Tuesday, January 17, 2006



Wow, just when you thought things couldn't get whackier, here comes New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin saying that God smote New Orleans. Nagin joins Republican preacher Pat Robertson in the nut job club; Robertson earlier had said that gay pride parades would bring hurricanes to Florida and that Hurricane Katrina had targeted New Orleans because Ellen DeGeneres was the host of the Emmy Awards show. Robertson has also blamed natural disasters as God's revenge for abortion.

So we're back to the Old Testament Yahweh. God is tired of Time cover stories asking if He is dead, or Kurt Vonnegut's interesting take on God as semi-retired (Vonnegut invents the "Church of God the Utterly Indifferent" in Sirens of Titan), and has taken matters back into His own hands.

I'm not convinced. Why would an omnipotent Creator choose to kill His own handiwork willy nilly? Are we being pruned, like a gardener would prune an arbor vitae? Take a little off Pakistan, a little off New Orleans, a little off Banda Aceh? Is God an abusive parent, like the drunk father who whales on his kids every Friday night after about eight good pops at the local bar? Is God the kind of parent who holds His son's hands in the flames of the stove because the boy was caught smoking? What then of all those tornadoes that flatten good Christian towns in the Bible Belt? If God isn't responsible for them, is someone else? Is it Satan? Ellen DeGeneres?

Whatever God is -- and there's no way the human mind can fathom an Almighty, no matter what the various religious texts on the planet might say -- it strikes me that He would take to smiting cities only if He were as imperfect as his creation. And while it is believed we are made in God's image, I really hate to think that our flaws are also God-like. I'd like to think that if God found my wallet, He'd return it without taking out the cash first.

So here's the deal. I'm going to go back to doing the best job I can not to kill, maim, or hurt anybody; to help folks who need it when I can; and to do what I can to make the world a better place. I wish Ray Nagin and Pat Robertson would make that their mission, too.


Jim Chadwick said...

Don't know if you are aware of this, but the right wing bloggers jumped all over the Nagin story. Their concern seemed to be, "Boy, all those liberals condemn Pat Robertson when he says something like this, but how come none of them are saying anything about Ray Nagin?" Which is funny to me, because it shows that they never get outside of their echo chamber. I have read and heard numerous liberals berating Nagin, but I have yet to hear of a single Christian right winger attack Pat. Which to me points out the biggest difference between liberals and conservatives: liberals will attack their own for stupidity, but right wingers will never admit that anyone on their side can possibly be do anything wrong.

frankpoor said...

Funny thing about God. He knows when you've been sleeping. He knows when
you're awake. He knows when you've been bad or good. So you better be

If you met a thirty something who believed in Santa Claus you'd probably
think he was mentally defective (and I don't mean the "Yes Virginia" type
sentiment, I mean someone who actually believed that one person visited all
the worlds children in a single night to bring them toys in a sleigh pulled
by eight flying reindeer); but a thirty something who believed exactly the
same thing about an Omnipotent being (remove Xmas presents, replace with
heavenly reward); most Americans would fall in right behind him.

You're right Mike. A truly omnipotent being is beyond the comprehension of
the human mind. Such a being would have to be everywhere simultaneously.
He'd be in every room of every house in every country on this planet and all
the other planets and solar systems as well. How can God be everywhere on
this planet, 25,000,000 million light years from here, 25,000,000 light
years from there; and everywhere in between, all at the same time...and look
just like the rest of us? That's an easy one, mass hypnosis. It is simply
not possible for such a being to exist. If any such "Creator" exists he'd
have to look like one of those "life forms" on Star Trek that was just a
bunch of twinkling lights (except with a cloaking device...like the

Which means Jesus Christ is wrong. Or a liar.

At least I didn't fall for it.

But if you still believed in Him, would you really believe that in all of
the vast cosmos the thing He cared about most was a couple of hundred square
miles of rock. Millions of zillions of literally out-of this-world places to
hang and check out the view, but subdivide God's half-acre of hell and he
will knock you down with one "stroke" of His swift sword.

It makes perfect sense to me and everyone else up here at the North Pole.

Mike said...

I'm willing to accept that the way the universe is creates the possibility that it has a Creator. That being said, I'm also willing to accept that there's no way the human mind could wrap around one.

Sometimes I think of the universe and God and Sim City. I've played Sim City, enjoying how my little Sims grow and develop and build, watching them, pushing them. I am their creator, and yet, I can't watch everything and can't do everything and I'm not interested in everything. It wouldn't surprise me that a Supreme Being might favor one planet over another, even subconsciously. But maybe in the great Sim City game of the ultimate universe, our little ecosystem was built, and prospered, and no longer needed Divine attention. So on to the next challenge. As for Jesus, whether or not He is the messiah and the Son of God, there's nothing wrong with the philosophy we were given to take and to use. Show me a more powerful message than the Golden Rule and I'll root for the Mets.

So, as usual, the problem isn't the message but the messenger.

frankpoor said...

When GWB said Jesus was his favorite philosopher, I was willing to accept that. If you look at some of the New Testament, the Gospels, Jesus' teachings etc, it works on a philosophical level, I'll grant you that. But it doesn't stop there. "Jesus is the son of God and we are all God's children", sure, that makes us ALL basically equal. But fundamentalists don't believe that, their version goes more like: "Jesus is the one true son of God sent to die on the cross for our sins, accept Him as your personal Savior or you are doomed to suffer the tribulation while those who do accept Him will ascend to heaven in the rapture". Just ask any Jewish cadet at the Air Force Academy. But my basic premise here Mike is...there is simply no way we could possibly be created in the image of "God". And that is what Jesus said. If it stopped more wars that it started I'd probably already be rooting for the Yankees. And it can't be like you described in the Sims (which I have never played). If you believe in heaven and hell everybody is good or evil and somebody knows because you get sorted out at death. There can be no not watching to see what someone does when no one is looking, because someone is always looking...or you would literally be able to get away with murder. And don't forget, God cares about the unborn too (I really don't know how that relates to you experience playing Sim City). That's one reason there have been so many Hurricanes lately.

And, quite frankly, nothing bores me more than a discussion of religious beliefs, but now religious beliefs are being legislated; and that has a direct effect on my everyday life. And it pisses me off because I always thought that the Constitution could protect me from that. Naive, I know

Mike said...

Generally I'm with you, Frank; I just don't like to fall into the same trap as the religiously blind. Just because they believe they're right and they need to save you and me by imposing their belief system on us doesn't mean that I should try to do the reverse. I think the reason there are many beliefs is that there are many ways of viewing the one Thing. All organized religion is just the human way of putting a human face on things. Jesus never wrote; He was only quoted. Just like the Bible; it's the human stenography of what God might be. So whether you're Thetan Order Seven or Buddhist; Holy Roller or Hindu; Hebrew or Muslim, what we're all arguing about is which shade of blue we're looking at. agnostics wonder whether the color is blue or green; atheists just don't believe there's color. That's why I keep my mind open... including to the possibility that, despite the twisted viewpoints of folks like Pat Robertson or Pope Gregory or Ayatollah Khomeini, there's something out there. What it is, I don't know. So all we need to do is separate the hooey from the straight dope. But it ain't going to be easy.