Tuesday, January 04, 2005


THE world is still reeling from the tsunami in the Indian Ocean that caused such loss of life and devastation on Boxing Day.Numbness, disbelief and outrage at our powerlessness, our inability to warn the victims, or to save them, is a common reaction. As is, at times, a desire to blame someone, usually God; or at least to question his wisdom and knowledge in permitting such tragedies to occur, and to seek an explanation for what has happened.
Grief at the extent of the devastation caused by the earthquake and its tsunami, and the desire to come to grips with it in human terms have been overshadowed by comments by Sydney's Anglican dean, Phillip Jensen, who reportedly said that "disasters are part of his warning that judgment is coming", and the chief executive of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Amjad Mehboob, who reportedly said that it could not have happened unless it was God's will.
Sydney's Catholic dean, Neil Brown, differed from this view, as did Rabbi Apple of the Great Synagogue and the president of the Hindu Council of Australia, Appupillay Bala.
Christianity does not teach that God causes natural disasters; nor does it teach that God causes them in order to punish the wickedness of the victims. If Jensen meant this, he would be seriously at odds with Christian tradition.

The earthquake and tsunami do, nevertheless, raise important questions that deserve answers, as the Archbishop of Canterbury is reported as saying.
I can sympathise with the halting attempts people make to articulate their feelings at a moment like this: when we stand appalled and seemingly helpless before inexorable destruction and death.
Yet, for all its horror, the suffering caused by natural disasters is not comparable to the suffering that human beings inflict on one another.
Like many others I was shocked at the photo printed in British journals some years back of a 16-year-old boy from an unnamed country whose eyes had been burned out of his head with cigars and whose tongue had been ripped out with pliers. Amnesty International was much criticised for the advertisement, but it told the truth. The police had done nothing about the atrocity because they knew who did it. And apparently approved. Questions needed to be asked, and answers found.
The untold millions who died in the 20th century in wars deserve to have their deaths and their suffering taken seriously; and for the lessons to be learned.
Woolly one-liners that implied that God was indifferent to human suffering were given eager media attention in the wake of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart tragedy ["Where was God when the yachts were sinking?"] but, for all their facile topicality, they are smokescreens that lead to an ever deeper introversion and narrowness of mind. In shutting a transcendent God completely out of the picture, such pundits consign the human spirit to a hopelessness from which there is no escape.
The problem of suffering and evil is as old as mankind. Christians believe that God is all-loving and that his compassion and love reach out to all, especially to the most helpless and abandoned. As Isaiah the Hebrew prophet reminds us, God's ways are not our ways; nor are his thoughts our thoughts. This is not a cop-out, but an admission that confronted by suffering we are in the realm of mystery.
THE French existentialist philosopher Gabriel Marcel noted that the mysteries of suffering and evil are often used as arguments against the existence of a loving God. However, more people, he says, are turned towards God by suffering than away from him.
He also comments for the benefit of those of us who live in the so-called First World, that if there is one single conclusion forced on us by the history of mankind, it is that the growth of faith in God is not hindered by misfortune and suffering, but by satisfaction.
Pope John Paul II comforted the victims of the tsunami by assuring them that God had not abandoned them and added: "I am close to you all with my love and prayers, especially to the injured and the homeless, while I entrust to the divine mercy of God the countless number of people who lost their lives."
As I write this, world leaders are pledging almost $3 billion in aid for the survivors of the devastation caused by the tsunami; countries and regions are setting aside their differences and co-operating for the good of those who are suffering; the UN Secretary-General assures us that the UN is in there "for the long term".


Blogger Jack the blogger said...

More donation information on today's Quack.

12:12 AM  
Blogger magz said...

You, my sister... are a smart lady. This is so seriously well thought out and researched. And poingnent (eff da sp!) And ultimately....human. Nature. human nature.
I'm in this tree-huggin bunny-luvin international network called care2 (i think i invited ya in once) where they range from mildly politically aware people thru raving liberal maniacs.. and I could add from there at least 3000 more possible ways to dontate relief for victims of EVERYTHING.. from tsunami's to colonel sanders chickens...and a person can sign petitions and checks untill either their hearts are content, or their hands fall off, or their banks repossess their houses for defaulted payments, in which case you can apply to the relief groups yourself. shit. it hurts. God sees the sparrow fall... and Magz hears the teeny scream as she swats a fly...but it's life. and death. Can we save everybody/everything from pain or disaster? Can we feed/clothe/house/educate them if we do?

ARGHHHH! you made me THINK danggit sis... ow ow ouch! Stop that! I'm being forced to persue my hedonistic selfish pleasures with loud music and massive quantities of mind altering substances, combined with sun, air.. and scenery. Thank god i KNOW i'm crazy... for sanity is a sad sad state of affairs...
I'll letcha know as soon as I get this whole thing figgered out...I'm bound to come up with some really simple solution to every problem in the universe today that doesnt require my suicide... lol. Since I plan to live forever as a sexy beautiful diva goddess, once everyone agrees to name me Empress, everything's going ta be hunky dory for all.

2:46 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Jack ~ Thanks for sharing :)

Magz ~ Agree with you whole heartedly...your insane...LMAO....coming from me, that's saying something!

9:18 AM  
Blogger riskybiz said...

Well thought out blog!
Not against anyone's beliefs, but science and nature are the cause.
My 10 year old son showed me, no joking.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Risky ~ thankyou kind sir!

1:42 PM  
Blogger Nathan Frampton said...

Good post.

12:10 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Nathan ~ Welcome, and thanks :o)

9:01 AM  

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