03:05:48 pm on
Monday 22 Jul 2024

Disastrous Times
AJ Robinson

In Boston, on 28 November 1942, the Coconut Grove nightclub fire killed 492

A recent article really got my dander up. As my readers well know, that's a sure sign I'm going to vent. Here I go.

God acquiesced.

The article in question reported that a woman asked a conservative Christian minister why God let Hurricane Katrina happen, which is a standard question for people of faith. For centuries, similar questions were common, such as, why do bad things happen to good people? The minister responded that since America had pushed God out of its collective life, God acquiesced and left.

As I recall, another pundit blamed 9/11 on feminists, abortions and homosexuality. Still a third religious leader pinned our troubles on removing God from the schools, not teaching the Bible in school and parents not spanking their kids anymore. Wow.

Let's deal with the latter first. Are the public schools the only place kids can learn of religion? That doesn't hold water, as far as I'm concerned. What about a little Bible study at home with mom and dad? Maybe children could learn of religion at Sunday school.

Are these pundits saying that school is the only place children can learn about God? Similarly, for discipline, is corporal punishment really the only way to control a child? Are timeouts, grounding and all manner of other disciplinary techniques pointless and useless? This seems extreme to me.

Now, let's consider the opening question and reply. Bad things only happening since America turned away from God. That'll be news to Galveston, Texas. In 1900, the worst hurricane in USA history hit Galveston; six to twelve thousand dead and the city reduced to rumble. Were they godless or not sufficiently virtuous? I seriously doubt the city was a modern day Sodom.

What the cow did't do.

The Chicago Fire, of 1871, destroyed more than three square miles and killed three hundred people. Here's an interesting side note about the fire. In the aftermath, the Chicago Fire sparked (sic) a debate as to the direction of the nation. Some people argued that God was punishing America for becoming too urban and that the USA needed to return to a more rural and old fashioned lifestyle. There was also the legend of Mrs O'Leary and her cow, now long since discredited, having started the fire. At the time, politicians and pundits used the story of the cow to scapegoat the poor, Catholic immigrant, Mrs O’Leary, for the fire.

Gosh, someone said all our troubles are the result of the poor and immigrants. We thought that was a modern appeal to fear and loathing among voters.

Going back just a few years from that, there was the Civil War (1861-1865), perhaps America’s most costly and bloody conflict. Both sides claimed to be on the side of the righteous, they prayed to the same God, and invoked His name in all their actions. How should we interpret the various events and ultimate outcome of that terrible war?

San Francisco was devastated by an earthquake in 1906, hundreds dead and fully eighty percent of the city destroyed. I come from the Boston area, so I grew up hearing about the Great Molasses Flood of 1919. Twenty-one dead and one hundred and fifty injured.

These were good decent communities rocked by disasters.

Then there's the other side. Las Vegas, reviled for its gambling and loose morals, yet, it goes merrily on its way. Russia and China don't seem hit with daily natural disasters. Where is the righteous the wrath of God at their actions? For that matter, simply consider any other nation of the world. Did the Japanese question their faith following their terrible earthquake and tsunami? Did the Irish worry that God had forsaken them when they got hit by their first hurricane ever this year?

Next time someone claims God has turned away from America, ask him or her to check the history books before shooting off their mouth.


Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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