How David Ray Griffin Changed My Life
David Ray Griffin, the pre-eminent scholar of the 9/11 truth movement, passed away last week at the age of 83. Dr. Griffin, alongside his mentor John Cobb, co-founded process theology, the most interesting and substantive of the many novel approaches to theology that proliferated in the 20th century. He published 50 books, including 14 on 9/11, as well as hundreds of articles.
There is only one reason why The New York Times, supposedly America’s newspaper of record, failed to publish an obituary honoring David Ray Griffin as one of the most important and influential thinkers of our time. That reason is Griffin’s work on 9/11, which poses an unanswerable challenge to the Zionist and imperialist lobbies that own the Times and the rest of the American establishment.
Had he never touched the third-rail topic of 9/11, David Ray Griffin would undoubtedly have been recognized by that establishment for his many first-rate contributions to philosophical theology, both theoretical and applied. He and John Cobb made Alfred North Whitehead’s thought accessible and relevant to all sorts of scientific and topical issues. When I was researching and writing my dissertation on Moroccan Sufism circa 1999-2004, I had to read Griffin and Cobb, perhaps our two most important thinkers on religion—and consider Griffin’s work on psi phenomena and miracles, among other things, in relation to stories of the miracles allegedly performed by Sufi saints.
So in late 2003, when I heard that Griffin was working on a book arguing that the World Trade Center had probably been deliberately demolished with explosives, and that the “Arab hijackers” narrative of 9/11 was almost certainly false, I was—to put it mildly—surprised. In mid-December, after I finished grading papers for the classes I was teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I took a couple of weeks to intensively study the subject. What I learned was shocking. The really amazing thing was not that elements of the US and Israeli governments would do such a thing, but rather how absurdly obvious it was, how they seemingly hadn’t even bothered to cover their tracks.
After finishing my dissertation and earning my Ph.D. in September 2004, I started doing 9/11 truth teach-ins at the University while continuing to teach as a lecturer (adjunct professor). Gradually the word spread that the official story of 9/11 was being challenged. A professor at Edgewood College who had done graduate studies with David Ray Griffin suggested that we invite him to speak in Madison. I agreed and organized his first 9/11 and American Empire talk, which drew almost 500 people and was repeatedly broadcast on C-Span—the first time mainstream media had covered the 9/11 truth movement.
I met David and his wife Ann Jacqua before the talk, and had breakfast with them the next day. I was surprised to learn that David was well-versed in the literature of the JFK assassination, a topic that to my knowledge he never wrote about. Though I had studied the issue fairly intensively between 1975 and 1991, I found that David seemed to know everything I did and then some. He strongly recommended John Armstrong’s 2003 book Harvey and Lee, which at that point I had never heard of.
We also talked about the religious implications of 9/11 and its relevance for relations between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. He encouraged my efforts with the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth. That discussion later grew into the book 9/11 and American Empire v.2, which I co-edited with Jewish Studies professor Sandra Lubarsky and David’s friend and mentor John Cobb.
David’s influence helped convince me to devote most of my energy to 9/11 and related issues. The first reason was that I wanted to have his back. The more people who rallied behind him, I reasoned, the harder it would be for the demonic forces behind 9/11 to silence him.
So I doubled down on 9/11 activism, turned down a plum post-doc at the University of California and with it the likelihood of a successful academic career, managed to get myself witch-hunted by the neocon thought police, and have been working as a full-time professional dissident ever since. All thanks to the grace of God— working in part through the clearsighted genius and uncommonly sane goodheartedness of David Ray Griffin.
David was a kind, soft-spoken, incredibly erudite man who struck me as slightly dazzled by the beauty of God’s creation and the often-inadequate human response to it. We didn’t always agree (I emphasize the Zionist hand in 9/11 more than he did, and I’m not entirely a process thinker) but there is nobody whose thought and integrity I respect more. If humanity has a future, it’s likely that The New York Times’ error of omission will eventually be corrected and David’s contribution recognized.