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.
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