Mormons and Meaning on September 11

September 11, 2011 | 50 comments
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In the comments to Pres. Monson’s article on the Washington Post’s On Faith blog one Church member claimed that “Not one single LDS employee working in the Twin Towers was at work that morning.” This is, of course, incorrect. In fact, one of the LDS employees working in the towers died in the attack, as did two more on planes and two in the Pentagon.

This may be an attempt to extend some of the rumors that were passed through email in the weeks following September 11th. One account claimed that a group of missionaries was scheduled to meet at the Trade Center at 9:o0 AM, but that “every single missionary had problems that morning getting to the meeting, either not waking up on time, or with transportation. No one made it to the towers.” Of course, to Church members who live in New York City the idea was implausible, at best. Another email suggested that 40 BYU interns all contracted food poisoning and couldn’t make it to work at the towers that day, but since BYU didn’t have interns in the trade center at that time, this email was also labeled a hoax. Later that fall, academic Mary Ellen Robertson, speaking at the Sixth Annual Religious Studies Conference at Utah Valley State College (now Utah Valley University), called the motivation behind these emails “Chosen People Syndrome.”

While these email messages were certainly misguided, their popularity still represents something we all have had to or are struggling with—how to find meaning in the events of September 11th. For many of us here in New York and other September 11 sites, the meanings found by politicians, patriots and almost everyone outside of New York seem quite different than what we see here. At least, these meanings leave out one important thing: the people.

In all of the politics and patriotism that surround the public perception of September 11th, I think we often forget the people—it seems we, as a nation, are caught up in revenge and reaction, and concern over security and safety, that we forget the grief and fear of those who personally faced the tragedy. I don’t say that our national perceptions are necessarily wrong, just incomplete without the personal.

The incorrect perception of the member who commented on Pres. Monson’s post about how LDS Church members suffered in the tragedy is an example of how views are incomplete. So, perhaps it will help make the tragedy that much more personal to remember the LDS Church members who died in the tragedy—not because they are more important than others who perished, but because we, Mormons, might identify with them.

So, here are some short biographies of the LDS Church members among those who perished:

  • Ivhan Luis Carpio Bautista
    Bautista, 24, had recently joined the LDS Church and was a member of the Richmond Hill District, which covers parts of Brooklyn and Queens, New York. Tuesday, September 11th was actually his day off his work at Windows on the World, the famous restaurant located on the 107th floor of One World Trade Center. It was also his birthday. But the Peruvian-native Carpio agreed to cover a co-worker’s shift because he needed all the money he could get for his extended family in Peru.
    Things were going very well for Carpio. He had learned English during his two years in the US, found a steady job and had moved into his own apartment just a month before. On September 10th, he had learned that he was accepted by John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University of New York. He had been worried that the school wouldn’t accept his more than two years of law school in Peru.
  • Carolyn Beug
    Beug, 48, had retired from the music industry, where she had directed music videos, including an award-winning video for Van Halen’s song “Right Now” and several for country singer Dwight Yoakam. Beug was working on a children’s book about Noah’s Ark and with her mother, Mary Alice Wahlstrom (see below) had just taken Beug’s twin daughters to start college at the Rhode Island School of Design. Wahlstrom and Beug were returning to California on American Airlines Flight 11.
  • Brady Kay Howell
    Howell, 26, a native of Sugar City, Idaho, would go home each night and brag to his wife about the “amazing things” he was working on as a civilian employee for the chief of naval intelligence in the Pentagon. But he would tease his wife, Elizabeth, saying that he couldn’t tell her about any of it because it was classified. A co-worker, Aaron Otto, said Brady “was the kind of guy who would go across town to pick up a Star Wars action figure, because he knew that someone in his family collected that sort of thing.” Howell was a returned missionary who had served in the Spain Canary Islands mission.
  • Rhonda Sue Ridge Rasmussen
    Rasmussen, 44, worked in the Army’s budget office in the Pentagon, a position she had taken the previous April, after following her husband, Floyd, a management analyst at the Pentagon, in his career. This led their family to move 27 times in their nearly 27-year-long marriage. She enjoyed reading to her husband, who had poor eyesight, nearly every night—the couple had just begun one of the books in the Harry Potter series before the attack. They had planned to move back to California, where they met and married, in October of that year.
  • Mary Alice Wahlstrom
    Wahlstrom, 78, was “unstoppable.” She rose at 5 each morning, read books, traveled, debated current events and played golf. She was a volunteer usher at Temple Square and member of the Kaysville 17th Ward. She was traveling with her daughter, Carolyn Beug (see above), returning from taking her granddaughters to start college in Rhode Island. Another granddaughter, Maryann Wahlstrom, 21, was waiting for a van to pick her up from the Missionary Training Center to fly to her mission in Germany when she was informed all flights had been cancelled. When she called home she learned that her grandmother and aunt were on board the hijacked flights, “It is unbelievable,” Maryann Wahlstrom. “You can never imagine something like this could happen.”

I’m sure the above are poor summaries of lives that family members would say are varied and complicated. It seems to me that, as we construct meaning out of the events of September 11th, we should somehow include these people, and the complexity that is their lives, in that meaning. Perhaps then we can move beyond simplistic, political and patriotic interpretations to fuller, more compassionate meaning.

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50 Responses to Mormons and Meaning on September 11

  1. Ugly Mahana on September 11, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Thank you.

  2. Bro. Jones on September 11, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Excellent post, thanks.

  3. Christopher Bradford (Grasshopper) on September 11, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Thank you. One of the most meaningful 9/11 remembrances I’ve read.

  4. Anonymous on September 11, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Thank you. One of the people you mentioned was a close friend of one of my friends, and I still remember vividly how much it hurt her every time someone would tell her how no one who was LDS had died that morning.

  5. WVS on September 11, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Thanks, Kent for sharing a bit of the lives of these Church members – a bittersweet connection to those terrible events.

  6. Ardis E. Parshall on September 11, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Remembering individuals of the past by name and personal story is very important to me. Thank you for this, Kent.

  7. Ben Park on September 11, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Thanks for this, Kent.

  8. Roger Billings on September 11, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Thanks Kent for providing this summary. In addition to making this meaningful for Mormons, it is easier to absorb the impact of the loss of all 2997 by focusing on 5 individuals.

  9. Dan on September 11, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    nice post, Kent. It is good to remember these who perished on that day.

  10. Ray on September 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Thank you, Kent. This is touching and important.

    Our need to feel special can be so damaging, as witnessed by the example in comment #4.

  11. Julie M. Smith on September 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Nice post, thanks.

  12. Brad Kramer on September 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    This is fantastic, Kent.

  13. NewlyHousewife on September 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Thank you.

  14. mmiles on September 11, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Thank you. It makes me uncomfortable when people assume and claim Mormons were spared that day. It’s fraught with implications that should make us all uncomfortable.

  15. Kevin Barney on September 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks, Kent. I wasn’t aware of these specific individuals. And this post will be very useful when in the future people inevitably try to resurrect those no Mormons were killed stories.

  16. ji on September 11, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    I have wondered why it is so important for so many to “construct meaning out of the events of September 11th” — I never saw any meaning in it — just another event or tragedy, to be sure, but in my mind I have discerned no purpose, no plan, no meaning — but I take some comfort in knowing that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord Jesus Christ.

  17. Kent Larsen on September 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    JI (15), I think it is a natural human impulse. We try to make sense out of our world, and out of all the events that make up that world. And, we try to find “comfort” in the meaning and beliefs about meaning that we construct. Even calling it “just another event or tragedy” is a kind of meaning that you’ve assigned to it.

    When you say “all things work together for good” you are also saying that you believe there is a meaning to the event, without knowing what that meaning is.

    [BTW, I'm quite not sure I agree about the "for those who love the Lord" part -- unless you mean for their eternal good. And even then a lot depends on what you mean by "good," doesn't it?]

  18. John Taber on September 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    It doesn’t help that initial reports from the Church were that no members were killed, or that all LDS in New York City were safe.

  19. Left Field on September 11, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    My recollection is that initial reports from the church were that they didn’t yet know of any church members killed. But you’re right; people were probably inclined to extrapolate from that.

  20. Kent Larsen on September 11, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Yes, John (17), that was the initial report. I assume they simply asked all the stakes to report, and not everyone in local leadership did their homework. But that report does make me much more skeptical of initial reports that the Church releases.

  21. Alison Moore Smith on September 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Kent, I appreciated hearing about these people. I had read about Sisters Beug and Wahlstrom, but not the other members. Thanks for providing this memorial for them. I think about the survivors and how they are doing, too.

    I’m with jl on the “meaning” issue. To me, 9/11 “means” that some people are evil and will harm other people if they can. End of story.

    There’s a difference, I think, in “finding meaning” and being able to be consoled or reconciled to how things are. And I think there’s a difference between taking a horrendous tragedy and using it to become better people than to assign meaning to the evil act itself.

  22. Cameron N on September 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Good distinction Alison, you put words to my thoughts rather well.

    Kind of like President Hicnkley’s quote that morning: someone along the lines of ‘we live in troubling times. Now let’s get to work.’

  23. Jax on September 11, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Thanks for posting the stories Kent. They should be remembered.

    As for the stories about no Mormons being killed, I think back to the stories I heard about no Jews being killed either and that that was a sign that this was a plot by the Jews …blah, blah, blah. Not that it means anything, but I remember hearing those claims that none of them were injured as a way to accused them. How does that relate to claims that no Mormons were injured?

  24. Mark B. on September 11, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    One minor detail–the Richmond Hill District was renamed the Brooklyn North District in 2004, at the time the Queens Stake was created and the Richmond Hill 3rd Branch was transferred into that stake and became a ward. So, “covered” would be more accurate in your account of Brother Carpio.

    There was, in fact, another man in that branch who, like Brother Carpio, worked at Windows on the World. September 11 was a day off for him, and he was called and asked if he’d come into work that day–but declined, since he already had plans for the day. (He told me the story–this isn’t an invented faith-promoting internet rumor.)

    And, in todays Times there are a few updates from people who were interviewed when it published its “Portraits of Grief”–brief accounts of all who died in the attacks on that day. Among the few updates is a story about Sister Howell–subtitled, appropriately, “Healing Through Service.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/us/sept-11-reckoning/11portraits.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Brady%20Kay%20Howell&st=cse

  25. Sam Brunson on September 11, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    Jax,
    The two claims are unrelated, for at least two reasons: the tellers and the purpose underlying the telling.

    The only people who claimed no Mormons were killed or injured were Mormons. Although we have a stake in Manhattan, we’re not, collectively, big players there (notwithstanding a few very prominent Mormons). Contrast that with those who claimed that no Jewish people were killed or injured; these tellers were, to the best of my knowledge, anti-Semites. Along with the tellers, the claim that no Mormons were killed or injured was a faith-promoting story, intended to evidence our chosenness with God, and how He protects us. The purpose behind the other story was, as you point out, accusatory.

  26. lynn on September 11, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    One additional piece of info. My sister was a BYU intern in Washington D.C. on that date. She did NOT work in New York, but she did have food poisoning, as well as some of the other interns, because of the overflow in the hospitals she had to be driven to Maryland for fluids. So half of the faith promoting story has some validity. It also took my mom all day to find my sister – not knowing she was sick – and since her metro stop was the Pentagon stop my mom was worried but my sister never even made it to the metro anyway.

  27. Kent Larsen on September 11, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Alison (20) wrote: “I had read about Sisters Beug and Wahlstrom, but not the other members.” I dislike it when that happens — to me it shows a bias in coverage of Mormons towards the Utah connection. It irritates me, to be frank.

    “To me, 9/11 “means” that some people are evil and will harm other people if they can. End of story.”

    Gee that seems very simplistic. Where are the people in all this? Where is the grief and shock? Where is the compassion? Where is turning the other cheek?

    To me the simplistic answer gives too many of our fellow citizens an excuse for hate and revenge. I’m not willing to look at things so simply. I’m not saying that we need to endlessly dwell on these events trying to find some hidden meaning — we do need to go on living — but surely there is more to this than simply “evil exists.”

    I do see the distinction between “finding meaning” and being consoled or reconciled. But I don’t think I was trying to get at being consoled or reconciled exactly (although I’m not sure that each of these things can actually be taken apart).

    Cameron N (21), yes, by all means, let’s get to work. But not to the exclusion of finding enough meaning in the event to learn from it.

  28. Ardis E. Parshall on September 11, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    I dislike it when that happens — to me it shows a bias in coverage of Mormons towards the Utah connection. It irritates me, to be frank.

    Be fair. A lot of the “bias” is not bias at all, but results from Utah news outlets, which you wrongly perceive as Mormon sources, covering Utah angles to national/international stories. For example, we hear a lot more here about Utah soldiers, many of whom happen to be LDS, killed in the current wars than we do about soldiers (LDS or otherwise) from elsewhere killed in the same helicopter crashes, and that is as it should be — these outlets are serving a LOCAL need. I presume a lot of Mormons outside of Utah, and especially those like Alison with Utah roots, check the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune and perhaps Utah TV sites for news, and aren’t limiting their reading to the Church News. *By natural and inescapable coincidence* they therefore see a lot more coverage of Utah Mormon events than they do about Mormons elsewhere. It would be odd, certainly unprofessional, even repulsive, if those general Utah news sources covered Mormon stories elsewhere with the same frequency and detail as they cover purely Utah stories, many of which inescapably have Mormon ties. Not recognizing that irritates me.

  29. Th. on September 11, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    .

    Thanks, Kent.

  30. Ken on September 12, 2011 at 1:21 am

    I’m not sure if Seamus O’Neal, who died in the North Tower, was a member of record at the time of the attacks or not, but depending on how you define your terms, he has the interesting distinction of being the only LGBT Mormon killed on 9/11.

  31. ClaireM on September 12, 2011 at 1:28 am

    I didn’t check to see who had written this post but by the time I got the end I knew it had to be Kent Larson. Thank you for always finding the ‘hidden’ stories.

  32. ExDNCE on September 12, 2011 at 1:43 am

    Ardis has it exactly right.

    Kent, thanks for debunking this myth and giving us these short profiles.

  33. Kent Larsen on September 12, 2011 at 4:45 am

    Ardis (27), you are right. The Utah news outlets should show a bias towards Utah angles. I agree. And part of my perception lies in the problem that we don’t have much in the way of really Mormon news outlets.

    Unfortunately, however, the LDS Church News and the “Mormon” Times and LDS Living and Meridian Magazine generally reflect this bias also — perhaps because they all get their news mainly from the Deseret News and other Utah news sources.

    Ah well, as I said, it seems like a bias TO ME. I don’t know that there is any intention behind it.

  34. Kent Larsen on September 12, 2011 at 4:56 am

    Ken (29), THANK YOU!! Seamus Oneal (that’s how the New York Times’ Profile has it — http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/us/sept-11-reckoning/portraits-of-grief.html#/portraits-of-grief/O/1521) was indeed Mormon, but, as I understand it, had left the Church. He was living with his partner, Tom Miller, at the time he died.

    I had remembered him, Ken, but didn’t include him because, as I understand it, he no longer considered himself Mormon. But the New York Times profile makes the Mormon connection very clear.

  35. Anonymous on September 12, 2011 at 6:49 am

    Kent 26, Yes “To me 9/11 means that some people are evil and will harm other people if they can, end of story” Simplistic and takes 9/11 in isolation, not in context.

    Assuming Bin Ladin developed and carried through the 9/11 and is the evil referred to, his motives (to him) were that America had to be brought to its senses. That a few americans had to suffer so that a greater good be accomplished. He wanted the plight of the Palistinians to be addressed. He believed America could bring Israel to heel and free the palistinian people. He was an example of most of the things we claim to believe- family man, modest, used his time and money in Gods service.

    He was an engineer and whether he visualised the collapse of the towers or not we don’t know, but as an engineering exercise it was incredibly successful. I suspect he was surprised by the result.

    Sadly it did not achieve it’s goal. America has not used it’s power over Israel (financial) as well as influence to free Palestine. So the lives were sacrificed in vain.

    As to whether Bin Ladin was more evil in killing 3000 Americans than the US response in killing hundreds of thousands of Arabs/Muslems, depends on whether you are an American or arab/Muslem.

    Considering one lives by a code of retribution (an eye for an eye) and the other claims to be a christian nation (love your enemy) who is true to its beliefs and who is not? Where is the greater evil?

    Yes we can remember the dead and be concerned about terrorism, but if we were to be more understanding perhaps we could prevent such disasters. The war that followed has created more terrorists and nothing has improved for the Palistinians. America is still hated.

  36. Jax on September 12, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Sam,

    I know the claims are unrelated. I just think it odd that the same claim can be made by LDS people as a sign of being “chosen” and that other make the same claim about Jews to show they are evil or conspiratorial. That I thought it odd was all I was really try to say.

  37. Kent Larsen on September 12, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Anonymous (34), I think you have explored some of the reasons why 9/11 is NOT as simplistic as Allison and others suggest. In case its not clear, my comments in (26) were trying to say that it is NOT so simple.

    I DO think Al Queda’s actions are evil. But as I understand of some of their motivations, I am uncomfortable with the parallels between their views and those of many (if not most) major religions. As I understand it, Al Queda objects to the evil that the West has brought into the world in its culture — the permissiveness and allowance for sin that even leaders of our own Church preach against.

    That, of course, does NOT justify the actions of Al Queda or of any terrorist. We preach that the only way to counter these is by persuasion and democratic means. So, I think the meaning we construct from 9/11 MUST include some expression of that principle.

    It is a sad fact, however, that in the name of security we seem to be very willing to leave persuasion and perhaps even some democratic tools by the way.

  38. ji on September 12, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Well, some persons believe there is some deep meaning behind 9/11, and others think it was just a terrible act by terrible men. I am of the latter persuasion (see no. 15). As Paul suggested regarding another difference of opinion a long time ago, let every person be fully persuaded in his or her own mind.

    But if I am wrong, and really should discern some great meaning behind 9/11, then must I also see the meaning behind every other crime that occurs in the country? Every murder, rape, burglary, arson, theft? Other than the scale of the crime (and the really excellent planning and execution), to me it is another crime. Some things have no meaning at all.

    Even so, I do believe that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord Jesus Christ.

  39. Kent Larsen on September 12, 2011 at 10:55 am

    JI, I think you misunderstand. Its not that there IS any deep meaning behind 9/11. Its the meaning we give it. I’m not sure that any particular meaning or meanings is the single, correlated and approved TRUTH.

    BTW, I think you said the same thing in (15). Did you not understand my response? If you did, why did you say it again? If not, why not ask questions? Let me try to make what I’m saying clear:

    BUT, we do need to figure out how to react to an event, and we start that by figuring out what we believe the event means — by constructing its meaning.

    You can, of course, assign an event whatever meaning you like. But, I think it is very, very difficult to learn anything without trying to figure out what it might mean. FWIW, when you say that it is “just another crime” you have assigned it a meaning.

    And, when you say “I do believe that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord Jesus Christ” you are also saying that you do believe that the event has some meaning — you say that it somehow has a “good” meaning or purpose “for those who love the Lord.”

    Personally, I like that meaning (but I might put it differently). But, it IS a meaning.

  40. AR on September 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Why is no one discussing the elephant in the room?

    What about the hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters that have been slaughtered through indirect and direct action on our part as a nation.

    Does no one recognize that future members of the church in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan will have to get over their hatred of an invading country that spawned our religion before they accept the Gospel?

  41. Bryan on September 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    AR #30

    I’m going to say that no one is discussing that because this thread is about what happened on 9/11, not the wars.

  42. Bryan on September 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    @ AR #39, not 30. Who put the 0 and 9 next to each other on the keyboard!

  43. Raymond Takashi Swenson on September 12, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Elizabeth Howell was also the person assigned to run the Olympic Torch into the White House and hand it to President Bush, just a few months after the attacks.

    Elder Lance Wickman was in northern Virginia on Church business on 9/11, and was in a cab passing the Pentagon when he saw the plane nose in and hit the building. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam, so has substantial credibility in my mind as an observer of such events.

    It is sad that some politically conservative LDS have gotten involved with the conspiracy theories, such as those denying that a plane hit the Pentagon.

  44. Kent Larsen on September 12, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Thank you, Bryan. That is exactly right. But, AR (39), I do think that your comment “Does no one recognize that future members of the church in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan will have to get over their hatred of an invading country that spawned our religion before they accept the Gospel?” is interesting and would be something to discuss on another post.

  45. Alison Moore Smith on September 12, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Kent #26:

    I dislike it when that happens — to me it shows a bias in coverage of Mormons towards the Utah connection. It irritates me, to be frank.

    Well, I LIVE in Utah. So having the UTAH news report about UTAHNS involved in the incident rather makes sense. Doesn’t it? (Ah, what Ardis said.)

    Where are the people in all this? Where is the grief and shock? Where is the compassion? Where is turning the other cheek?

    The people, the grief and shock, the compassion, the turning the other cheek aren’t produced (for me at least) in attaching a “meaning” to evil people driving planes full of people into buildings full of people.

    When my father-in-law was killed in a car accident by a semi-truck driver who was drowsy and doctoring his books, we experienced grief and shock, we tried to help my mother-in-law in any way we could, we didn’t say terrible things to or about the driver. There were some positive things that came from it, like my mother-in-law becoming more independent and willing to make decisions. There were also a few spiritual experiences that occurred.

    Those facts didn’t give the accident a special “meaning” to anyone in the family that I know of. The guy wanted to make extra money, running some extra hauls. He didn’t sleep as much as required by law and tried to make his log look like he did so he wouldn’t get in trouble. It was a fatal mistake. We’ve tried to deal with the consequences the best we can.

    To me the simplistic answer gives too many of our fellow citizens an excuse for hate and revenge.

    Sure. And finding “meaning” can as well.

    Too often, I think, we make things complicated and justify ourselves into (or out of) behaviors when the answers are pretty simple. :)

    I’m not willing to look at things so simply.

    Occam’s razor and all that. :)

    Kent, I’m not clear what “meanings” you are referring to in the OP that “leave out the people” so I can’t comment on whether or not I agree that the other meanings are incomplete. I cannot ever recall hearing a story about 9-11 that did NOT include “the people.” Either the perpetrators, the victims, or the heroes that either died or risked their lives to save as many as possible. Usually all three.

    Perhaps if you tell us what YOU think the meaning is (or what the meaning is to YOU), it will be helpful. But I think you need to be open to the idea that the meaning some others have derived from this (“evil exists”) might be just as acceptable an answer as yours.

    But not to the exclusion of finding enough meaning in the event to learn from it.

    Like I said above, I don’t think you need to “find meaning” in an evil act in order to learn from it. You might need to gain strength, find the power to forgive, learn to trust, use an eternal perspective, etc. I think those things are important INDEPENDENT of what the act might be. They aren’t about any particular act of evil — or what it means — they are about becoming like Christ.

    In any event, I enjoyed hearing about the other LDS victims. I hope their families are doing well now.

  46. Chris on September 12, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Good to have this out there anyway, but you should know and point out that the person you cite as being a member making this claim, is actually a conspiracy theorist, former member of the church going by, FrmrLDSBishop (or something) who also said things like, “…you’re the broken record song/dance script practice by blind obedient Mormons. The Internet proves that President Monson … makes lots of…. false promises to the general public.”

    He says a few other conspiracy crank thinks like referring to 9/11 being inside job. From the tone of his post, it is either sarcasm, scorning people who actually believe no LDS were harmed, or trying to tie the LDS into a conspiracy.

  47. Kent Larsen on September 12, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Allison (44) wrote:

    having the UTAH news report about UTAHNS involved in the incident rather makes sense. Doesn’t it?

    Except when its things like Mormon Times or the LDS Church News.

    Those facts didn’t give the accident a special “meaning” to anyone in the family that I know of.

    Perhaps you should re-read your own description of the event. You include the fact that the driver “was drowsy and doctoring his books” and say you “didn’t say terrible things to or about the driver” and add that “there were some positive things that came from it” and that “There were also a few spiritual experiences that occurred.” etc.

    Clearly you’ve constructed a story and meaning around this incident. You haven’t forgotten it, you apparently believe the driver was in the wrong, but that you have treated him well in spite of it. And you have found a spiritual dimension to the incident as well.

    I’m NOT suggesting that those things aren’t real, concrete parts of the event. I AM saying that these are all elements to the meaning you’ve found in it. If they weren’t you wouldn’t mention them.

    I’m not sure why you are so reticent to think that you have constructed some meaning for 9/11. Everything you have said about it shows the meaning you have found. If it didn’t mean something to you, why would you even comment here?

    Humans naturally try to assign or construct meaning from the significant (and most insignificant) events in our lives. Its part of what we do, how our brains function. To put it simply, I can’t see how any person who witnessed or has knowledge of an event can avoid finding some meaning or constructing some understanding of the event. I don’t think it is possible (but then, I’m no psychologist/psychiatrist/neurologist).

    Too often, I think, we make things complicated and justify ourselves into (or out of) behaviors when the answers are pretty simple.

    Perhaps. In contrast, I think that people tend to try to simplify things in order to reduce the effort in understanding them and reduce the dissonance when they don’t make sense.

    If you think that rain simply falls from the sky randomly, without any other forces influencing when and how, then you have a simple, but incomplete idea of rain, don’t you?

    Perhaps if you tell us what YOU think the meaning is (or what the meaning is to YOU), it will be helpful.

    Hmmm. What my understanding is and what meaning I have constructed about 9/11 isn’t really the point of the post, and I fear that I may be accused (as I have been on another blog) of telling people how they should think and what they should do. I don’t really want to do that.

    The suggestion also pre-supposes that I will be able to do that! Perhaps next year I can write a post about what 9/11 means to me or something.

    I don’t think you need to “find meaning” in an evil act in order to learn from it.

    As I’ve tried to explain above, you probably already have found meaning in every evil act you know about, and the meaning you’ve found has likely and will continue to change. The “eternal perspective” you are thinking of comes, I believe, precisely from finding meaning in the events of our lives and from the knowledge and inspiration we’re given to help in forming those meanings. With enough knowledge and revelation, we will, I think, be able to form a correct and well-developed meaning and understanding of each event we have experienced or known.

  48. john f. on September 13, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Wonderful post Kent.

    RTS, I didn’t know that Lance Wickman witnessed the plane hitting the Pentagon. Is that documented somewhere? If so, it should definitely put these ridiculous conspiracy theories about 9/11 being an inside job to rest for those Mormons who have a weakness for such things.

  49. Emily O on September 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    MaryAnne Wahlstrom is my third cousin. She played at my wedding reception which was held at her parent’s home. Her father was son to the above mentioned Mary Alice Wahlstrom. I didn’t know Mary personally. My relatives in Kaysville miss her terribly. Thanks for letting us all know a little more about the people who were lost to us on that day.

  50. Mike H. on September 16, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    The Utah news outlets should show a bias towards Utah angles.

    That tends to happen all over. The Weather Channel often talks about Atlanta’s weather, where they have their studios, but the Rockies & West often get overlooked, unless something really big happens.

    I’m also sick of the conspiracy ideas that are going on & on about 9/11. I’ve seen a picture of airliner parts on the Pentagon grounds after the attack, but that still is rejected, so I suspect the conspiracy likers will ignore Lance Wickman’s account.