1. Talking to God
2. Sandy Hook
On the 12th of January, 2010, at about 4:53PM, the Caribbean nation of Haiti, one of the poorest nation's in the world, experienced a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake, affecting an estimated 3 million people, killing an estimated 316,000, injuring another 300,000, and causing 1 million to become homeless. The government also estimated that 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged.
The next day our old friend Pat Robertson, chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, and host of "The 700 Club," which gives him a daily national forum, proclaimed the quake was caused by the Haitians' "pact to the devil," to gain independence from France in the early 1800s.
The Haitians "were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the Third and whatever," Robertson said on his broadcast. "And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story. And so, the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other."
That's true. Haiti is prone to earthquakes. It also suffers from massive poverty, corruption, hurricanes, disease outbreaks, and flooding, among other things, all most likely due to the nation's desire to be free from colonial rule and that pact with the devil, according to Mr. Robertson.
Haiti occupys the western part of the island of Hispaniola. The eastern two thirds of that island is occupied by the Dominican Republic. They're kind of attached to each other.
The Dominican Republic used to be called Santa Domingo, and had been colonized by the French, Spanish, and Haitians, before gaining independence in 1844, for all we know without making a deal with Satan, yet it has experienced political strife, natural disasters, pollution, and the very same hurricanes that Haiti experiences, as does Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guadeloupe, Martinique, The Bahamas, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Aruba, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Virgin Islands, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, The Cayman Islands, Saint Kitts and Nevis, The Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, Montserrat, Florida, and the entire east and southeast coasts of the United States.
It seems the Haitians pact has spilled over onto all of us.
But Pat has an answer for this strange phenomena.
"We have killed over 40 million unborn babies in America," Robertson said on his September 12, 2005, broadcast of "700 Club," two weeks after Hurricane Katrina made landfall over New Orleans.
"I was reading, yesterday, a book that was very interesting about what God has to say in the Old Testament about those who shed innocent blood. And he [the author] used the term that those who do this, 'the land will vomit you out.' ... But have we found we are unable somehow to defend ourselves against some of the attacks that are coming against us, either by terrorists or now by natural disaster? Could they be connected in some way?"
Here's another explanation for Katrina:
"All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens,” John Hagee, a Texas-based evangelical pastor who leads the Christian Zionist movement in the United States, said after Katrina. "I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are – were recipients of the judgment of God for that."
Well, which is it? Baby killing in the United States, or sin just in New Orleans? Please tell me. I really want to know.
Personally I think one explanation for Hurricane Katrina might be a storm system characterized by a low-pressure center surrounded by a spiral arrangement of thunderstorms that produce strong winds and heavy rain.
But that's just me... oh, and the Newsroom:
How about 9/11? One explanation could be 19 terrorists from the Islamist militant group Al-Qaeda hijacking four planes to use as weapons who tragically struck the World Trade Center and Pentagon because of U.S. policy in the Middle East (don't tell me they attacked us because they hated our freedom), or as the late Rev. Jerry Falwell postulated, “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen. God will not be mocked."
He later recanted this statement... sort of... stating that forces trying to secularize the U.S. “created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812."
Like many during the 2008 and 2012 election, I guess Mr. Falwell didn't consider Hawaii and Pearl Harbor as really being part of the United States.
Abraham Lincoln, the vampire slayer, considered God intervening in human affairs during the Civil War, and why so much loss of life was necessary. He wrote at this time that God "could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds." In his last speech before his assassination he framed the war as divine punishment for slavery.
At least Mr. Lincoln was considering and not proclaiming.
On and on.
I was shocked and deeply saddened upon learning of the mass shooting in Newtown Connecticut, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. I abhor violence, especially against women and children.
Two weeks ago today, Adam Lanza, age 20, an honors student with no prior criminal history, shot his mother four times in the head while she was lying in bed with one of her own guns, he then drove her car to Sandy Hook, shot his way through a locked door into the school, and was confronted by the school's principle and psychologist, both women, who he immediately shot and killed. He then went on a rampage, killing in all 20 children between the ages of six and seven, and 4 other adults, all women who died trying to protect their charges as best they could. Upon the arrival of first responders Lanza shot himself in the head and subsequently died.
The nation reacted sharply, with anger, sympathy, sorrow, and quite possibly a new found determination to finally buck the hold the National Rifle Association has on our government and culture, and pass some meaningful gun legislation (the NRA's answer to the problem, voiced by its executive vice president and gun manufacturer front man Wayne LaPierre, was as expected, more guns, in the form of armed security guards at each of the nation's 98,706 public schools and 33,740 private grade schools (hopefully colleges can fend for themselves)). I myself, just about an hour ago, would have happily signed a petition sponsored by my Senator, Diane Feinstein, which would help reinstate a ban on assault weapons... if only her website had been up and running.
We have no explanation on why this shooting occured. We will never be able to delve into the mind of Adam Lanza. Obviously he was mentally disturbed and may have been autistic, and the two may have nothing to do with each other, but still, we will never, ever know.
Except for some who talk to God... or at least speak for him, which implies communication.
Squirrel cooker Mike Huckabee claims that Americans have “systematically removed God from our schools” and thus shouldn’t be surprised when violence occurs there (clip above), referring to the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States...
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
... which prohibits conducting religious observances such as prayer in our public schools. By this Huckabee means we've removed God from them.
"God usually refers to the single deity in monotheism or the monist deity in pantheism. God is often conceived of as the supernatural creator and overseer of humans and the universe. Theologians have ascribed a variety of attributes to the many different conceptions of God. The most common among these include omniscience (infinite knowledge), omnipotence (unlimited power), omnipresence (present everywhere), omnibenevolence (perfect goodness), divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence." -Wikipedia
Which makes me wonder how we would have the power to remove an entity such as that described above, from anywhere! Omnipresence implies God is everywhere, whether we want God there or not.
But we'll get back to that.
Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, spoke on his radio program, "I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn't exist... And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the scripture and on God almighty and I think he has allowed [this Newtown massacre] judgment to fall upon us. I think that's what's going on."
So according to Dobson everyone must believe in God as he does or that omnibenevolent diety will cause someone like Lanza to shoot us.
Monger of fear.
Bryan Fischer of the American family Association agrees with Huchabee that God doesn't protect those who who don't pray, and because prayer was prohibited at Sandy Hook, these children were killed.
"The question is going to come up, where was God?,” Fischer said. "I thought God cared about the little children. God protects the little children. Where was God when all this went down. Here's the bottom line, God is not going to go where he is not wanted... Now we have spent since 1962 -- we're 50 years into this now--we have spent 50 years telling God to get lost, telling God we do not want you in our schools, we don't want to pray to you in our schools, we do not want to pray to your before football games, we don't want to pray to you at graduations, we don't want anybody talking about you in a graduation speech... In 1962 we kicked prayer out of the schools. In 1963 we kicked God's word out of ours schools. In 1980 we kicked the Ten Commandments out of our schools. We've kicked God out of our public school system. And I think God would say to us, 'Hey, I'll be glad to protect your children, but you've got to invite me back into your world first. I'm not going to go where I'm not wanted. I am a gentlemen."
God's a gentleman. All of these guys know that God is a male, so of course they are on a first name basis with him. And this omnipotent being needs our invitation or permission to provide services rendered, like protecting us from mass murders... kind of like how vampires (real ones, not those fakes in the Abraham Lincoln movies) need to be invited before they can come in.
Old Paths Baptist Church's Rev. Sam Morris claims the number of mass shootings are escalating because of schools were government “mind-control centers” that teach "junk about evolution" and "how to be a homo."
"We get all up in arms about 20 children being shot in a day care but we don’t give one good-glory rip about the 4,000 that were removed violently from the wombs of their mothers [in abortion procedures] the same day," he explained. "I believe they use children and Christmas and all that to pull on our heart strings about gun control. That’s what it’s all about."
Well, here we have a whole potpourri of reasons God is killing us off. We're teaching evolution in our schools, oh yes, and how to become homosexual (I for one have never seen that particular class offered... but my scholastic experience is limited I have to admit), abortion is legal in this country, and some of us want tighter regulations for guns.
I had no idea God was a gun enthusiast! Who knew? Certainly not me.
I could go on and site further examples, but these people make me ill.
Clearly these men are promoting their own agenda, and are not above exploiting tragedy in doing so. They claim to have some special connection to God, that you and I do not, which allows them to know God's mind and He/She/It's plans for us. They are special. They get to talk to God and receive answers, and we non-special people don't.
The problem is millions of people in this country may believe them. As we discussed in Part 1, Gallop polled Americans on this issue (June of last year) and more than 9 out of 10 people believe in God in this country, and these gentlemen above have large public forums to make their nonsense known to these 9 out of 10. And that's a danger.
What about their case? Why is it false?
First off they all make the proposition that there is such an entity as God, but offer no verifiable proof of He/She/It's existence. Hey, it's not me making the claim, so it's not my job to prove that God does not exist. It's their burden to prove the He/She/It does. Until they do they can't be taken seriously.
I know, millions of people, the majority of Americans agree with them, and believe that God does exist. As a matter of fact I don't personally know anyone who agrees with me that God does not, not personally.
And I know that this belief is entrenched, and that it offers individual support to people at trying times, like all of those pastors and practitioners of the different faiths that presided over the memorial service for the victims of Sandy Hook. And I also know that a belief in God allows those to hope for eternal life, and the meeting of our loved ones who have already died.
But that is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence.
And the majority is often wrong. The majority at one time thought that the Earth was flat, that the Sun revolved around us rather than the other way around, and that we were created in 6 days 10,000 years ago.
Further, these men above claim different motives for God's actions. Why would that be if they were all communicating with the same diety? Why?
Gun violence is killing 87 people a day across America. These people don't get the attention that the children and teachers of Sandy Hook received, but what about them? What was their offense against God?
I think these men are using God to manipulate religiously oriented gullable people. They may in fact be true believers, but they have perverted their messages with their own biases and ignorance. Their message is nothing but their own desires for how the world should be, and how they would want everyone else to believe as they do.
Their message is hogwash.
Here's what we really know about God if He/She/it truly exists... God's knowable attributes: He/She/It is incredibly shy and steadfastly refuses to interfere, intervene, or manifest them self in the affairs of humans in any way, shape, or form. God displays total indifference in what we do.
How can you say that Rick? Aren't you afraid of dying?
We die a little each night when we go to sleep, that's what I expect dying will be like... an endless, dreamless sleep.
And as Tommy Lee Jones said in the film "The Fugitive," "I need the rest."
But still, I'll try and put that long rest off for as long as possible.
This brief period of life that we are so lucky to experience should be cherished and appreciated.
And we do mourn those who have gone before us, some of us, needlessly.
Thanks to Dan Gilgoff of CNN and Frank Schaeffer for source material.