Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Over the weekend, I had been putting together a blog entry based on a Washington Post article about how fewer and fewer seminary graduates are going into parish ministry. After everything that has taken place in Oklahoma, with dozens dead (official counts have varied), and Lord only knows how many yet made wounded or homeless, I'm going to hold off on that post for a day and *hopefully* post it tomorrow.
In the meanwhile, though I just want to say a few of things about the whole when-bad-things-happen-to-good-people question (for which the seminary term is "theodicy"):
One--I do not believe God punishes on a macro scale anymore. Maybe He did once upon a time--like with the flood, or with the ten plagues--but I do not, do not, do not believe that God sends natural disasters as punishment. That's superstition, not religion.
Two--I likewise do not believe in the "the dumbass was asking for it" type of argument--the "why did people bother settling down in a place where tornadoes (or earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc) happen?" line of argument. Because natural disasters happen everywhere, and people don't always get to choose where they live--they don't get to choose where they are born, and have to go where they can find jobs, education, and so on.
Three--as a Christian, as an ordained pastor, and as a human being, I am appalled by people who indulge in either number one or number two (Pat Robertson, Westboro Baptist, and John Piper, I'm looking at you). Period.
Finally--remember that this will not be the last natural disaster. Others will come, and Oklahoma will fade from memory. Honestly, how often do we recall the Haiti earthquake, or Hurricane Katrina, with any frequency anymore, even though Port-au-Prince and New Orleans are still recovering from the aftermaths of both? I was--am--heartened to see prayers for Oklahoma all over Facebook and Twitter, but please, please, do not let those prayers, thoughts, and actions be a one-time only thing, because others will face the exact same destruction and heartbreak at a later point in time, and we must remember that we are all in the same boat together, even when we forget about earlier tragedies to focus on the one at hand. Our collective memory can be better, and that's all up to us.
Lord, in your mercy, hear those--our--prayers.
Yours in Christ,