God, Haiti, Pat Robertston and us
By now everyone has heard of Pat Robertson’s unfortunate remarks regarding the earthquake in Haiti. He has often claimed to know the purpose that is intended (of course it’s judgment) by the occurrence of disasters – the history of slavery, and the reality of richer nations and corporations pushing small businesses and farmers out of business and crushing their fragile economies notwithstanding.
I wonder if the same principle applies to Hurricane Bonnie in 1998. A few months before that hurricane happened, Robertson claimed that God’s wrath would hit Orlando, FL because Disneyworld has Gay Days events. But overnight Hurricane Bonnie moved away from the Florida coast and hit square on Virginia Beach where Robertson’s compound is located. Either God has a sense of humor (a gentle one – they did not suffer anywhere near the devastation that others have had) or a butterfly fluttered its wings in Burma.
I was saddened and appalled at his remarks but I get it. I do not agree at all but I understand, I think. I do not think that too many people take him seriously anymore but I do know that people need to make sense of God and suffering. We are all tempted to speak for God. And this has been the question of the ages – how do we believe in a good God amidst horrific suffering, both man made and natural? How do we begin to understand the existence of so much evil around us?
Using judgment or blaming the victim is a way of quieting the confusion of mind and the fear in the soul. It keeps people from tearing their hair out and screaming, “Really God, WTF???!?” (Ok, I confess, I do that anyway at times.) The fear and discomfort of uncertainty and the need to create an illusion of control in this chaotic world creates the theology expressed by so much black and white thinking. It helps to have reasons why, especially when those reasons keep you in the right. But it also shuts down compassion. If they brought this on themselves, we don’t have to give to those who don’t really deserve it, nor take responsibility for our own part in creating third world economies.
But a wise person once said that the only way to answer a theodicy (the hard questions of God and evil) is with a Theophany. An encounter with the Holy. Just as God answered Job’s complaints only with Himself (and Job was utterly transformed at the end of that book, giving his daughters full in heritance with his brothers – unheard of!!!) the only “answer” is the One who transcends our foolish religious striving. In times like these I need a deeper drink of a God of love. A petty, divisive God who abandons the poor and downtrodden brings me to despair.
That Old Testament vengeance is still too often the lens through which we view things.
One friend said, “Haiti is the broken and bloodied Body of Christ.” I agree, and I believe that if you want to see God’s heart in all this, well, He’s pinned under rubble, He’s hurt and afraid, He’s hungry and homeless in Haiti. And also look to the relief workers who are facing all the hellish aftermath to bring rescue, comfort and aid. God bless them.
And for some smiles, finally: Here is Jon Stewart’s laugh-out-loud funny response to both Robertson and Rush Limbaugh who has said some of the most shameless racist remarks ever:
(sorry, it won’t let me embed)