April 22, 2008. Pastor John Hagee:
What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God, in time if New Orleans recovers and becomes the pristine city it can become it may in time be called a blessing. But at this time it’s called a curse.
Hagee, an influential fundamentalist pastor, was referring to a gay pride parade that, along with nearly everything else in New Orleans, was obliterated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens” said Hagee on NPR’s Fresh Aire to host Terry Gross. Likewise, the lands and oceans, if you agree with Hagee’s rigid Biblical interpretations. Most Americans do, to some extent, so most Americans must, I presume, believe that God either caused or allowed the Japan earthquake, as well as those in Haiti and New Zealand.
And the multiple snowpocalypses in our country.
And every other natural disaster that afflicts the race of Adam:
For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground. Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. Job 5:6-7
The knowledge, presence, power and will of God is beyond the ability of humans to comprehend:
O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
How can events of the magnitude of Katrina, Haiti or the two recent tsunamis lie outside the will of such a God? As a former fundamentalist Christian, I know that the belief is simple and beyond doubt: God’s will controls all aspects of our lives. I prayed constantly “to do the Lord’s will”, not to mentioning begging him incessantly for the things I desired, knowing that such wishes were granted only if they were in accordance with “His will”. For God, after all, controls the entire universe: “Consider the lilies of the field…”.
What, then, to make of the two nuclear reactors that have suffered partial meltdowns and are poisoning thousands of Japanese?
A hard-core adherence to a fundamentalist dogma requires one to accept that a, God allowed (willed) the construction of the reactors; b, that He then shifted the tectonic plates; and, c, allowed the earthquake and tsunami to cause the destruction of the two reactors: “Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.”
A consistent fundamentalist response would be to question why God visited this horror on the Japanese people. Obviously this time they did not sin by attacking His chosen people in the United States. The fact that their people are, for the most part, non-Christian, perhaps figured into His designs. Maybe sacrifice them as a warning to the world? After all, we did not cease our sinful ways following the decimation in Haiti; Obama just recently doubled-down on legal approval of the sodomites. I find the timing compelling, along with the socialist uprisings in the Midwest.
Was there a gay pride parade scheduled in Sendai this week? Do they have abortion clinics in the city with the busted reactor? What did these people do to anger God? The Haitians, of course, practice voodoo; Lucy Lawless is the most famous New Zealander in the world and an ardent supporter of “gay rights”. A heart and mind filled with the Holy Spirit can see righteously into the truth of these matters.
If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of your land yield their fruit.
I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
I will make people scarcer than pure gold,
more rare than the gold of Ophir.
Christians of the fundamentalist sort like to see themselves as beyond sin: they have been saved for all time (unless, like me, they willfully choose to reject salvation). They may sin, but they will never again be sinners. Should they commit a sin and immediately drop dead, Jesus’ sacrifice will atone despite the unfortunate timing. So warnings such as these are meaningless to those whom God has called to salvation. It’s everyone else who needs to watch their asses.
All of which is to get to this point: Despite the horrors that will be revealed in Japan in the coming months and years as people suffer and die because of the simple fact that humans cannot create earth-proof nuclear reactors, advocates for building in this country will no more be dissuaded by Japan than deep-water oil-drilling advocates were by the Gulf disaster. Yes we face natural threats across the nation — earthquakes and tsunamis on the West Coast, hurricanes on the East Coast, and increasingly more powerful tornadoes in the center — but we are God’s chosen people. Has He not given us dominion over the planet?
And half-a-brain to use as well?
I know from experience that there is no convincing those who believe they act in God’s name. They will push forward regardless the evidence that nuclear power plants are a very bad idea, a technology for which the risks outweigh the benefits. (The same is true of the greedheads, who worship a different god but with equal fervor.) Those of us who do not ascribe to God, or anyone else, the kind of will that dictates every little motion of the planet, have to work with a faith of equal measure — whatever that faith resides in. For me, it’s a tow-fold faith: that this planet will find a way to wreak havoc on us through the destruction of that which we build (and where we build it), and that we have the creativity and intelligence to find solutions to human needs that are non-lethal, produce jobs, increase the common wealth, and reduce the risk to human lives.
Religionists are, for the most part, a lost cause. The United States, however, is a nation of moderate people. Most of us are not slaves to dogma; fear will generally over-rule faith. So will greed and, on occasion, wisdom. The greedheads and dominionists (fundamentalists who believe God wants “man” to rule the world to within an inch of its life) and end-timers (what does it matter? Christ is returning any moment anyway) will push for nuclear power plants and use every excuse and justification they can muster. We will have to defeat them politically, and the horrible disaster in Japan is both warning and opportunity. Let’s begin by gaining agreement from Senators Wyden and Merkley and Representatives Wu, Blumenhauer, DeFazio and Schrader to halt the development of any new nuclear plants. We need them to understand that our country can afford neither the cost nor the risk. We need them to get Pres Obama to reverse his foolish agreement to the new plant in Georgia. If he thinks any part of our country is immune to the possibility of disaster, then he’s not nearly as bright as I still think he is.
Wisdom is a precious commodity in the Bible, “more precious than rubies”. Pride, not so much. Those who speak of the need for energy independence, for maintaining America’s “god-given” prosperity, and for improving conditions for all through technology could begin with the most abundant, less expensive source of energy we have in this country. No natural disaster can interrupt it nor can terrorists turn it against us. Most of our energy-based problems can be resolved by tapping fully into this source, including our need to go to war for oil. We won’t need to pay huge corporations to provide, and, apropos the above commentary, it’s solidly based on any view of the Bible.
It’s simple, it’s immediate, and it’s smart.
And it’s just another form of wisdom-based stewardship.
I’m not sure what God would object to.
T.A. Barnhart has been writing at Blue Oregon for nearly 6 years, and has currently launched The Action TAB, video reports from the 2011 Legislature; a project made possible by supporters at Kickstarter.com. You can follow these reports throughout the session on Facebook.