Lent III - Disasters (then and now)
Was America being punished by Snowpocolypse and Snowmaggeddom? Was the way Washington and Boston were hit punishment for gay marriage? Were the floods of New Orleans punishment for sin, particlulary gay clubs across the Lavender Line, punishment for the sins of Bourbon Street? Are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan punsihment for gay tolerance? Did the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti come about because of some sin, in the last case some purported pact with Satan?
A similar question is posed in last Sunday's Gospel regarding the collapse of the Tower of Shilom and those who were killed and their blood mixed with the sacrifices. Jesus said no. These individuals were of no more or less need of repentence then or now. Disaster is not a sign of disfavor from God. Repentence is both a personal and a social phenomenon, however we are judged as individuals. Indeed, we are judged more harshly for our lapses in charity and our failure to act to change society than we are for our personal sins. In other words, if the Gulf Coast were being punished for its sins, it was mostly likley the sins of slavery and Jim Crow, not anything that happens on Fat Tuesday.
As it is, all of these events have to do with human error, rather than divine judgment. The reason the sacrifices were mixed with human blood was entirely due to the fact that Israel and the entire region did not have an adequate defense against either Alexander or Caesar. An effective alliance would have stopped them both. The fall of any tower has to do with bad construction or design. Indeed, if the Twin Towers had not used concrete floors and exo-skelaton support, they might not have collapsed - nor would they if the FBI had not demoted the one person who was close to discovering al-Queda's plot because the section chief did not like her.
New Orleans flooded because the levies were not maintained and Mississippi because the wetlands which might have absorbed the storm were replaced with development. Port Au Prince was built on a known earthquake fault. Concepcion, Chile probably was also badly located. God does not stop us from putting cities where they should not be, nor does he go out of His way to protect us from our folly. The only sin is rebuilding in the wrong place - or rebuilding badly. Also, God did not get us into Iraq. Dick Cheney and George Bush did that all on their own and the Democrats in Congress did not have the nerve to even resist. Don't blame God or homosexuals for that one - or for the carnage because Donald Rumsfeld thought he could ignore Iraqi desires to avoid foreign domination.
Indeed, the continued carnage in Afghanistan will go on if we keep up the current course - temporary victories notwithstanding. Unless we scale down the conflict and remove ourselves from the non-Pashtun areas, there is no way we can control a country that size with the troops at hand. The only way out of this continuing disaster is to repent from our current course - and this repentence must start in Washington, DC at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.