Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero

Although I haven't actually checked, I'm sure CNN has a One Year Anniversary of September 11 graphic all set to flood the airwaves (if it hasn't already) over the next week. (Ditto MSNBC and the broadcast channels, no doubt.) I also have a general fear that the worst is yet to come as far as treacly, exploitative, jingoistic commemorations of last year's terror.

But Frontline's Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero is not, admirably and thankfully, among said worst. Rather, it's a truly thoughtful and undeniably thought-provoking look at a variety of answers to the question, 'Where was God on September 11?'

A Catholic Monsignor explains how he knew immediately upon hearing of the attacks in New York that religion was behind them. A photographer looking at images of people jumping from thousands of feet to their death wonders whether they saw heaven beneath them as they leapt. Some parents who lost children tell how they've come to accept those losses as God's or Allah's plan. Marian Fontana, whose firefighter husband died in the towers, admits that she's given up on God, at least for now.

All told, the program is a stunning look at what seems to me one of the key questions of that day: how can faith answer for such an inconceivable horror? (Or can it?) In the process, it gives space to anger, and hope, and severe doubt--space that I imagine few other September 11 tributes in the American media will allow.

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