Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wrath of God Roundup

Here's a roundup of articles I've found interesting and/or meaningful regarding seeking a theological explanation for the Haiti earthquake.

Looking for a cause for the Haiti earthquake? This op-ed by David Ignatius at The Washington Post a good place to start. It contains interesting references to Susan Neiman's book Evil in Modern Thought and the responses to the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 by Kant, Voltaire, Rousseau and others.

The best response I've read to Pat Robertson's declaration that the cause of the Haiti earthquake was the nation's "pact with the devil" came in the form of a fictitious letter from Satan to Robertson published in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. I wish I were this witty, clever and prophetic.

Mark Hulether, University of Tennessee religion professor, has an article about the real reasons Pat Robertson is dangerous. he asks the question of whether getting upset about these periodic outrageous statements does more harm than good. He notes, "Comments by Robertson that are racist, sexist, arrogant, complacent, misleading, and/or embarrassing are like a bus: if you miss one today, there will be another tomorrow." Instead he lists five things that demonstrate how Robertson's politics, business interests and writings are the things we should really be worrying about.

However, the best article I have read is by Paula Cooey, religion professor at Macalester Colege--I'll be looking for her other writings. From a position that values theological struggles, she writes about the tendency by people of faith to blame the victims--e.g. Pat Robertson, let God off the hook--e.g. It's God's will--everything happens for a reason, or alternately to dismiss the concept of a loving God altogether--e.g. Voltaire's Candide. Her discussion of the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and the responses to it, the Wesley brothers' hymns, Camus' The Plague, and so on becomes an appeal for people of faith to quit their navel-gazing and help the suffering. She declares that we cannot question the justice of God while we sit on the sidelines ignoring the injustices facing humanity.

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