"If it's not love, then it's the bomb that will bring us together"

The ever-dear Suburban Blight made me think, in putting me in her Cul-de-Sac, that though this is a special purpose blog, it needn’t be so serious and dull. (But bless her heart, while I sometimes feel like a YR here in Babylon-on-the-Potomac, she can still make me look like a lefty and realize I like being inside the Beltway.)

When we first met, at the University of Georgia‘s Demosthenian Society I may have been serious, but not nearly so dull.

Ah, where is the lad who had a hissy fit/debate (with one of SB’s former roommates, and fellow Demosthenian) over whether the United States should recognize Lithuanian sovereignty? (I was pro; she thought it unwise to agitate the Soviets. Seems I got the last laugh on that, and still smile thinly when I walk to the store, pass the Lithuanian embassy.)

To continue the flashback to the late 80s: This morning, before getting to work, I decided to partition my hard drive, and install Mandrake Linux. Listening to the Smiths, from which the title of this entry comes.

So back to the mission of this blog, and something that nobody talks about, but I suspect has affected my vocation, and that of others about the same age (34).

If you’ve been waiting for the point, it’s here.

Did you think you’d survive to adulthood, or, perhaps, did you think you were going to die in a nuclear apocalypse? Most of my adolescence, I was convinced we were doomed. An echo of that is my keen awareness that the 9/11 anniversary is coming.

In 2001, when the events really happened, I was a mess.
In 2002, I was just tired of it.
In 2003, I have enough distance to realize it really still bothers me, and touches on old feelings.

Then as now, I sometimes refer to my church being “within the vaporization zone” as it is within a close walk to the White House, and I hate feeling like that.

6 Replies to “"If it's not love, then it's the bomb that will bring us together"”

  1. I’m just a few years older than you, but I too was convinced that we were all going to die. A fatalist before the age of twelve, I still feel surprised to be an adult, to have kids of my own, (that are twelve themselves and convinced they will live forever)and certainly to find myself a minister–a calling that requires one to remain hopeful.

    It’s a strange feeling and I’ve often wondered if the apathy that seems to be the hallmark of this generation simply comes from the fact that we really didn’t think we’d live long enough to vote, let alone change the world.

    PS–about the picture: surely there’s a new wedding photo hanging around somewhere?!

  2. -The looming anniversary of 9/11 also brings up some strange spiritual conjunctions for me. I’m 29, and remember in 4th grade having to write an essay about something that sacred me. Much to my dear teacher’s dismay, I and EVERY other child in my fourth grade class at Dublin Elementary (Union Lake, MI) wrote that they were scared of nuclear war.

    Today I find myself finishing seminary and pastoring a rural church. But the anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentegon attacks make me think of apocalyptic theology, which I have never agreed with. And so I find myself praying to a God who sometimes seems deaf, about a humanity that often seems depraved. And I can’t stand any of those theologies about God or humanity (God is dead, and humanity is inherently wicked?). But what am I left to do. Watch and pray, and resist the demons of the world’s end? Mass trauma (World War I or 9/11) takes a toll on liberal Christians. Optimism about God or humanity becomes hard to maintain in the wilderness.

  3. This feeling of surprising survival is not limited to just the 30-something crowd. I recall vividly watching my mother point on the map to Atlanta, where we lived, and Cuba, where the missiles were that could kill us in less time than it would take for us to know they were coming. I remember Civil Defense warning sirens every Wednesday at noon and wondering if the “enemy” knew that if they attacked at noon, no one would get a warning. (Little did I imagine that decades later, I’d spend 4 wonderful years living in post-Communist Moscow.)

    Later, I watched musician friends in their 20s spiral into serious drug use and alcoholism. Today I marvel that they’ve survived into their 50s and evolved so that I now can find their bands on the Internet.

    What I didn’t expect was the hushed apocalypse of AIDS, nor the number of pre-55 cancer deaths among people I know.

    The unspoken corollary to survival is the issue of how did we, we particular individuals, survive. Were we more worthy in some way? Just lucky? Why did Bob or Carol or Patrick or (fill in your friend’s name) not survive, when we did?

  4. Born in ’65 I never felt we’d be obliterated in a nuclear war. Even as a boy living in Albuquerque New Mexico, walking distance from the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the free world I didn’t worry about it.

    I always felt I’d survive a nuclear war. I knew what all the targets were and often I lived near them, but some how I always thought I’d be out of town then.

    I was young and naive.

    After 9/11 I figured out how far the center of Houston was from my home and if a 1KT nuke went off what effect that would have on my house. And I still think we’re unlikely to destroy ourselves on a mass scale.

    Call me old and naive.

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