The horrific tsunami has come and gone with its unimaginable disaster and destruction over vast areas of South Asia. As people are slowly trying to get back on their feet, they and the rest of the world are attempting to understand how this could have happened. Beyond the scientific explanation of massive tectonic plate shifting, there are the theological questions that have been spawned in the tsunami's devastation. How could God do this or allow this to happen? Perhaps, it is time to do some tsunami theology for dummies-because a lot of dumb theological things are being said about this event.
It is obvious that this disaster has cut across all religious faiths without any one religion having been spared. Every major world religion and many minor faiths have lost large numbers of believers. For most causal observers, no one religion can take any solace of being spared due to their supposed "true faith."
In spite of cutting across all religious beliefs, the truly dumbest theological statement that I heard in the wake of the tsunami was made by a white, American woman in her mid-twenties who avoided being counted with the tens of thousands less fortunate. Upon her return to the States, she ascribed her escaping the fate of so many others to her God saving her. While we don't normally make the soundest theological statements having just avoided such a traumatic event, she and her listeners need nonetheless to reexamine her theology. It is way off the mark.
Think about how that statement sounds. Here is a young, white Christian, affluent, American tourist, who believes that God hovered over the raging tower of cascading water, spotted her amongst the hundreds of thousands facing drowning, and intervened on her behalf to rescue her. What is wrong with that belief? Do you really think that God selected this one gal for rescue? I'd like to know what she did or believed to have this special deus ex machina treatment from God.
What does that theological picture paint for us? God rescues someone who can afford to vacation in some Asian paradise and allows tens of thousands of others to perish-mothers who couldn't save their children or fathers who couldn't protect their families already on the lowest rung of the poverty ladder. Get real.
Allow me to offer a primer of
tsunami theology for dummies. We all need to take this primer before we fail
our theology of life.
In closing, it is numerically highly unlikely that many of us will face catastrophic natural disasters like tsunamis, but it is for certain that we have and will face personal tragedies that will sweep into our lives. We need to think and rethink our thoughts about God before the next horrific event in our lives.
This article appeared in the Dixon Telegraph on 2/11/05.