10Strangers with a Strange God

On September 11, 2001—the very day irony was said to have died—Miroslav Volf was addressing a United Nations prayer breakfast on the subject of reconciliation in a world of conflict.

He began his talk by quoting a poem about the Holocaust: Paul Celan’s “Death Fugue.” As he read the line “we shovel a grave in the air,” neither he nor his listeners knew that two planes had just crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center, less than five miles away. And as Volf reminded his listeners of distant places where “rivers of blood have flowed and mountains of corpses have grown,” word of the terror unleashed in Lower Manhattan was just beginning to filter through the room. Almost as soon as he finished his remarks, ...

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