Tuesday, January 17, 2006

God strikes mayor of New Orleans with dementia

That can be the only explanation for C. Ray Nagin's suggestion that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were a sign that God was mad at America for the Iraq war and problems in the African American community.

"Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country," Nagin said. "Surely he doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves."

You know, I understand the man is under stress, but it's time for religious people (much less politicians) to stop using this explanation for natural disasters. I can hear every atheist saying, "See, I told you religion is insane. Those people worship a homicidal maniac." And, along with Pat Robertson's God-gave-Ariel-Sharon-a-stroke remark (for which he apologized after Israel threatened to put the brakes on an evangelical tourist center in Israel), I pity anyone struggling with faith. This would certainly put them over the edge.

There's no doubt it's hard to reconcile this big bad world with a great good God supposedly in control of things, but someone has to come to God's defense. God is not some cosmic bully or an absentee landlord. For my part, I believe God to be profoundly present with those who suffer these catastrophes--hell, I think God suffers right along with us, dies in every drowned child, feels abandoned in every elderly person left to fend for themselves. We are, after all, made in God's image and likeness.

But I would rather go to hell than live in eternity with a God who drowns black children because of the sins of their parents (or their elected officials), or destroys people's homes because of all the sinning going on in the French Quarter (or in Washington, D.C. for that matter). Or drowns 250,000 South Asians with a gigantic tidal wave for God knows what reason. Or abandons countless women and children in Darfur to rape and murder by marauding bands. Or strikes millions of African babies with HIV and AIDS to make a point about sexual morality. That God is insane.

And I ask you: Where are the ministers, the preachers, the theologians who all know there is another way to deal theologically with disasters like these. Isn't there one Catholic bishop who will say, "God, who loves you more than anything, who has inscribed you on the palms of God's hands, would never, ever, ever, bring you harm." Or even, "God is grieving with you, suffers in you, weeps with you." Why can't we just admit that sometimes we have no f-ing idea "why" things like this happen; maybe God can't do a single thing about it. (And, of course, it's always easier to blame God than to acknowledge the part we play through our mad consumption of the planet and destruction of its resources.)

What the hell is the Incarnation all about if not to assure us that Emmanuel, God-with-us, whom we just celebrated at Christmas, is with us always, even in this sometimes terrible, beyond terrible, mess.

Mayor Nagin, I'm terribly sorry for your loss. But please don't say another word to a reporter about the part you think God had in all this. Though I'm sure you get a pass in the circumstances, it's best not to take God's name in vain.


At 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that the problem is that God is too occupied controlling the outcome of football and basketball games and not focused on the major disasters.

If we praise God for the most insignificant happenings, such as winning the big game, at some point we have to look at the other side -- that God was against us -- so we lost the game; or to carry it further -- we were hit by a hurricane because we did something bad. Otherwise, we could have pushed the course of the storm by our prayers. (So that it hits less righteous folks.)

When the M8.5 earthquake hits San Francisco and kills thousands of people, I am sure that someone will emphatically state that it is God's punishment for the immorality and liberalism of S.F. But haven't M8.5 earthquakes hit that area dozens of time over the centuries? Were those earthquakes in anticipation of future sins?

God doesn't intervene in a hurricane or earthquake anymore that He intervenes in a football game. If he was an interventionist he probably would have sent a message to New Orleans a few hundred years ago saying "You might want to rethink building a city below sea level because I might occupied controlling several thousand football games when a hurricane hits."

At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't everything that happens someone else's fault? Just ask a parent. pc

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

I live next to a major fault line on the other side of the Pacific. A magnitude 8 quake is a definite possibility here. (Hopefully after I have found a permanent resting place.) I live in a fairly ordinary town though so it is hard to see what immorality we could be blamed for when it hits. Maybe it will be blamed on the godlessness of the whole country!


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