In "Writing in the Dust", a very brief piece written shortly after 9/11, Rowan Williams contrasts two very different forms of last words on that day:
"messages sent by passengers on the planes to their spouses and families in the desperate last minutes, and the spiritual advice apparently given to the terrorists by one of their number, the thoughts that should be in their minds as they approach the death they have chosen. The religious words are, in the cold light of day, the words that murderers are saying to themselves to make a martyr's dream out of a crime. The nonreligious words are testimony to what religious language is supposed to be about - the triumph of pointless, gratuitous love, the affirming of faithfulness even when there is nothing to be done or salvaged. It should give us pause, especially if we think we are religious."
André Maurois knew the problem - Maurois was a quotable French author of the early 20th century. One quote of his that came very much to mind on a couple of occassions last week is (in...
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