Monday, May 07, 2007

The Pleb and The Genius

RP frequentor Chris Pappa and I google-chatted about our thoughts on natural disasters last week. Not wanting to misrepresent him or his thoughts, I deemed it best to copy our conversation rather than attempt to re-word it into my own prose. I have edited the conversation for the sake of length, clarity, and, of course, our personal reputations.

chris.pappa: so you go first...what do we do with natural disasters? how do we explain natural disasters as theists. good God....havoc-wreaking hurricane that God doesn't stop. what gives?
me: sin gives
chris.pappa: i suppose
but what's the connection between sin and nature?
me: the problem with natural disasters isn't the disaster in and of itself
it's the death which it wreaks
chris.pappa: could hurricanes NOT kill people?
me: i do not know
chris.pappa: hmm
me: what would've happened if a hurricane hit eden?
but. . . .
i also think nature was affected by the fall
chris.pappa: a two-fold approach...
me: what do you mean by two-fold just to clarify?
chris.pappa: 1. nature was affected by the fall
2. what we call "disasters" may not have hurt or killed un-fallen dudes and dudettes
me: yes
nature would have to be different somehow because if we couldn't die, then nature couldn't kill us
so something had to be different
chris.pappa: certainly
me: so if we are back at the fall, then natural disasters come as a result of sin
chris.pappa: ok
so we blame Adam for murderous tornadoes?
me: no, i blame myself
but by extension, yes, adam
anytime death strikes, it reminds me that my sin caused death
so on a grander level, natural disasters are no different than car accidents
or cancer
we die because of sin
chris.pappa: it just seems more devastating because it is a big number
me: yes, but old age gets a lot more than natural disasters
gets a lot more = kills more people
chris.pappa: understood
just not at once
me: true
so for me personally, i treat natural disasters as death
chris.pappa: not tragic?
rather, not MORE tragic?
me: that is a hard question for me
chris.pappa: for me also
me: because yes, va tech really hits me hard
so i cant deny that big events are definitely MORE something
chris.pappa: true
me: but the simple fact that death awaits us all is really brutal
and unavoidable
and tragic
again though, i hurt more when the tsunami happens than when i hear an 80 year friend of a friend dies
so. . . .
i respond like it's more tragic
but intellectually, i dont know
chris.pappa: a noble response
me: your turn
chris.pappa: ah
you have done most of my work for me--for which i commend you
me: haha
genius minds think alike. . . .
chris.pappa: well
sometimes plebs like you may stumble upon genius
think nothing of it
me: :)
chris.pappa: it's actually easier for me to reconcile september 11th than a tornado or an earthquake
i know quite certainly that God has given us the freedom to a sinful act that affects a lot of people, well, that's the freedom in action
me: yes
chris.pappa: but
who did that? nature did that
me: there is no scapegoat
is nature the sinner who chooses evil?
chris.pappa: interesting phrase
i doubt it, though
the bible depicts nature as God's work
there isn't an OT expression for "it rained"
just "God sent rain"
me: hmm
chris.pappa: so here i am thinking, "does God CAUSE natural disasters??"
i don't like the sound of that...
what you said about the fall affecting creation, that's true; and that takes a little of the edge off. We are implicated--somehow
me: you must explain the "somehow"
chris.pappa: ok
me: because it implies there's something else at work besides us
chris.pappa: ah
us and God
I really think that's it
God made the rules...we sinned and He was forced to alter them
So he made the lion but we made the lion frightening
me: ok
chris.pappa: in the end, you say, "this is the world we have made for ourselves"
"we die because we sin"
Sometimes God can (and does) intervene...but we've got to come to the grim conclusion that if 80000 people suddenly die in a tsunami, they deserved to die
not as a scourge direct from God, but because our sin contaminates the world we live in
me: right
so it all comes back to death
chris.pappa: hmnm
me: the unique thing here is that there is no real "cause"
ie, cho at va tech and the fellas on 9/11
chris.pappa: right
but here's the catch
it APPEARS that a hurricane is more like God than a human being
but we know better
the pinnacle of creation is us
me: hmm
that's good stuff
chris.pappa: this is why people are more floored by a human murderer than a "natural" one
me: what do you mean more floored?
chris.pappa: if one person methodically kills 30 people
me: it seems we ask this question more during natty disasters than manmade ones
chris.pappa: hmm
me: back to your earlier point, we can explain the choice
on some level
we have nothing to say when we can't place the blame somewhere
not that this means we are more or less "floored" but this question seems to come up at the tsunami
chris.pappa: true
me: va tech: "where is your god?"
us: "cho's free will"
tsunami: "where is your god?"
me: "_________"
chris.pappa: right
it's harder
it's more ambiguous
or metaphysical
me: right
which explains why it's harder given our post-enlightenment existence
chris.pappa: also why original sin is a toughy
if we don't see the connection between adam's sin and ours, we aren't likely to see the connection between adam's sin and natural disasters
me: hmm, i like that
cause that also explains why it's hard
chris.pappa: right
me: because our overwhelming humanist society doesnt deal well with original sin
chris.pappa: no it does not
i just wrote a pape on original sin
i don't think i'll be back on this issue via my blog
so you have my permission to 43 any of this material
or to rodeo it, if you desire
me: as if there was a difference between 43ing and rodeoing
5:44 PM chris.pappa: ha! as if

Consider it rodeoed.


Jeff said...

can we get some cliffs notes? dang

Anonymous said...

lol to jeff

my pastor this sunday gave a revolutionary sermon. he explained that as christians we should work towards restoration... restoring the earth to what it "should" be (as in what it would have been if sin hadn't entered it). He used this line of thinking to explain why we should be serving the poor, working to keep marraiges together, working to restore peace... and also as a reason to care about the state of the Earth and environment. So, with this line of thinking, whenever one of these sin-to-blame natural disasters hit the earth, we should run with full-force to fix the destruction that results.

interesting line of thinking

ps- my husband is a genius

and has excellent taste in women

Jeff said...

I was wanting to make an intelligent comment on this post. Here's what I've got...
I've thought about why people make such a big deal about national disasters or violence like VT. And here's what I think it comes down to. On some level, I think people are okay with death. They're used to old people dying or people with cancer dying. But murder or natural disaster for some reason seems "unnatural". It reminds us all that life is fragile and can be snuffed out for no apparent reason.
I think that's a hard realization!
But I think you're right. Sin is the reason for death. Sin is the reason for destruction.

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