Pittsburgh, PA
April 23, 2018
    News           Sports           Lifestyle           Classifieds           About Us
A & E
Tv Listings
The Dining Guide
Headlines by E-mail
Home >  A & E >  TV/Radio Printer-friendly versionE-mail this story
'Frontline' examines faith and 9/11 horrors

Sunday, September 01, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

The scab that's covered the nation's wounds from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 is about to be ripped off for the one-year anniversary.

Remembrances will be ubiquitous in print and especially on television, where just about every network - broadcast and cable - intends to commemorate the day in some way.

TV Review
"Frontline: Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero"
When:9 p.m. Tuesday and 8 p.m. Sept. 11 on WQED.
Narrator: Kathryn Walker.

CNN has already aired some programs, and this week PBS's "Frontline" airs its own reaction piece, the two-hour "Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero."

Produced by Helen Whitney, the program looks at how that day affected people's beliefs. It opens with the all-too-familiar images of planes crashing into the Twin Towers, images of people jumping to their deaths and the voices of people posing difficult questions.

"How could God be in the horror I saw?"

"What kind of God is this?"

"Being trapped in that building, was there any God with them?"

"Religion drove those planes into those buildings."

It's a thought-provoking program, albeit one that's overly long. Broken into segments, a section titled "The Face of Evil" features ponderous pointy-heads pontificating as the show goes off on a tangent and away from its focus.

Helping keep the program on track are people who lost loved ones and religious leaders of every stripe. Their reactions vary. An Episcopal priest appears to have serious doubts about his vocation and his God. A man whose son was killed does not.

"I haven't questioned [God]," Bernie Heeran says. "He had nothing to do with this. A lot more people could have been killed. He was fighting evil that day, like he does every day. God is always around."

Tim Lynston knew 30 people who died. He's yelled at God and cursed his name since Sept. 11.

"I look at Him now as a barbarian, and I probably will, and it's a sad situation," Lynston says. "I think I am a good Christian, but I have a different view and image of Him now, and I can't replace it with the old image."

Several of the religious leaders featured in the program were on hand at a PBS press conference last month. The Rev. Lorenzo Albacete of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of New York said his mostly Hispanic congregation remained steadfast in their faith.

"There was great sorrow, shock and a repulsion at what happened, but there was no questioning of their faith because it was another challenge that their faith had to cope with," he said. "Faith was a response to this, not a way of grasping at ultimate explanations."

Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl, a University of California,Los Angeles professor of Islamic Law, said his concern is about how people make distinctions.

"There are, unfortunately, a large percentage of individuals who will say 9-11 was immoral, but who cannot see how we got there, what manufactured someone like bin Laden," he said. "My battle is not with the little fringe elements of those who sit around bin Laden and worship at his feet, because most of them are unstable and psychotic. My battle is with the thousands, if not millions, who want to see murder in shades of gray, rather than as black and white."

Marian Fontana lost her husband on Sept. 11. She's featured in the film and spoke at PBS's press conference. She's concerned about coverage of the anniversary.

"A lot of the families I'm speaking to feel over-saturated themselves," she said. "We really can't grieve or have any closure when it's constantly being shown on TV. ... Other people who have lost [loved ones] don't have their loss shown on TV everywhere they go for the rest of their lives. ...

"At the same time, there's a part of me that doesn't want people to forget and move on. As people return to their lives and a sense of normalcy, the families that are grieving haven't. It's a double-edged sword."

You can reach Rob Owen at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com. Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

Back to top Back to top E-mail this story E-mail this story
Search | Contact Us |  Site Map | Terms of Use |  Privacy Policy |  Advertise | Help |  Corrections