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Satellite and Recent Events
Ever since I arrived at my place of business in New York City Tuesday morning, my phone and email have been flooded with messages from people around the country asking about my safety and whereabouts. In truth, I'm actually several miles from what has been dubbed "ground zero," the former site of the World Trade Towers, so I have never been in any real danger. The biggest issue for me was whether or not I would be able to get back home to Connecticut that night.
Interestingly enough, waiting for me on my desk that morning (before I even heard about what had happened) was a copy of the new P.O.D. album Satellite, which was released that day. I had eagerly awaited the release of the disc, but as soon as a friend notified me of what was going on downtown I ignored the disc and spent the rest of my abbreviated workday glued to the television, like just about every other American. I was horrified by what I was seeing. Watching videotape of the second plane fly into the building I flinched. And then when the buildings proceeded to collapse the reality of what was going on really hit home. I just knew that thousands of people had lost their lives.
Hours later I was finally able to find a train ride home and I packed the new P.O.D. disc in my bag so I could listen to it on the ride. But rather than taking my mind off of the tragedy of the day, I found much of Satellite to be a poignant and thoughtful examination of the evil running rampant in our world.
The first song, "Set it Off" encourages the listener to rise up in the face of evil and Armageddon. This is followed by "Alive," which is the first single on the album. The song, inspired by a car accident, offers hope and affirms how we can only feel truly alive when living our lives within God's will. Other songs addressing the senselessness of violence in our society include "Youth of a Nation," sung, in part, from the perspective of a kid who dies as the result of a Columbine-like massacre. I couldn't help but ponder over the opening lines of that song:
Last day of the rest of my lifeIt made me wonder about those left behind in this tragedy. Every day I go off to work and don't think anything about it. I just assume that I'll get to work, do my job, and then get home safely*the same thing that each and every one of the victims thought on Tuesday. They left their homes to board planes or go to work, leaving loved ones behind, and those loved ones never thought for a moment that they would never see their fathers, mothers, or other family members, ever again.
At the end of the song the band sings:
Who's to blame for the lives that tragedies claimIn a tragedy like this many are shaking their fists in the air, wondering how a loving God could allow this to happen, or even wondering where God is. None of us have answers. While many are spouting that this is part of God's judgment on our nation for falling away from him, I'm hesitant to make that claim. In fact, I'm bothered by those who exploit these instances to breath fire and brimstone. Yes, God does judge, but not every disaster or tragedy is judgment. Read the book of Job or the story about the man born blind. To me, the only answer I can come up with, and the answer that I gave the kids in our church youth group Tuesday night, was plain and simple: Sin. Since the fall of man in the garden, our lives, society, culture, and the world, have all been tainted by sin. Sin is present everywhere. It is sin that causes people to hijack planes and snuff out so many lives. This does not mean that these situations are necessarily the result of the direct judgment of God on his people. It may or may not be. But in the end, these things happen because we live in a world tainted by sin. Because of sin, bad things happen. Even to "good" people.
With that being the answer, it doesn't help us make any more sense out of all of this. We still wonder "why?" and are confused and even angered. But we just need to accept that evil happens. In fact, as my brother said to me Tuesday night, he's surprised that everyone is so surprised about all of this happening. He's surprised that it hasn't happened sooner. Sin is everywhere and in our post-modern society our values have changed so drastically that right and wrong are words that have disappeared from our vocabulary.
But again, there is hope. In "Ghetto," P.O.D. addresses the disagreements and grievances we all have with each other:
We should agree to disagreeAnd later:
So don't give in to this hate withinEven the nicest of neighborhoods with million dollar homes and well-manicured lawns are ghettos in God's eyes due to the presence of sin. No one is immune from its effects.
P.O.D wraps up the disc with a few songs that point squarely at the answer to sin: the redeeming blood of Jesus. In "Without Jah, Nothin'" and "Thinking About Forever" they point to Christ as the antidote to sin. So while we may still scream skyward, like David in the Psalms, and wonder "why" these things happen, we need to remember that we may never understand these things, but put our faith firmly in Christ.
I pray that we won't soon forget what has happened here in NYC and Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania. And I pray that while the large majority of us watched this unfold on television, we would remember that this is not just some scripted TV show with high tech special effects. We have become so numbed by Hollywood's pyrotechnics and media saturation that I fear many of us, including myself, will quickly forget the events of the past few days in the same way we allow the plots of movies to disappear from our minds. This was real, with real people involved. And while the answers aren't easy, we need to remember that God has a plan for all of this, and ultimately he is in charge. Let us pray for the families and friends of those who have lost their lives or have been injured. Let us pray that God would use this opportunity to bring these people, and the survivors who narrowly escaped, and each and every one of us, closer to Him.
As P.O.D. sings to us in "Portrait," the final song on the album:
Some people call you FatherSeptember 11, 2001 was the perfect day for P.O.D. to drop Satellite in our laps. May we listen to what they have to say.