Pennywise chat scheduled and essay by Jim Lindberg posted

This Friday, September 13th at 3:30 pm (PST) Fletcher from Pennywise will be stopping by the "Epi-Center" chat room. Drop by and ask him any questions you may have about the band.

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Also, in recognition of the events of last September 11th, Jim Lindberg has drafted a new essay with his thoughts on the world at present; check it out below-

Bless America?

In his Pulitzer Prize winning book, "The Metaphysical Club," Louis Menand says that all the lessons Oliver Wendell Holmes learned from his experiences in civil war, of seeing his friends killed and a nation ripped apart, could be reduced to one sentence; "It is that certitude leads to violence." When people have an unshakable conviction that what they believe to be true and right, without qualification or openness to debate, they will eventually confront another group of people who hold the opposite view and the inevitable result will always be bloodshed. Though Holmes fought for the union side, he eventually found that even when you believe yourself to be on the higher ground morally, the clash that comes from conflicting ideologies will often produce even greater horrors.

On the anniversary of the tragic events of September 11th, people will be left with the agonizing question of why this terrible event occurred. Some will point to the gulf war, others to the Arab-Israeli conflict in the middle east and the U.S. support for Israel, even more will say there can be no clear answer. Much like Oliver Wendell Holmes' summation of the Civil War, it seems clear that this was the inevitable first major collision of the world's prevailing belief systems in the modern age. In the late 1800s the war was fought in our country over the issue of slavery and succession from the union, in Vietnam it was the spread of political and economic ideologies. Now the conflict arises from the clash of our planet's most fundamental, yet mutually exclusive belief systems.

Witnessing then the events of September 11th was even more difficult for the silent masses of agnostics than it was for the members of the world's established religions. Muslims, Christians and Jews believe in a whole passion play of good vs. evil, heaven and hell, God vs. Satan, and that in some all knowing way God has a purpose and a plan, and that violence, suffering and sorrow must all be a part of it. They can witness these events secure in the knowledge that the all-powerful being that protects them and listens to their prayers must in some way have a reason for allowing this kind of tragedy.

Muslim extremists all over the globe respond to the call for jihad against the infidels, church going Americans proselytize on the Internet, on bumper stickers and from the white house as we ask for God's blessing for unleashing our massive war machine. We pray that God will smite our enemies who have made the fatal mistake of believing as we do in the belief system that has been passed down for generations as the un-challengeable and supreme truth. The ideologically indistinguishable teachings of the Bible, Koran and Torah are the fabric of our lives growing up, the center of our universe philosophically and spiritually. Unfortunately, the first law or commandment of all these religions is that ours is the one true God and there are no others before Him. Accordingly, we hold this intransigent belief so dearly that any challenge to our belief system can produce a homicidal, even suicidal, response to defend it. The terrorists who crashed those planes into those towers were just as assured of their entrance into heaven as Billy Graham will be on his own day of reckoning.

So for the masses of people who admit to not having all the answers when it comes to the big questions of the universe, sitting on the sidelines and watching as the faithful combatants wreak havoc on the world, the heartache of having to share the planet with the maniacally self-righteous has been a constant source of despair when you consider the seemingly infinite number of lives wasted on our own arrogance to force our beliefs on one another. The atrocities of September 11th were the latest in a long history of battles where our "certitude led to violence." The question is, when will the silent millions of those who hold the more rational belief that no one really has all the answers, convince those who think they do, that they should practice what they preach, and entertain the idea of tolerance of opposing views, and admit that we really can't be certain of anything, especially who God is? My heart goes out to the victims and their families, and to us for having witnessed it.

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