Some of the first spiritual readings of the meaning of September 11 were done on the Internet. The medium offered religious leaders and lay people alike an immediate way to share feelings, reflections, and prayers on an unprecedented scale. One of the places where this happened was the multifaith website on spirituality and religion, Beliefnet, where in the days following the attacks community boards were filled with heartfelt reactions, and many prayer circles were established. Meanwhile, Beliefnet's content editors solicited articles and interviews from spiritual leaders of all faiths.
This book collects many of those pieces and also reprints dated comments from the discussion boards in running banners at the bottom of the pages. The first chapter, "A Call to Action The Spiritual Challenge," illustrates the diversity of religious backgrounds maintained throughout the book. In an interview, Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu speaks eloquently about the need for forgiveness. Asked what he would say to Osama bin Laden and to President Bush, he comes up with the same advice: "Remember you are a child of God, and behave like one."
Several teachers reveal how the attitudes and practices of their tradition can be applied in the face of horrible events and tremendous challenges. Kabir Helminski, shaikh of the Mevlevi Order of Sufis, practices presence, not turning away from horror or evil, vowing to apply love as the solution to problems, to face the truth, and to always remember God. Thich Nhat Hanh says that given an opportunity to meet with Osama bin Laden, the first thing he would do is listen: "I would try to understand why he had acted in that cruel way. I would try to understand all of the suffering that had led him to violence. It might not be easy to listen in that way, so I would have to remain calm and lucid." Rabbi Michael Lerner calls for a period of repentance and atonement, "a turn in direction of our society at every level, a return to the most basic biblical ideal: that every human life is sacred."
Chapter heads include "Where Was God?", "Seeds of Grace," "Evil and the Enemy," "The Question of Islam," "The Desire for Justice," "Teachings and Traditions," "Fear and Vulnerability," "Repentance," and "From the Ashes." An interesting series asks "What Would Jesus Do?" by David P. Gushee, "What Would Buddha Do" by Lama Surya Das, “What Would the Goddess Do" by Starhawk, and "What Would Moses Do?" by Joshua Wolf Shenk. This collection of essays, interviews, poems, and prayers covers a moment in history with timeless wisdom.