January 14, 2010


Or, adding insult to injury.

In any event, seems as though the media always find a way in any tragedy to compound the misery by making sure to broadcast far and wide anything that will create controversy. Of course, if some people wouldn't find death and destruction such a tempting (if I may use that word) target for their own self-righteous tongue-clucking, maybe it would be slightly harder for the newspapers and teevee reporters to spread it around, but what do I know?

I do know that every time some self-annointed spokesman for God gets on the news to talk about why he wasn't crushed in an earthquake and other people were, invariably no one ever thinks to go to the source for comment.

When people start getting smug about how their goodness has protected them from the bad things that happen to those icky sinners, I remember this particular story from Luke 13:

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."

The fellow is mistaken who thinks that he's somehow less of a sinner because he is warm and dry and comfortable and wealthy and fully-fed and palavering in a television studio and not lying dead at the bottom of a rubble pile.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at January 14, 2010 11:24 AM

Where was I? Oh yes, pith.

One should be very judicious in the first stone-casting department - it takes a special ego to assume one is pure, and an impossible task to actually be pure.

A common Jewish answer to why good things happen to bad people is that they need to fulfill their measure of sin and thus receive their really just reward in the hereafter. Conversely the bad things happening to good people is to give them all their suffering in a world where it means nothing than an afterlife where it's all too important.

In either case, it's not for humans to understand the decisions made by a just and kind God - those are for Him alone to understand. The whole "Mouthpiece of the Lord" thing has never sat well with me, and a large part of me wishes for some very public divine repudiation.

Posted by: skinnydan at January 15, 2010 01:31 PM

Maybe Pat was merely pretending to be Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at January 15, 2010 02:22 PM

If you're talking about what I think you're referring to, I can somewhat understand where he's coming from since over half the country in Haiti practices voodoo. You also have the legend about the people who helped found the country supposedly sold their souls to the devil for victory/independence. It's not our place, though, to throw that in their faces, like some "ya got what's comin' to ya heathen!" curse. We instead need to show them love and give them a helping hand.

Our church hosted a missionary family stationed in Haiti a few months ago. We gave them soccer balls and black baby dolls (and $$). They said that the only dolls they ever got to play with (when any were available) were white ones, and it gave the Haitian girls extra confidence playing with dolls that looked more like them. My Pastor said today that they have heard from the family and that they're OK, as they're located on the northern part of Haiti.

The Haitians will still have big problems to overcome long after the relief workers have left. May God be merciful in the months and years to come as they rebuild their communities.

Posted by: Marc V at January 17, 2010 11:15 PM

Well, again, no matter how bad they might be, they are no worse sinner than anyone else, at least according to the reckoning Jesus used to illustrate what he was talking about.

As for the legend, this three part lesson (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) does a good job of exploring the basis for these stories and providing a reasoned response to them.

Like so many such things, the original intent of these stories seems to have been more of a way to vilify the people as savages than anything else--much like the way people used to point to the Bible and proclaim that African slaves had no souls.

As for the practice of voodoo, I've no doubt it is a part of Haitian society--it may even be as pervasive as the fascination with horoscopes, psychics, celebrity worship, materialism, and pseudoscientific twaddle that seems to be such a large part of the so-called Christianity of so many people in America.

Marc's response is absolutely the right thing to do--worry less about why it happened, and get to work making things better.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at January 18, 2010 09:24 AM

I heard some "scary" stories when the Haitian missionaries visited. Their intent was not to scare so much as to explain what goes on there daily, how they turn to desperate voodoo measures and their need for a better way. The big picture points back to us, as Terry alluded to the twaddle. How far down the road are we (the US) going, away from the Lord? Yes, we'll always have bad things happen to good people, and vice versa, but we should fear God's wrath if we ever fall out of His favor.

Posted by: Marc V at January 18, 2010 06:40 PM