Father Mychal Judge
November 8, 2001 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Father Mychal Judge was the chaplain of NYFD, killed on 9/11. Read a little about him. (via andrewsullivan)
posted by marknau (24 comments total)
Very touching story. Thanks for the link. You know, I've been meaning to point MeFi'ers to the "Portraits of Grief" in the New York Times. (The link is on the right margin of the front page. It opens a new window that cannot be linked to, as far as I can tell.) These stories ("Profiles: Among the Missing") are touching and hearbreaking. I try to read them every day and use them as a reminder to treasure each day and live a good life.
posted by msacheson at 1:31 PM on November 8, 2001

I remember seeing that picture, the one on the second page, of the firefighters carrying him out. It was one of the first pictures from September 11th that stuck with me... somehow it makes me feel better to know the story that accompanied the image. Beautiful man, beautiful life. Thanks for sharing.
posted by kittyb at 1:36 PM on November 8, 2001

I recently told someone that there are probably 50,000 stories of survival and escape from the WTC and environs that day, and I can't imagine I've heard even 500 of them.

Conversely, the Times's commitment to 200-word obituaries for each and every one of the victims is admirable and useful -- as msacheson notes, they make good therapy. The sad part of those is that, assuming 3000 died, at 15 obits a day, they will run every single day for seven months.
posted by dhartung at 1:37 PM on November 8, 2001

I still have trouble grasping the enormity of what happened 9/11. Three thousand dead.

posted by luser at 2:15 PM on November 8, 2001

I would like to hear from the atheists and anti-theists of this board. What do you make of this man? Was he intellectually flawed because of his belief? Was he a deluded man who followed his fantasy to the end and died believing in a lie?

How do some come to terms with your personal belief that religion is a bad thing when it a man such as Fr. Judge embraced it so openly and helped so many?

It was asked awhile ago Why did it happen and where was god? . How does this fit?

I honestly want to know because I seem to be having a Crisis of Faith.
posted by Dagobert at 2:25 PM on November 8, 2001

luser, I know what you mean. That's why I try to take the stories one-by-one. What really strikes me, though, is when I read a story like marknau's link about Father Mychal Judge, I realize that there are approx. three thousand of these stories. ::gulp:: indeed.
posted by msacheson at 2:28 PM on November 8, 2001

Dagobert, I would classify myself as an agnostic Catholic. I believe God and religion to be the answer some find to their questions. Me, I find my answers in science and personal, earthly relationships with family and friends. Yet, I don't dismiss each person's interpretation of religion. It's what you make it, and what you need it to be. Father Judge seemed to use his beliefs to ease the troubles of others and believe in ultimate compassion for all.
posted by msacheson at 2:33 PM on November 8, 2001

Mychal Judges death was a major topic here at the time of the tragedy - he was known here as well, and the media did some articles on him.

Sounds like an amazing guy...the definition of a Christian - non judgemental, caring, kind...
posted by tomcosgrave at 3:20 PM on November 8, 2001

Dagobert, I hear ya, I had a bit of a spiritual freakout myself these last couple months.

What I always admired about Mychal here was that while he believed in the tenets of his Church, he wasn't bound by twisted interpretations of those tenets. He made compromises frequently, but only subjugated ideals or desires for the ability to be of greater service to other people, which is so-far the only time-tested treatment for alcoholism, and no doubt unhappiness in general.

What does faith serve after a crisis? Only perhaps the reduction of fear, which turns out to be well worth it. So my answer has been something I think Mychal would have approved of: don't sweat it, believe in something and don't worry too much about what it is, and most importantly, help someone else, regardless of faith or lack thereof, sexuality, and how different you might think they are from you.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 3:57 PM on November 8, 2001

Deb Price writes that: "At this painful, precious moment in history, it's easier to see one another's shared humanity." Looking at partisan politics, she continues: "Republican responses to Sept. 11 are a powerful lens through which to see the GOP's continuing evolution on gay civil rights. Similarly, the tragedy has given Republican leaders a new lens through which to more clearly see those of us who're gay as real people with real families and real needs." Real people, gay people, like Father Mychal Judge.
posted by Carol Anne at 4:04 PM on November 8, 2001

Dagobert: I haven't entirely figured out if there is a God or not but I would think, in the Xtian worldview, that, since death is only the beginning of a new form of existence, events such as 9/11 are basically irrelevant to God. Sure, people are suffering now, but, in the eternal view of things, such suffering lasts for only a short time and then a new phase of existence begins.
posted by pandaharma at 5:17 PM on November 8, 2001

pandaharma, good thing. Now I don't feel so bad for killing all those children!
posted by Doug at 6:31 PM on November 8, 2001

How do some come to terms with your personal belief that religion is a bad thing when it a man such as Fr. Judge embraced it so openly and helped so many?

Dagobert, I would suggest that he may have been a genuinely good man, and in a world without God would still have been a genuinely good man.
posted by rodii at 6:44 PM on November 8, 2001

Getting rather off topic:

Doug: If you want to continue Xtian logic to its rather nihilistic end, you could argue that a mass murderer who specialized in children younger than the age of accountability (less than 7 or 8 yrs of age) was doing a good thing. He would be taking them out of this dreadful (by Xtian standards) world and sending them to a far, far better place.

Which is why I never understood why some Xtians are so very militantly pro-life. If the unborn child is going straight to heaven, then why worry about their rapid exit from this world?
posted by pandaharma at 6:48 PM on November 8, 2001

Because they don't give a shit about the unborn child, pandaharma, they want to control the woman who bears it. Oops, I mean, they want to prevent a Christian woman from murdering her child and going to hell.
posted by megnut at 9:41 PM on November 8, 2001

I would imagine the actual reason is that they believe the creator of the universe gave them 10 commandments, the first of which is to not kill. Regardless of how wonderful the afterlife is (and I don't even believe all sects of Christianity do believe that all killed babies would go to Heaven) they still have that rule. So I can understand a Christian being pro-life. Just can't see someone being a Christian.
The argument you raise is interesting, pandaharma. If God exists, why would he particularly care about buildings dropping on people. I suppose that does help a lot of people deal with events like 9-11. But, I still say, if he's up there, he's a big asshole for letting it happen.
posted by Doug at 10:11 PM on November 8, 2001

Was he a deluded man who followed his fantasy to the end and died believing in a lie?

I would say yes, absolutely.

Doesn't mean he wasn't a nice guy who accomplished good things.
posted by rushmc at 10:13 PM on November 8, 2001

But, I still say, if he's up there, he's a big asshole for letting it happen.

I am not a rat living in a cage, to be protected by my master. Bad things happening vs. God's existence is an old conundrum. C.S.Lewis's "Mere Christianity" is an excellent starting point for understanding the thoughtful Christian's point of view.

they don't give a shit about the unborn child, pandaharma, they want to control the woman who bears it

I particularly recommend it to people who understand the other side's point of view so poorly that they must resort to arguing against straw-men.
posted by marknau at 11:11 PM on November 8, 2001

Mark, I'm going to read that book. I hope it can give me some insight into the Christian mind. Thanks for the suggestion.
Although, lemme just say, if I were a Christian, and a plane was coming at me, first thing I'd be doing is asking my master to protect me. I'll be a rat in a cage, just keep the steal melting fireballs away from me.
posted by Doug at 11:37 PM on November 8, 2001

STEEL, sorry. It's a rare day when I correct my horrendous spelling on MeFi. Then again, I just agreed to read some weird Christian book.
posted by Doug at 11:39 PM on November 8, 2001

Does this mean I have to rewrite this now that we've learned it was just a rumor that Father Mike died performing last rites? That bites.

The following is a paraphrase from a scene on some unnamed Old Time Radio program I once heard.

This guy dies and his wife mourns him. Instead of just moving on with her life, she mourns him for years and years and can't have a relationship with any other man cuz whenever she does she compares the guy to her dead husband, which tends to turn a guy off when women do that. She doesn't stop thinking about him and at first the guy who is dead is kinda amused and it sorta warms his heart, but after awhile it just annoys him cuz like, he's dead right? He doesn't care. He's in heaven now but whenever she cries out to him on Earth, he hears it and it just bugs him.

So he goes to talk to God, and God's busy paying attention to this little star in the sky that's blinking out. He's trying to figure how to fix that, and this guy walks up to God and tells him his problem and God's like, "so?" Then God excuses Himself cuz he has to go fix that star.

Eventually the guy goes to his wife as a ghost, and tells her in as nice and polite a way as he can to just bugger off. He's dating some babe in heaven now named Diana who used to be a goddess in Greece or something and he really can't be bothered by her anymore. This ticks her off enough to where she gets mad at her dead husband and forgets him and calls up some guy named Herbie and everybody dies happily ever after.

I bring up that weird story to say this: whether you believe in a supreme force or not I don't care. Believe whatever works for you that's what makes humanity so neat. For me, there is a God, but it's a real big universe and He was really into us at first, several thousand years ago, but we just kept ticking Him off and He got bored. So He did Adam and Eve and he did the thing with Moses and the Bush. Then He tried to help out David but David turned into a jerkwad. And Solomon was just this morose, arrogant buntcake. By the time the Romans were in power, and the Pharisees turned into a cross between a lobby special interest group and a coffee clatch, God just hung out with Mary for awhile, Jesus showed up, JC got sacrificed and God was like, "I agree with Pilate. I wash my hands of you losers." Then God tried to talk to Mohammed but that guy was so full of himself too.

And there was this star out there somewhere blinking out and God figured maybe that little star out there might need more help than we do. God did pretty much all He could do for this pale blue dot in space. He still checks in on us every once in awhile, but I think he chalks us up to a successful failure. We got the free will thing like He wanted, but we're doing all the wrong crap with it. So God tunes in every once in awhile. We're like a sitcom for God, but our ratings aren't so good cuz there's so many other better stars out there in the sky.

So believe in God or don't believe in God. I don't think He really minds anymore either way. I mean He cares, to a degree, but it's a big universe out there. Just don't worship him all the time cuz He doesn't spend all His time on us and He didn't do the free will thing just to have people mindlessly following Him around, and don't piss Him off too much cuz He never did anything bad to you so it's just uncool to be a butthead to God.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:12 AM on November 9, 2001

If I had faith, my faith in an eternal all-powerful God would not be shaken in the least by 9/11.

I would think, if you were a Christian / Muslim / practicing Jew, that you would by necessity have to take the long view. Your own existence and the existence of those you know and love, the existence of your nation or any other group important to you, even the continued existence of the earth, are worth nothing in the face of eternity and in the face of an all-powerful God who has vowed to take care of you and other followers.

I would think a true person of faith would transcend earthly affairs and realize things like the US vs. Taliban wars have about as much eternal significance as the Diamondbacks vs. the Yankees. Sure, people will get caught up in the subjective experience of the moment but why do so few xtians ever step back and realize the ultimate meaningless of anything mankind says, does, or suffers through?
posted by pandaharma at 12:22 AM on November 9, 2001

I believe if there is a God this is all he cares about:

"love for your fellow man" thanks Zach

I can't imagine a God that would particularly care what he was called or even how literally the stories about his doings were believed. That seems too self-centered for a God.

I believe if there isn't a God, that love for our fellow men is all we should care about. I don't particularly care what someone believes; it seems arrogant to be judging others for that when I have no proof either way, and it certainly doesn't make me a better person. But people who are Good, just plain Good, are god-like in my eyes. I cherish them, and aspire to act as kindly as them, regardless of their religion or lack thereof.
posted by dness2 at 12:58 AM on November 9, 2001

Whether one believes in God or not, I can imagine no other goal more important than love for one's fellow human beings on this planet.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:03 PM on November 9, 2001

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