Storms

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I snapped this photo during Hurricane Charley when I lived in Miami.

A few years ago, I realized that I loved people too much be a Christian. This conclusion impacted my personal life so strongly, that I decided to write a book about it, a book which will soon be launched into the world. I’m not ready, I’ll confess. I’m scared to open my story and my thoughts for the world to read. I’m afraid of the negative, hurtful, and downright hateful comments that will inevitably poke their way into my previously safe worlds of virtual and real interactions. But I believe it’s a story that needs to be told. My love for my human family, my child, the earth, myself, the marginalized, and the oppressed outweighs my insecurity.

I wasn’t ready to start this blog, either. I’m both under-experienced and overwhelmed, a potentially hazardous concoction that is also my familiar prelude to new ventures. However, in light of Hurricane Irma and my love for those it is impacting, I have some thoughts that won’t sit quietly in a corner while I polish up on my blogging skills. I’m begging them to behave, and they’re blatantly ignoring me as I type this.

Hurricane Irma, following the tradition of many storms, has dredged up a smidgen of religion everywhere you look. Everybody is praying for somebody. That’s not too bad. (Is it?) Some are reminding the world that the end times are near and this is all part of God’s plan. (Hmmm.) Others are pinning the blame on specific groups of people that God is obviously targeting for their sinful ways. (Yikes.) While my loved ones are preparing to battle it out with Hurricane Irma, bracing for the emotional, physical, and financial devastation she will leave in her wake, many Christians are responding in one of those three ways, both in social media comments and in passing conversation. In response to a tragedy, not one of these approaches is helpful. In fact, each is harmful.

The notion that natural disasters are increasing, thus signifying the end times, is false. Scientists have not noted any change in the frequency of earthquakes over the last million years. The damaging effects of hurricanes have increased due only to the fact that more people live in coastal climates and there is greater infrastructure on which to wreak havoc (1 ). In addition, there are natural cycles in climate and weather that increase natural disasters for years, sometimes decades or centuries at a time. What appears to be a steady increase in stormy weather patterns, is often just part of this cycle. Lastly, the Internet itself harbors the most influential contribution to the “end times myth.” Our access to information has increased exponentially, feeding into the mistaken perception that there are more tragedies now than ever before. In fact, it is not the number of tragedies that have increased, but the number of them that come to our attention.

The concept, whether spoken or implied, that humans bring natural disasters upon themselves due to their sin, their lack of faithfulness to God, their religious affiliation or sexual orientation is appalling and unacceptable. It defies all logic that, in the year 2017, anyone would subscribe to this ridiculous and dangerous belief. Not only is it incredibly dismissive of another’s tragedy and sorrow, it also runs counter to every logical, scientifical, and mathematical calculation about our world. 161 million children under five face starvation worldwide (2 ). Many of these children are already malnourished before they are born. Please tell me what these children did to bring God’s wrath upon themselves. God doesn’t appear to stratify them according to their religious beliefs.

Ironically, prayer (which seems so benign) feeds off of this exact same notion. If we pray hard enough, God will turn the storm away from us. He will send it somewhere else. We will be saved, because of our faithfulness. God will strike down another family, someone else’s children, someone of another faith, someone who didn’t pray as hard as we did, someone who deserves it. 

It’s cruel to thank God for saving you from a storm when that storm is bound for another region. It’s exactly like telling the victims, “God doesn’t love you enough keep you safe. Maybe you did something wrong. Obviously, he can save people, and he did. He saved us. You, on the other hand, are insignificant.”  Likewise, praying for a storm to veer away, is perforce praying that the storm will strike elsewhere. Imagine, for a moment, that family that you are praying the storm will hit. Let’s say she’s a single mother, huddled in her children’s bedroom, hugging them, shaking and afraid. If prayers were scientifically proven to work (they aren’t), your prayers would be sending the storm to that mother’s house. If that thought weighs heavily on your heart, maybe you can embrace how improbable it is that a loving father God is sitting somewhere, picking and choosing who’s going to die, according to their prayer patterns.

Not because it’s ineffective (it is), but because it can also be emotionally hurtful to victims, I would suggest not responding to natural disasters with prayer. If you’re looking for a way to replace prayer, I will offer four effective strategies for assisting during tragedies like Hurricane Irma. I’m sure there are many more. (Please comment!)

  1. Reach out to at least one person who has been affected by the storm, and extend the availability of your home, your money, or your physical help.
  2. Raise awareness or funds for a group in need, through use of social media.
  3. Check the Internet for local charities that are collecting for hurricane victims, and donate clothes, food, or money directly to those in need.
  4. Equip yourself and others to be prepared for storms, seek shelter, and access aid, by researching, learning, and sharing what you know.

I hope you enjoyed my very first blog, and that you continue to follow me as I gently uncover and debate the logic and validity of Christianity. Please know that I respect your opinions and value your participation in this conversation. Let’s show each other respect in the comments, as well, by not making blanket statements about any group of people and avoiding (whenever possible) statements that directly insult the opinions, traditions, and moral codes that are so precious and unique to each individual.

Thanks for reading, and to those facing the storm, stay safe!

 

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31 thoughts on “Storms

  1. A very insightful first post! I also like your blog tittle a lot; yes, love over religion. Indeed, as you wrote, religion should not be about ‘harming others’.However, I think we must also be careful not to judge people (not saying you do!) who turn to (a) God and feel better, more confident, etc. by praying.
    Looking forward to more articles written by you.
    Kind regards from a neighbor on our globe,
    XxX

    Like

    1. I agree that prayer empowers some people, in the way that meditation and exercise empower others. I also recognize that there’s a comfort in tossing out the phrase, “I’m praying for you,” or, “Praying for Florida.” In fact, I’ve struggled a lot this past week to come up with alternate responses! It’s rewarding, though, to reflect on the fact that I ended up offering concrete help to real people, in the space I would have filled with prayer. Thank you so much for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure!.
        As an alternative, I use ‘sending you lots of strength and/or (healing) energy’, since I believe we are all connected via the same energy. Yes, I think you are on to something: do/act instead of saying/praying. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A few years ago, I realized that I loved people too much be a Christian.

    Now that’s a narrative hook! You write superbly.

    When it comes to religion, we humans are indeed a funny lot. Without a moment’s hesitation, I’d build an entire museum around a single human hand, and right next door, I’d erect a mausoleum to house its pair. Above the door to the museum I’d place a sign titled The Greatest Question Ever Asked: What can I do to help? And above the door to the mausoleum would be an identical sign titled, The Four Most Heartbreaking Words Ever Spoken: God is in control

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! No. My books are not humanist, but pure mischief; an exercise in Poe’s Law, a parody of extremism.

        The first sentence in the first reads:

        If we find a bomb carefully concealed in a kindergarten, primed and set to detonate when it would wreak the greatest possible carnage, we would assume, in all reasonableness, that someone vicious and vile—someone exquisitely evil—had designed the device and had purposefully put it there, positioned as such to maximise suffering and misery and mayhem.

        And the first sentence in the second reads:

        Curiosity is a stubborn power.

        I like your writing style. It’s smart and conversational, and that’s desperately hard to do well.

        When’s your book come out?

        BTW, you need a Follow Blog by Email widget thing.

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  3. I’m very intrigued. Where can I find your books? Mine will be out, hopefully, this week. It is titled Love over Religion, just like the blog. It began as a personal letter and grew into something much more meaningful. Thank you for your kind words and very helpful blog tip. I’m going to get on that now. 😉

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    1. Amazon (click on the cover icons on the right hand side of my blog and that should take you there). You don’t have to, though. They’re written primarily to drive Christian philosophers nuts 🙂

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      1. Finally, finally, finally got space to get into your book last week, and LOVED it. You have a gift for writing, and writing to the reader. That’s rare.

        Penned a review, just put it up, but it’s awaiting approaval. Hope it works OK. I put it on Amazon.com, but I bought the book through Amazon.br. Shouldn’t be a problem, but Amazon can be a little weird sometimes with reviews.

        Again, superb work. It deserves a huge readership.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, thank you so much! I will keep my eye out for it. I am actually into your book finally as well! I am loving the dark sarcasm and the poetic language. I am totally digging the premise. It’s almost an obvious conclusion, if “god” is real, haha!!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with the others–good post. I’ve had the same thoughts regarding those prayers that “change the storm’s path.” Or any other prayers, for that matter. I’m really interested in reading your book, and maybe John Zande’s, too!

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    1. Thank you so much! I would be honored if you picked up a copy. It’s available on Kindle as well. I’d be interested in keeping in touch with you, and getting your feedback after you read it. I’d also like to hear more of your story, so please stay connected!

      Like

      1. There is a Kindle version for sale, as well. It should be listed right there underneath “read for free” where it says “buy with one click.” I’m not very savvy about that, though. If there are any snafus, I am more than happy to get a complimentary copy over to you.

        Like

      2. Thank you for the offer, cut I don’t at all mind paying for a copy!

        Re: the section you’re referencing — when you click on it, Amazon wants the buyer to sign up for the Kindle Unlimited. You get a 30-day free account, but I’d rather just pay for a regular Kindle edition. Suggest you access your account to see if you can change this to a regular Kindle.

        BTW, I know from experience this publishing stuff can get complicated!

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      3. YES! I was looking so intently at the “Kindle” box, I didn’t see the “to buy” option under it. Sorry about that. Buying now … and looking forward to the read. (Thanks for your patience.)

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  5. You wrote, ” … maybe you can embrace how improbable it is that a loving father God is sitting somewhere, picking and choosing who’s going to die, according to their prayer patterns.”

    Powerful statement! Too bad we can’t say it in person. Well, I suppose we could, but we might get lynched or run out of town (especially in the South).

    Also … beautiful pictures! Seems writing is not your only talent.

    Liked by 1 person

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