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Jan 24 2010

On God And Haiti

“We stand here by the grace of God”
The quake survivors said,
And thanked Him they were not among
Two hundred thousand dead.
“What happened is the will of God”
But God receives no blame;
Survivors gather humbly, and
Sing praises to His name.
One wonders, in the aftermath,
If God is really there—
But which is worse: no God at all,
Or gods that do not care?

In a Saturday NYTimes op-ed, author James Wood ponders the various different invocations of God in the reactions to Haiti’s devastation, from Pat Robertson, to President Obama, to the Haitian survivors themselves.

[A] 27-year-old survivor, Mondésir Raymone, was quoted thus: “We have survived by the grace of God.” Bishop Éric Toussaint, standing near his damaged cathedral, said something similar: “Why give thanks to God? Because we are here. What happened is the will of God. We are in the hands of God now.” A survivor’s gratitude is combined with theological fatalism. This response is entirely understandable, uttered in a ruined landscape beyond the experience of most of us, and a likely source of pastoral comfort to the bishop’s desperate flock. But that should not obscure the fact that it is little more than a piece of helpless mystification, a contradictory cry of optimistic despair.

It is an interesting look at the use of God in such times.

For either God is punitive and interventionist (the Robertson view), or as capricious as nature and so absent as to be effectively nonexistent (the Obama view). Unfortunately, the Bible, which frequently uses God’s power over earth and seas as the sign of his majesty and intervening power, supports the first view; and the history of humanity’s lonely suffering decisively suggests the second.

Interesting, that either view still maintains a God. I wonder why it is that a god who either causes or allows such suffering is not consigned to history. My universe works just fine with no god at all.

****

In an update, I had a visit in the comments on the “Starving? Have a bible” thread. A representative of the company says he will bring the idea of including a radio receiver, to make the audio bible more useful in such disaster scenarios. I think there are contact details in the link to the company website from my older post, if anyone wants to deliver words of encouragement.

1 comment

  1. 1
    Audio Bible

    I didn't have a chance to talk with our engineer today. His daughter had a baby. Maybe tomorrow.

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