faith and doubt at ground zero


Priests, rabbis, an Islamic scholar, a professor of Middle East studies, an English professor, a British novelist, a psychoanalyst, and the photographer who documented Ground Zero for the City of New York.

monsignor lorenzo albacete

Albacete is a professor of theology at St. Joseph's Seminary in New York, and formerly served as associate professor of theology at the John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and Family. Here, he discusses the "two faces of God" -- the compassionate and the destructive -- and his ongoing quest to reconcile the two. He candidly acknowledges that he recognized the ruinous forces of religion in those first moments after the attacks on Sept. 11.

Andrew Delbanco

Delbanco, a literary critic and professor of humanities at Columbia University in New York, is the author of several books, including The Death of Satan: How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil (1996). Here, Delbanco talks about why he thinks the concepts of "sin" and "evil" should be reintroduced into public discourse, especially after Sept. 11. He also discusses why Herman Melville's Moby Dick, one of the classics of American literature, has acquired a new significance in the 21st century.

Khaled Abou el-Fadl

El-Fadl, one of the leading thinkers on Islamic law in the United States, is a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he teaches courses related to human rights and terrorism. He has authored several books, including Conference of the Books: The Search for Beauty in Islam (2001), and Speaking in God's Name: Islamic Law, Authority and Women (2001). Here, he discusses Wahhabism, the puritan strain of Islam that Osama bin Laden practices, and its role in Sept. 11, and says that Muslims haven't done enough to counter the extremist currents in Islam. El-Fadl, a devout Muslim who has written extensively and critically about the spread of Islamic fundamentalism, also talks about the many death threats he has received since Sept. 11, and offers an unsparing assessment of the extremists who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.

Rev. Joseph Griesedieck

Griesedieck is an Episcopal priest in Manhattan who volunteered at Ground Zero. Here, he talks about being compelled to go to Ground Zero, the horrors he witnessed, and why the face of God is now a bigger mystery to him. He also comments on the changes that he sees taking place in himself and others as a result of the shock of Sept. 11.

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield

Hirschfield, an Orthodox rabbi, is the vice president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York City. Here, he talks about the time he spent at Ground Zero; how he answers the question "Where was God on Sept. 11?"; and why it's essential to recognize the role that religion played in the attacks.

Rabbi Irwin Kula

Kula, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership in New York City, lectures and teaches throughout the United States on Judaism and Jewish life in America. Here, he discusses the "shadow side" of religions, including his own, and chronicles his own serious doubts about Jewish traditional scholarship after Sept. 11.

Kanan Makiya

Makiya is a professor of Middle East studies at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. A native of Iraq, he has written several books, including Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq (1998). An atheist, Makiya here discusses how Sept. 11 affected his beliefs. He says that the Arab world has allowed the "dark corners" of religion to flourish, and that the Sept. 11 hijackers represent a new and particularly dangerous form of religious extremism.

Kanan mcewan

McEwan is the author of several novels, including Atonement (2001), Amsterdam (1998), which was awarded the Booker Prize, and Black Dogs (1992). As an atheist, McEwan does not blame religion for the Sept. 11 attacks. Instead, he says religion is a "morally neutral force," and acts of extraordinary cruelty are best understood for their human, rather than religious, dimensions.

Kanan meyerowitz

Meyerowitz, an acclaimed photographer, was given access to Ground Zero on Sept. 23, 2001, and has documented the wrenching cleanup and recovery efforts there. (See an online exhibit of his photographs from his book.) Here, he talks about the difficulties of the experience, the paradoxical and disturbing beauty of the site itself, and why he feels a need to create a photographic archive of what happened there in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

Kanan ulanov

Ulanov is a professor of psychiatry and religion at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She is the author of several books, including Religion and the Spiritual in Carl Jung (2000) and The Healing Imagination: The Meeting of Psyche and Soul (2000). Here, Ulanov discusses the spiritual crisis that was forced upon so many after Sept. 11, how images of God are being reconfigured, whether Osama bin Laden is the personification of evil, and, finally, whether grief can yield a new religious reality.

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