Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ruminations on Disasters

The catastrophic events in Japan--first the massive quake (and its equally nasty aftershocks) and then the tsunami-- followed by the tsunami effects felt in Hawaii, California, and Oregon had me wondering just who was going to claim that my God is responsible for these, and that he's somehow passing judgment for some obscure reason.

I knew the Westboro Baptist folks would have something to say about that.  I don't so much mind them running their mouths; they're entitled to say what they want and look like unkind, mean-spirited idiots if they want.  What bothers me about them is that they make the rest of us--the ones who are really trying to live like we believe the bible teaches, the ones who truly want to embody and personify the loving, gracious Christ--look really, really bad.  We're not all like that.  I wish they'd stay out of the public eye and stop drawing nasty stereotypes about the "way" that Christians are.

Nor are we all like Pat Robertson, or other evangelists who have made similar claims in the past regarding natural disasters here on our own soil.

Fact: We live in an imperfect world.  Fact:  This imperfect world will have trouble.

That this is God's horrendous judgment is nothing more than the opinion of those who are speaking loudly and have the microphones in front of them.

Me, I grieve for the people of Japan.  I grieve for those who know their loved ones are among the dead.  I grieve for those who don't know where their loved ones are.  I grieve for those who may never know what happened to their loved ones.  I grieve for those who are overwhelmed with the prospect of rebuilding, for those still in danger, for those feeling lost and without hope.  And I pray for an abundant measure of God's grace to fall on them.

But I'm sure not declaring this is the fault of one specific group of people.  Most of my friends are as grieved as I am.  Some of them work for charitable relief organizations, and they're already starting to draw up plans to help.

Mike Schutz, who was chaplain when I was in college, had this to say: 

The problem is not that some pundits are claiming that God is causing the earthquakes in order to "send a message," the problem is that folks who are followers of Jesus are actually listening to these people.  Generations of folk theology that the world is evil and God wants to destroy it, instead of the truth that God wants to reconcile all of Creation, has led us to this place where folks are willing to believe such drivel.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

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