IVP - Strangely Dim - Blame God

September 16, 2005

Blame God

You knew someone was going to say it, and worse yet, put it on the Internet. And that’s what happened; some preacher is preaching online that God sent Hurricane Katrina to purge New Orleans of sin.

Really though, posting something stupid online is a national pastime, isn’t it? I do it every week, and nobody makes a big deal of it. But a local radio station has been grinding its teeth about this particular statement, with DJs taking opportunity to make public mockery of people of faith.

Meanwhile, here are some of the similarly obnoxious theories about the source and intent of Hurricane Katrina, found on Google yet unchallenged on radio:

New Orleans mayor fears CIA to take him out
Did the Shadow Government decide to sacrifice an entire city, New Orleans, to cover up the coming news of Bush fraud and bribery and in order to further rig the price of oil?
As the White House unsuccessfully insists on seizing control of the Louisiana National Guard to institute full-blown martial law in New Orleans, it has brought in foreign troops moving on the Western and Eastern borders of the state.
Ivan and Katrina: These are both very Russian sounding names. . . . The former Soviet Union (fSU) developed and boasted of weather modification technology during the 1960’s and 70’s with deployment against the United States coming in 1976.

Blame Christians. Blame the CIA. Blame the Mexican military. Blame the evil Soviet weather machine. Blame God. No matter how you slice it, it’s still crackers.

What can you say to a person who floats such a cockamamie theory? On the flip side, what can you say to a person who exploits such absurdities in order to spout their own unedited ejaculations about the government or the culture or the Creator?

We’re faced with a dilemma of biblical proportions: Answer a fool according to his folly, or don’t answer a fool according to his folly? In his book Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton dealt with this sort of manic cockiness better than just about anybody, so I’ll quote him at length:

The lunatic’s theory explains a large number of things, but it does not explain them in a large way. I mean that if you or I were dealing with a mind that was growing morbid, we should be chiefly concerned not so much to give it arguments as to give it air, to convince it that there was something cleaner and cooler outside the suffocation of a single argument. . . .
Perhaps when the man in the street did not seem to see you it was only his cunning; perhaps when the policeman asked you your name it was only because he knew it already. But how much happier you would be if you only knew that these people cared nothing about you! How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in their sunny selfishness and their virile indifference! . . .
Perhaps you know that you are the King of England; but why do you care? Make one magnificent effort and you will be a human being and look down on all the kings of the earth.
Or it might be the third case, of the madman who called himself Christ. If we said what we felt, we should say, “How much happier you would be, how much more of you there would be, if the hammer of a higher God could smash your small cosmos, scattering the stars like spangles, and leave you in the open, free like other men to look up as well as down!”


Now in English!
My book Comic Book Character has been picked up by a publisher in the Philippines. Everything about the book is identical to the American edition--right down to the flip animation--except that apparently the generic superheroes on the American cover won't play in Manila, so they've replaced them with all-new generic superheroes. I guess we could think of it as Justice League: Far East.

Anyway, if you happen to be in the Philippines, pick one up!

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at September 16, 2005 8:00 AM Bookmark and Share

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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