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Buddhism in the News


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

God Owes Us an Apology

(This is an article by Barbara Ehrenreich that I read in the lastest copy of The Nation and I thought very interesting. Would love to hear everyones opinion on it. It's long but very thought provoking and a fast read).

God Owes Us an Apology:

The Tsunami of sea water was followed instantly by a tsunami of spittle as the religious sputtered to rationalize God's latest felony. Here we'd been placidly killing each other a few dozen at a time in Iraq. Darfur, Congo, Israel, and Palestine, when along comes the deity and whacks a quarter million in a couple of hours between breakfast and lunch. On CNN, NPR, Fox News, and in newspaper articles too numerous for Nexis to count, men and women of the cloth weighed in solemnly on His existence, His motives, and even His competence to continue as Ruler of Everything.
Theodicy, in other words -- the attempt to reconcile God's perfect goodness with the manifest evils of His world -- has arisen from the waves. On the retro, fundamentalist, side, various men and women of the cloth announced that the tsunami was the rational act of a deity enraged by (take your pick): the suppression of Christianity in South Asia, pornography and child-trafficking in that same locale, or, in the view of some Muslim commentators, the bikini clad tourists in Phuket.
[...] Of course, God exists, seems to be the general consensus. And, of course, He is perfectly good. It's just that his jurisdiction doesn't extend to tectonic plates. Or maybe it does and He tosses us an occasional grenade like this just to see how quickly we can mobilize to clean up the damage. Besides, as the Catholic priests like to remind us, "He's a 'mystery' " --though that's never stopped them from pronouncing His views on abortion with absolute certainty.
[...] God has a lot to account for in the way of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and plagues. Nor has He ever shown much discrimination in his choice of victims. A tsunami hit Lisbon in 1755, on All Saints Day, when the good Christians were all in church. The faithful perished, while the denizens of the red light district, which was built on strong stone, simply carried on sinning. Similarly, last fall's hurricanes flattened the God-fearing, Republican parts of Florida while sparing sin-soaked Key West and South Beach.
[...] If He so loves us that He gave his only son etc., why couldn't he have held those tectonic plates in place at least until the kids were of the beach? So much, too, for the current pop-Christian God, who can be found, at least on the internet, micro-managing people's careers, resolving marital spats, and taking excess pounds off the faithful -- this last being Pat Robertson's latest fixation.
If we are responsible for our actions, as most religions insist, then God should be, too, and I would propose, post-tsunami, an immediate withdrawal of prayer and other forms of flattery directed at a supposedly moral deity--at least until an apology is issued, such as, for example: "I was so busy with Cindy-in-Omaha's weight-loss program that I wasn't paying attention to the Earth's crust."
It's not just Christianity. Any religoin centered on a God who is both all-powerful and all-good, including Islam and the more monotheistically inclined versions of Hinduism, should be subject to a thorough post-tsunami evalution. As many have noted before me: If God cares abou our punny species, then disasters prove that he is not all-powerful; and if he is all powerful, then clearly he doesn't give a damn.
[...] If there is a God, and He, She, or It had a message for us on 12/26, that message is: GE your act together, folks--your seismic detection systems, your first responders and global mobilization capacity--because no one, and I mean no One, is coming to medi-vac us out of here.

-Peace to us all-

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Amadeus said...

I hope you are not trying to be too mindful in posting this.:P

Anyways, interesting article. I have to say that I believe in a Diest type God. One that created and forgot about--or maybe not forgot, but occupied elsewhere.

The last paragraph, I like of course, but may provide a clue that though we love, praise and believe in God, he, she, it may have other more pressing matters to deal with. Just think if there are 30 other planets to manage. That is a nightmare for even the most aggresive CEO.

If there is a God, and He, She, or It had a message for us on 12/26, that message is: GET your act together, folks--your seismic detection systems, your first responders and global mobilization capacity--because no one, and I mean no One, is coming to medi-vac us out of here.



andi said...

If there is a God, S/He doesn't owe us a damned thing. Stuff happens. Disasters happen, of proportions both global and microcosmic. The more I think about it, the more I think that believing in a God that punishes or otherwise controls life here on Earth is simply irrelevent. What difference does it make? Our responsibility as compassionate, intelligent human beings is to respond to those left behind. That's where you find God. Not in the wave - in the clean-up afterward. Where people work (and are still working) for weeks without sleep and supplies. Where something extra fuels their struggle to survive and to help others. That's God.


James said...

Amadeus: I agree that the last paragraph is one of the best. Regardless of IF their is a "God" he/she/it is not coming so we might as well get our shit together. We need to help each other more instead of worrying about such things.

Andi: I agree that "God" is in everything and everyone. That is "God." We have always existed in ond form or another and always probably will. That is just how is shakes out. I am sure that if there is a "God" then he/she/it has moved on and it is up to us to make things happen down here. It is up to us to help each other. I too need to meditate more but I do other forms of meditation as well. Such as walking meditation and just even breathing and thinking mindfully while driving. Anyway, great comments!!

Andy said...

Some people once asked Jesus why a blind man at the temple was born with no eyesight. Did he sin? Did his parents sin? Christ replied it was neither of these, but so that a work of God could be performed in his life.

Perhaps there is no one to blame for the Tsunami. Not bikini clad tourists, not non-Christian religions, not even God. For the response to the tsunami has been amazing - it has awakened many of us to the needs of the unfortunate around the world. A work of God performed in the response.

Why are we so arrogant to presume that all the failures are God's and all the success stories are ours?


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