Saturday, September 24, 2005
blaming the afflicted for their affliction


Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

"As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.'

Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent).

So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
John 9:1-7

.:.

When the tsunami hit SE Asia and when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, there was a large amount of talk in conservative / "Christian" circles about the natural disasters being sent from God. For some people, viewing the images of suffering Asians and crowds of dispossessed Black people was an indication that God had "judged them" and decided to inflict those disasters for the sins of the people of those regions.

Senator Richard H. Baker, a 10-term white Republican from Baton Rouge was overhead saying this about the Hurricane Katrina disaster:

"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did it.

Uh-huh, riiiight.

While I'm not disputing that the Bible doesn't contain stories of God's judgement against people using disasters (the Flood, Sodom & Gomorrah) I would argue that the obvious motivation behind people's thinking that these disasters are from Heaven is white racism rather than reverence for God. Many conservative white 'Christians' in their minds say, "If they're not white or Christian, too bad... F*CK 'EM." but out loud, they self-censor by simply commenting that it must have been "God".

Funny how none of these comments have come up with Hurricane Rita hitting Texas. Big surprise, right? God would never punish Texas, it's white AND Christian! Instead, some white conservatives have concluded that the Japanese Yakuza are responsible for the hurricanes - using a machine they stole from the Russians, of course. That's right, those tricky Japanese are still sore over that whole Hiroshima and Nagasaki thing.

.:.

While I do believe that God does work through the natural world, I always remember the passage I posted above from John whenever I hear people quickly pronounce the latest circumstances in the world are due to divine judgement. The disciples, reacting in a worldy matter, assumed that the man's blindness was the fault of himself or his parents, but Jesus rebuked them and instead, took the time to heal the man. The impact of Jesus' example in the story is a heavy one for anybody who claims to be a true follower of God and it carries with it 2 important lessons:

1. Not everybody who suffers deserves to;
2. That it our responsibility to be agents of positive change in a world filled with injustice.

That's why I agree with other bloggers like David and Jeff that a requirement of a true faith in God is a participation and interest in social justice. Movements like Sojourners are a great start, but they're still far from mainstream. If Christians really claim to be the carriers of God's love for humanity, why has servanthood and sacrificial living for the sake of others become so divorced from the "Christianity" of Western civilization? If America is a country of equal opportunity, why is there so much inequality?

Part of the answer lies with the vices of selfishness, laziness, and again, the racism that exists covertly on both a personal and systemic level. As long as America fails to deal with those issues, we ignore our own complicity in the perpetuation of the broken world we live in today.

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Comments:
I love your work. It's about time we progressive Christians took back the agenda.
 
"For some people, viewing the images of suffering Asians and crowds of dispossed Black people was an indication that God had "judged them" and decided to inflict those disasters for the sins of the people of those regions."

that's about as far from the truth as can be. pharisees. it just brings out the sinfulness and self-righteousness that occupies the hearts of men.
 
what are you talking about, it was israel that caused the hurricane. :P

http://www.elijahlist.com/words/display_word.html?ID=3369
 
Steve- thx.

Jerm- yeah, it's wack, eh?

Yung- haha.
 
No, everyone knows the hurricane was whipped up by the Republicans to kill all the black people.

"Many black leaders have said that this [the response to Hurricane Katrina] is an example of black genocide.� �A reporter at a Hurricane Katrina press conference held by the Congressional Black Caucus

�There�s going to be plenty of time to make [hurricane recovery] a racist issue, and I�m going to do it.� �Congresswoman Diane Watson, responding to the question.
 
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in?scrip?tion (n-skrip-shun)n.
1. The act or an instance of inscribing.
2. Something, such as the wording on a coin, medal, monument, or seal, that is inscribed.
3. A short, signed message in a book or on a photograph given as a gift.
4. The usually informal dedication of an artistic work.
5. Jeremiah 31:33

the facts.
name. Gar AKA "that Chinese guy" "Sleepy.McSleeping"
ethnicity/nationality. Chinese/American, 4th gen.
location. Sea-Town, WA, USA Kawanishi, JAPAN
occupation. less-cynical poor grad student
age. younger than you think, older than you know

 



 

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