Saturday, August 27, 2011
I remember seeing the Chiffon margarine commercial growing up where Mother Nature gets angry that this new invention is not real butter and causes a storm. She exclaims, "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!" She actually kinda scared me some. This week the East Coast has experienced the biggest earthquake in history and as I sit here typing we are waiting for Hurricane Irene to get to us in Philadelphia. Many wonder ... Who made Mamma Nature so angry?
Others think it is something more divine and celestial. The inevitable "God is punishing ____________ for something" statements have been flying fast and furious. They are often related to storms. They seem to come regularly when bad things happen. But they are not confined to natural disasters, even though they seem to come most often after these events. Divine punishment for evil has been proclaimed after Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, the Haiti Earthquake, and the tsunami in Japan. I have to say that this drives me crazy.
For my entire career I have taught about a divine, graceful, and loving God. Yes, there are images of an angry God in the Bible, but Jesus' life and love bring a new understanding of God that moves beyond this. But the image persists of an angry, retributive God who punishes humans for "bad or evil choices." The interesting thing is the groups that get portrayed as causing these punishing events. It is usually blamed on those already on the margins of culture ... thus moving these groups even further away from acceptance and understanding.
I believe we - as humans - have adversely affected our natural world and some of the storms we are suffering from are the result. But I do not believe that God chooses to hurt huge groups of people to as punishment for a small group.
I believe God loves us and mourns when we hurt. I believe God is a merciful God who forgives our short comings and bad choices. I believe God wants the bests for humanity. I believe that God is with us in the storms - not sitting back causing them.
And I believe storms will continue to come and people will continue to say God is angry. But I believe they are wrong. God loves us too much to do that. That's what I believe. And I am sticking with it.
Now ... Mother Nature? She' a whole nother story.