Friday, January 15, 2010

The God I know

I am going to tell you how I feel about God.

If that's too deep, too personal, too intense, too serious -- I completely understand, and hopefully I'll see you back here tomorrow. But tonight, I have something I want to get off my chest.

A couple of days ago, a massive earthquake rocked the nation of Haiti. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 people, as I write, are thought dead. In anyone's estimation, this is a cataclysmic tragedy. And then yesterday it got just a little worse.

Pat Robertson opened his mouth.

Can anyone find another planet for Pat to live on, because he's worn out his welcome on this one?

The good Reverend declared that the Haitians themselves were to blame for this horrific disaster because, sometime in the murky past, Haitian slaves, seeking their freedom from the French, made a pact with the Devil, to help them win their independence.

Is there any tragedy that Pat Robertson can't make just a little worse?

Is this the God you worship? A god, who punishes the (supposed) sins of  a people by destroying their descendants two centuries later? A petty and uncaring god, devoid of compassion, filled with jealousy and consumed with retribution? This is not the God I know.

Not that there is much more than legend to back up Mr. Robertson's claims, but for argument's sake, let's consider the situation of the people who were said to have made this pact with the devil -- they were slaves.

Slaves. Human beings held as property by other human beings. They had no rights. They had no say in their own lives. And to make it worse, they were told that it was God's will that they be enslaved. If your only connection to God was in knowing that He esteemed you no more than the beasts of the field, that he, if not approved, at least condoned the lash of the whip upon your back, would you worship Him? Or would you run in the other direction? And the irony of the situation? The success of the Haitian slave revolt convinced Napoleon to pull out the Americas and to sell Louisiana to the United States, which brought about the notion of Manifest Destiny - the idea that it was God's will that the United States should encompass the entire continent. So who was the architect of this plan, God or Satan?

The God I know does not enslave men -- men enslave men. I don't believe God condones slavery anymore than he caused this terrible earthquake.

I believe that people err when they suppose that God is either the cause of suffering in the world or that he doesn't care about those who suffer. Nor do I believe that He is powerless to do anything about the pain and tragedy in the world. But the God I know -- the God I worship, our Father -- values agency above all else. This is how he proves us. This is how he refines us. It is His greatest gift to each of us -- the ability to choose right or wrong. God has given us the chance to be our best selves, to be true to our own divine nature, but we can only rise to that nobility by facing, understanding, and turning away from it's opposite. Without pain, we cannot know healing. Without sorrow, we wouldn't know joy.

I think sometimes things happen for a reason, and sometimes they just happen. Sometimes it is a direct result of God's will, sometimes it's just the course of things. It's not for us to declare which is which -- our responsibility is to respond to each situation in a manner that shows God that we are worthy of the great trust He longs to place in us.

The God I know is a loving Father, not a vengeful monster.

50,000 people are dead in Haiti. We have heard Pat Robertson's response.

What will ours be?


{krista} said...

One of the best written posts I've read in a LONG time! Well said.

imbeingheldhostage said...

My response would be to say that because of a loving Heavenly Father, maybe more aren't dead. In His name people are gathering from all over the world to help-- miracles happen during these tragedies, who would he like to give credit for those? What about the 45,000 Americans that were in Haiti?! Did they make that pact with the Devil as well? I don't understand ignorance, but I really have a hard time tolerating people who claim to speak in His behalf that clearly don't know the same God you and I do.
Brilliant Post Chris-- this is one you should submit to the local papers because it should be read by a larger audience.

Anonymous said...

I am not qualified to comment on the religeous aspect of this post [which is a remarcably sane, well thought out piece of work and one that merits a POTW]but I can comment on the words of Pat Robertson, who, I think must be one of many preachers grown rich on the gullable. Tar and feather him and his ilk on National Television. Organised religion is my bete noir and these charlatons go top of the list.

Does this idiot have no knowledge of the movements of tectonic plates? If so does he think they are the work of the devil? Is he sending a portion of his ill-gotten gains for the relief fund?
Sadly his ridiculous claims add fuel to the fires of hate and discrimination.

Linda said...

This is a great post that succinctly states what is true. These poor people were not punished because of a supposed 'pact with the devil', but because of Adam and Eve. Romans 5:12 says that because of sin, death comes.

This earthquake came because this earth is not perfect. Instead of criticism we need to pray for relief for these people.

Pat Robertson has, once again, given fodder for the world to belittle Christianity.

I came to your blog from "In the Gutter".

Emily said...

Great post. Catastrophes happen in this world as a result of our original sin. When sin was introduced into the world, suffering was as well. Thankfully we have a merciful God who offers us his eternal grace.
Oh, and I think Pat Robertson made a deal with the devil.

Mom24 said...

I think my blood honestly boiled when I heard this. Crazy.

Emmy said...

Beautifully said and written. And you are so right.
I still am in shock that he said that. I wonder how some people were led so far astray.

Terri said...

Thank you Chris. And even though your God and mine have some differences, I couldn't agree more with what you wrote. Yup, ol' Pat has worn out his welcome here. I'd laugh if I didn't think he was dangerous and able to incite violence. It's so hard for me to comprehend that he actually still has a following.

Isn't it ironic, that those Haitians who supposedly made a pact with the devil helped to build this country. And that we continue to exploit their labor and resources to this day.

I posted a short piece by the Haiti ambassador on my other blog.

Lisa said...

I don't know that I could have said it any better. God is still good, ALL THE TIME.

Pam Emmons said...

Publish This. Amen.

Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? said...

Love it, Chris.

If only we were so capable to cause something so terrific by making a deal with the devil. What an ignorant man

Thank goodness, my God, our God is merciful and loving.

Heidi said...

I don't really know how to respond to this. What happened in Haiti is a tradgedy. What was said is offensive.
I feel that people put God into acts that are simply a result of our earth being what it is, a planet, with shifting plates and clouds and weather patterns in the sky. It is a living organisim, it has to shift and move. We unfortunately are at her mercy.
Who can claim to know the will of God? I know that I am not one so brave.
Most of the time we are subject to things that are beyond our control. It's what we do in those moments that will define and shape us. And prove to our master whom we will follow.

Very well written post. Very thought provoking.

Paola said...

Absolutely BRILLIANT!

Ericka said...

wandered over from imbeingheldhostage...

interesting post. that wingnut should have his lips sewn shut - none of his rants make any sense. he had similar things to say about katrina as well, and the world trade center. i fail to understand why the media continues to provide him with a platform for his verbal vomit.

Anonymous said...

A very well "spoken" post. I agree completely.

Aaron said...

I like pie....

...I don't like Pat.

Great 'Christian' attitude. Kick them when they are down instead of doing something Christ would want and 'Strengthen the feeble knees'.

You go Pat.....(and just keep going....)

Kat said...

So perfectly said, Chris. Thank you for this.

I don't believe any suffering comes from God either. I think there is suffering because this is earth and it is not a perfect place. The only perfect place is heaven. Our suffering strengthens us and gives us opportunity to show our better selves, as you said. I think God helps us with our suffering. He IS our strength.

Laura said...

Interesting thoughts. Isn't it wonderful to have the gospel to help us make sense of these tragedies and their place in an eternal plan of a loving Heavenly Father rather than feeling the need to blame someone? Good post.

Mikki said...

I've also come over by way of Imbeingheldhostage.
Great post, so very well said.

painted maypole said...

also came via jeri.

yes, yes, and again yes.

thank you.

Snooty Primadona said...

Pat Robertson has a particular disease known only to the Holier-Than-Thou religious zealots. Not to mention, he's getting on in years & probably losing his mind. (duh) I have never understood this kind of blind ignorance, nor will I ever tolerate it. I think perhaps someone needs to get poor Pat a muzzle, yes?