Someone on Facebook linked to a 5 year old post by Greta Christina about something that really annoys me as well, the claim by anyone who is fortunate in any way that God is blessing them and looking out for them. She begins with the example of a man who narrowly missed out on a tragic accident:
From USA Today, August 2 2007:
“Jim Koralesky, 63, who also attended the Mass [a prayer service held Thursday in honor of the bridge collapse victims], took the Interstate 35W bridge six times Wednesday before it collapsed. He was about to take it again a few minutes before 6 p.m. to go to Home Depot. But he said he ran into a friend in his parking lot and got involved in a conversation. After 15 minutes of chatting, he scuttled plans for his errand.
“‘It would have put me on that bridge around that time,’ he said. ‘Someone’s looking out for me.’”
And she responds:
Think about it. So what are the people who actually did die — chopped liver? Where was their guardian angel? The people who did die on the collapsed bridge, the people who did get shot at Columbine — God thought they deserved it? Or maybe God just didn’t care enough about them to save them? Was their guardian angel on a coffee break — or did their angel decide, “Eh, never mind, you can be on the bridge when it collapses”?
Obviously, not all religious people are insensitive enough to actually say this stuff out loud. (Especially at a service in honor of the people who did die, for fuck’s sake.) But I think it’s inherently implied; not in all religion, but in any religion that believes in an interventionist god or spirit that has the power to either cause or prevent the earthquake, the school shooting, the bridge collapse.
When you say that your life is blessed by God — that you have your good job, your nice home, your happy family, your health and prosperity generally, all by the grace of God — the logical implication is that people who don’t have those things are cursed by God. The children born into starvation and war; the people whose homes are destroyed by tsunamis; the people who get slaughtered by crazy mass murderers; the children with birth defects or genetic diseases; the people who plunge to their death when a bridge collapses… either God doesn’t like them, or God doesn’t care about them.
When I was 24 years old, I got into a car accident. It was entirely my fault, as I ran a red light. I wasn’t drunk, I was just daydreaming as I drove and blew right through the red light, getting t-boned. I was very, very lucky. They had to cut me out of the car with the jaws of life, but I only suffered a concussion, some bruises and a fairly serious cut to my right ear, but that was easily fixed with no real damage. The other guy was in much worse shape, unfortunately.
The first person to reach the hospital was my sister, who only lived a few miles away. And the first thing she said to me was, “Boy, someone up there was really looking out for you.” Really? Really? Then that someone up there has terrible timing; if they were really “looking out for me” they would have stopped me from doing it. A completely innocent person who was doing nothing wrong at all was seriously injured because of that accident. Why wasn’t someone up there looking out for him?
People say these things while thinking that they’re showing humility, but the opposite is true. They’re really saying, whether they recognize it or not, that God specially favors them — and therefore specially screws up the lives of others. It’s about equal parts vile and irrational.