Rebecca Goldstein on mattering »« In the lobby

Do you thank the lord? I said, DO YOU?

Good old mass media and conformity and assuming everybody thinks the same thing. Wolf Blitzer chats with a woman who just barely escaped the tornado and simply assumes that a lot of god-blather will be welcome.

 At the end of the interview, Blitzer told her, “You’re blessed. Brian, your husband is blessed. Anders is blessed… I guess you got to thank the lord, right?” When the woman shrugged off the question, he repeated it, asking, “Do you thank the lord for that split-second decision?”

“I–I’m actually an atheist,” she responded. After the awkward laughter that followed, she added, “We are here and you know, I don’t blame anybody for thanking the lord.”

“Of course not,” Blitzer replied.

Awkward!

Not. Why should it be awkward? Unless awkward for Blitzer – that would be good.

And I do blame people for thanking the lord, because why couldn’t the lord just divert the tornado to a fallow field, instead?

Comments

  1. says

    What would REALLY be awkward would be if she had asked Blitzer “What about the people who died? Were they not blessed by God?”

    I’d pay to see Blitzer squirm at that.

  2. Gerald Hammond says

    It’s weird the way people thank God for saving them when dozens -sometimes hundreds and thousands he hasn’t bothered to save. Do you think Blitzer has any idea of the insult and contempt his question shows for the relatives of those who died?

  3. says

    And I do blame people for thanking the lord, because why couldn’t the lord just divert the tornado to a fallow field, instead?

    Or not create weather systems that spawn tornadoes. Or create a universe where material bodies are unnecessary?

  4. juliegomoll says

    I was impressed with her willingness to be so honest on national TV. Let’s hope the “I don’t blame others” part reduces the number of death threats she’ll no doubt get from xians.

  5. says

    I was discomfited by that interview too. I see your point exactly, Ophelia – why should it be awkward? But you know, it made me honestly uncomfortable that this woman will now be “outed” in her community and in times of great hardship, people love to blame others for bringing down sky monster’s wrath upon them all…

    But that’s my own dark mood. lol

    And I do blame people for thanking the lord, because why couldn’t the lord just divert the tornado to a fallow field, instead?

    Totally agree with this – I want to point to the fools who waste energy thanking the invisible, silent, deity instead of the human beings who actually try to help! If you will forgive my cheek, here’s a link to a post I wrote last year after the Henryville tornado last year where the same thing happened – oh yes and with a big dollop of unthinking misogyny/polytheism to boot!

    (In preview, this comment looks really weird, but the link appears to work, so I’ma going to hit submit and hope I don’t cause a mini-commentastrophe!)

  6. says

    Raging Bee – to your comment – I actually read one story on one of hte networks where one person who survived (and who said she saved others, too) spoke of praying – shouting actually – to the gods to save her and the others with her and lo and behold! “He” did! But she then mentioned people in a building across the road who died and said – actually said! – “She was not blessed”

    Yeah. Monstrous psychology there.

  7. David Marjanović says

    If you click on “Preview”, the preview appears below the comment window. It lies about how links will appear, though.

  8. Thomas Hobbes says

    “And I do blame people for thanking the lord…”

    Is it ok to “thank the lord” as a kind of metaphor? I find myself saying things like “God forbid” or “thank God” all the time. In fact, the other day, on a bus, a young woman asked me what time we were to arrive at our destination and I said: “8pm. God willing”.

    I don’t believe God’s will has anything to do with the bus, or the weather, or anything really. I identify as an agnostic. But my language remains… old fashioned.

    Is this a bad thing? Should I stop?

  9. says

    Great post, niftyatheist. I never really noticed it before but when people deify Nature, it’s almost always in a negative light: Mother Nature is angry, unpredictable, ruthless, bloody, destructive… When they want to talk about beauty and awesomeness of Nature, it’s almost always as God’s Creation. Huh.

  10. says

    Is it ok to “thank the lord” as a kind of metaphor? I find myself saying things like “God forbid” or “thank God” all the time. In fact, the other day, on a bus, a young woman asked me what time we were to arrive at our destination and I said: “8pm. God willing”.

    I don’t believe God’s will has anything to do with the bus, or the weather, or anything really. I identify as an agnostic. But my language remains… old fashioned.

    If it’s not OK, I’m in trouble! :D I think it’s not only OK, but we have a right to treat such language as holdovers from our global human heritage – just like celebrating Christmas! :D That language is so entrenched to express relief etc, why should we have to awkwardly think of new ways to express what these words already do satisfactorily (unless we want to, of course – to everyone her own word selections!)?

    I still say “Bless you” all the time when people sneeze – which is about 100 times per hour right now in allergy season. One of my teenagers recently cheekily said “Hey Mom, are you really invoking a non-existent deity’s ‘blessing’ on me? Because you know, that could be dangerous!” and I shot back “No, of course not – I am blessing you. And that – coming from a real person who actually loves you – is all good”

  11. says

    People who talk about “the Lord” as if there really were such a person give me the willies. I can’t stand being in their company for long.

  12. says

    #17 bearnardhurley, I feel the same way when around people who insert “the Lord” into everything. But I find a difference between that kind of gods-talk and the kind of reflexive “THank god you’re safe!” or “Jesus Christ! What happened?” or whatever which many non-theist people use. I mean, you can definitely get a sense if people are peppering the conversation with things like “So, I am sure the LOrd knows what is best for me….and I felt the Lord’s hand today…and blah blah I feel the Lord’s blessings in my heart…” that is very different from people who speak normally, but occasionally may throw out a Thank god! or two.

    I think it’s when people insert gods into conversations which normal people would not call religious, that is definitely strange – have to get away ASAP.

  13. Martha says

    I’m with Thomas. I find the practice of counting my blessings, as it were, to be very useful for perspective. Even if there’s nothing out there to thank for them.

  14. says

    niftyatheist, I agree with you; I did say “as if there really were such a person.” The sort of person who freaks me out, is someone like the guy who said “I dedicate this performance to the greater glory of the Lord!” in a singing class many years ago.

  15. Ulysses says

    Ibis3 @14

    Mother Nature is angry, unpredictable, ruthless, bloody, destructive…

    Don’t anthropomorphize Mother Nature, she hates that!

  16. oursally says

    >Is this a bad thing? Should I stop?

    Yes. Every time you invoke deities in everyday conversation you are prolonging their alleged existence.

    Try saying “goodness me” and “Oh no!”. Bless your children yourself, why not? Or try Gesundheit.

    That’s my two-penn’orth, and I live in a place where people mention their invisible friends all the time.

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