Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Endgame Extra

I think I published this yesterday, but I have added a bit extra. So will re-publish.

The Haiti quake has shaken up a few preconceptions.
Earthquakes - more perhaps than any other form of natural disaster - concentrate the mind wonderfully. Why is this? Well, they invariably strike without warning. Hurricanes, and the floods in their wake, are tracked hourly and we are informed of the risk. People often are warned to flee. Whether or not they do, is their problem, we can comfort ourselves. Volcanos the same. In the past they took the locals by surprise. Not now. Tornados can still strike swiftly, but mostly folks can take some sort of cover in time.
Extreme heat and extreme cold are capable of killing, but usually only when things go wrong these days.
Mostly we cope.
There is the perception of something unearthly about an earthquake. One second you are dozing cozily in your bed, the you are next dead, buried under tons of rubble.
In fact, like it or not, an earthquake is one of the most natural things in the world. Geologists are surprised it doesn't happen more often. The paper-thin surface of the planet has been shifting and roiling for millions of years. We all know this, although I suppose the people who think the world is a few thousand years old have their own ideas.
In the quite recent past, in 1755 in fact, Christian believers - virtually everyone in the western world that was, had no doubt about earthquakes. They were the work of God - and so must be part of His plan. As they were destructive, He must be punishing the Lisbonians(?) for something. This something must be their sins - what else? When Voltaire had the nerve to question this assumption, it was decried as blasphemy.
In 2010, either these old arguments are still valid for Christians or they are not. If they are not, what are the new arguments about God, 'natural' disaster and the world? I would very much like to know.

So far no success. I am now accused of playing games.

What I would like is for somebody to say, 'No, it's not God's fault, because...'
or 'Yes, it's God's fault, but...'
Is this too much to ask?


I am tempted to say the hell with it, but that would be unchristian.


Laura said...

"It is not God's fault or God's will." Bad things happen and good things happen - usually the good ones are no more "deserved" than the bad. I think that how we respond to the good and the bad can differ based on our faith, or lack of faith. For those who believe, there is great relief in the idea that God is in charge - that He is blessing us with the good things, and teaching us with the bad. For those who do not believe, there is enough scientific evidence to explain most of it, but that isn't necessarily comforting. Today my mother asked me about a friend who had been told in September that she had 4 months to live (liver cancer) - when mom last asked about her she wanted to know if Sue was a Christian and I told her "no." The sigh that followed showed that mom believed that Sue would be dead in 4 months. Today I told my mom that Sue got into some trials and she is doing great - tumors shrinking, etc. Mom said, "Well, I guess you can explain it with science or something." Uhmm, yeah, something like that! But I'm not sure why that has to be disappointingly separate from God for my mother. In the meantime mom is part of a 40-day, around-the-clock prayer chain for someone else with cancer. My mother's slot is from 7:00-8:00 in the morning. This struck me as totally bizarre. Is the concern that God will forget to do something if he is only asked once? Even at the height of my Christian involvement, I never understood that one.

If I was buried under a pile of rubble I think I would want the hope, or comfort that believing in God might give. To watch the (pact-with-Satan) believers in Haiti who got together on Sunday and praised God because they were alive...it just has to make life more pleasant to have that kind of faith. Sometimes I wish I did.

Patrick O'Gara said...

Amen to that, Laura.
Although the idea of lying under a heap of rubble and thinking, 'wow, I'm learning from this bad thing,' is not appealing.

Laura said...

I guess my thought of having faith and being buried under rubble was more about having a sense of not being alone more than of learning a lesson. When I think of Jesus I think of limitless love and acceptance - I don't think of judgment and punishment and therefore - if Jesus represents God, it is the comfort of a loving spiritual embrace that I would turn to (and have in the past, and at times still do). But, what started this whole discussion was Pat Robertson and he does not seem to believe in a loving God.