing:

One girl was screaming a riddle to me about two people that wound up being shot and I had to figure out how.  At the exact same moment, over the din of 60 other students, road noise and every window being down on the bus, a young man kept tapping me on the back apparently excited to share his own riddle. At exactly the same moment a group of girls decide to sing "Friday" by Rebecca Black.  About one second later (in the midst of the rest of it) I felt something plastic make contact with my left ear and a tinny rendition of some teen pop song began blasting in my head (apparently the girl behind me thought it was the best moment to expose me to her favorite song).

I literally laughed out loud.  I was having an out-of-body experience.  It was uncontrollable.  All of my ideas of philosophy and theology - spirit, substance, energy, sense and nonsense - all being played out in front of me.  No, it was more like I was treading the choppy waves of youthful vigor and was starting to get mouthfuls of water.  What else could I do but laugh?  It was too much and yet I loved it all.

You can't be a control freak and ride one of these busses.  No, that would be Hades for you.  You sort of have to go with it.  And that is what I did.  And in the midst of it, I was blessed to feel the some of the currents of the next generation.  And I was glad to be a part of the student ministry team at LCBC that 'gets it' about students.

And I am not sure, but I definitely want to look into whether the laughter I experienced comes from God.  Sounds right.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The haze of suspicion

There are people that are clamoring for the proof of Osama Bin Laden’s death.  As if producing a photograph of the leader post-mortem is going to silence those who are suspicious of the event.  No way that is going to happen . . .  because radical ideas can linger in the haze of suspicion. 

You could say that the same kind of thinking is alive and well in the mind of the religious.  People who follow Christ have ignored the ‘fact’ that no one has or ever will raise from the dead.  The idea of faith and of Christianity remains in tact by ignoring this obvious conclusion.  To some, the haze is just as thick.

But we can’t forget the very opposite may also be the case.

Perhaps it is because of knowing about the very fickleness of human nature that God is not in the business of cataloging details about the resurrection.  Perhaps it is the profound unerstanding of human nature that led the entire resurrection planning and event to ignore the need for ‘proofs’ because in the end, it isn’t the objective proofs that really establish anything.

In the end it is what we experience as a result of the resurrection that gains the most credibility – the way it influences the trajectory of our lives.  That is the LIVING proof.

Maybe that is why God is not as impressed with crosses that hanging from our neck as he is with a transformed life.  Where we used to be selfish, now we think of others.  Where we used to get even, we now release and where we once celebrated the death and resurrection of the Son of God we allow His new life to be lived through us.  We are . . . born again.

And in the end, isn't that the proper way to celebrate a man’s death?

Monday, May 2, 2011

The gift of 10 years

Osama Bin Laden was given the gift of ten years to process what he did to innocent people and change his ways.  Some people think that was too long.  I am grateful that we have a God who extends that kind of mercy to even the most criminal of us.  What an amazing gift - ten years to repent.

But he squandered it.

I can't imagine what it must have felt like to be him.  How could you live with the shadow of that in your life?  I remember getting in fights with kids in elementary school and wincing as I punched them in the nose.  One kid's name was Joey Oaks.  For some reason we wound up in a fight and I really did a number on him.  My friends and older brother were cheering me on as I pounded on him, but then afterward I really felt bad . . . really bad.

Now magnify that by 10 million.

Imagine being responsible for 9/11.  I know, there was a lot of high-fiving in the upper ranks of the radical Muslim community, but what about the in-between times?  What about the times that Osama looked into the eyes of little children.  Do you think that he didn't see the CNN reports of innocent people dead?  Did he not know that little children were now missing parents?  Did he really give thanks to God that people jumped to their death from eighty and ninety stories up?  Is it possible that he had weak moments in which a part of him felt uneasy or wrong about what he did?  As a human, did he feel the weight of what he just did?

How could you not have dreams about thousands of voices brought to silence in one moment?  How could the psyche bypass the weight of it all?

What about God?  Was He working on Osama as well?  Was there some kind of inner turmoil that was lit by the Almighty?  Did God attempt to reclaim one of His children from the darkness of hate?  Perhaps God allotted almost ten years to this task in hopes of repentance.

Then his time simply ran out.

Make use of the time that you have, friend.