I can’t believe 7 years have passed already since 9/11/2001. Leading up to this horror, Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, was executed a few months prior. He set the stage by his final statement before his death as he quoted from William Henley’s poem, “Invictus.”
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
In the face of his own death, McVeigh quoted the last 2 lines – “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” This is the reality of evil. And as this evil was punished, an even greater evil emerged.
I am from NY. My father got his PhD from NYU so he spent a lot of time in the world trade center towers. We were on furlough from doing mission work in Tokyo and Jackie was visiting my family in NY.
It was her first visit to the east coast so we were on a tour bus toward downtown NY. It was a little before 9am and a car drove by us and said, turn on the radio, the towers had been hit by an airplane. It sounded like a cruel joke. And as we were reaching for the radio, we turned to our right side window and saw the smoke coming out of the first tower.
We pulled over to the side of the road and within minutes, the towers collapsed. It was like a movie during its climax when the sound gets muted and
everything moves in slow motion for dramatic effect. We stood there in stunned silence. Then from a distance, we heard a faint scream. Then another.
And I distinctly remember praying, Lord, have mercy on us. Have mercy on the people in the towers and their families. Lord, I commit my life to being your witness to confront evil and to preach the good news.
What is a Christian response to evil? Doreathea Day’s poem, “My Captain,” was written as a response to Henley’s poem, “Invictus.” I believe there are some clues in this poetic rebuttal.
Out of the night that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole,
I thank the God I know to be
For Christ the conqueror of my soul.
Since His the sway of circumstance,
I would not wince nor cry aloud.
Under that rule which men call chance
My head with joy is humbly bowed.
Beyond this place of sin and tears
That life with Him! And His the aid,
Despite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and shall keep me, unafraid.
I have no fear, though strait the gate,
He cleared from punishment the scroll.
Christ is the Master of my fate,
Christ is the Captain of my soul.