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Tsunami discussion - God shows his love and mercy

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Chris OConnor

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Tsunami discussion - God shows his love and mercy

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Miracle girl survives tsunami on a doorHow in the hell can people consider this a miracle? Are they on crack? 120,000 people dead so far, and this one girl floats away on a door and we're supposed to get goosebumps thinking God has worked a miracle?I'm happy she survived, but it isn't a miracle. It's basic probability in action. Some people will be smashed apart and others not harmed at all. And then a ton of people will find themselves somewhere in between these two ends of the spectrum.Is God responsible for the death and destruction or just the few stories we're hearing where someone narrowly escaped death?Chris
RickU

Re: Tsunami discussion - God shows his love and mercy

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Why should religious spin differ from political spin? People just want to feel like there is something bigger and better than the existance they see everyday. It's a sad state of denial and an easy thing to hide from the terror they subconciously think they'd otherwise feel. In Vino Veritas
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I don't think that the author of the article was attributing the girl's survival to God. I think that the term was used to describe something good occurring when its occurrence was extremely unlikely. I can't link to this article, since its not available abroad.Rite and Reason: Where was God when the tsunami struck? God suffers with and in humankind, writes Brendan O Cathaoir'Where is God now?" a voice in the crowd asked. The concentration camp inmates were being forced by their Nazi captors to witness the execution of a boy."There he is," replied another prisoner, pointing to the youth dangling agonisingly from the scaffold. It matters little to the victims whether suffering is caused by man's inhumanity or the cruelty of nature.Patsy McGarry is angry with God about the suffering unleashed by the tsunami disaster (Rite and Reason, January 3rd). As Fintan O'Toole remarked the following day, however: "People in poor countries are hugely more vulnerable to the risk of dying in a 'natural' disaster than those in rich countries."Injustice is the main cause of poverty.On the same page as the McGarry article, Bill Gates and Bono struck a hopeful note about seriously reducing the scandal of 30,000 children under the age of five dying in the Third World every day.Tolkien - the author of Lord of the Rings - sometimes felt "appalled at the thought of the sum total of human misery all over the world". He believed, nonetheless, "that evil labours with vast power and perpetual success in vain, preparing always the soil for unexpected good to sprout in".The Indian Ocean catastrophe is leading to an unprecedented outpouring of human solidarity. The Catholic weekly the Tablet commented on the calamity: "Christianity may not have easy answers, but with Christ's suffering and death as the central focus of its worship and doctrine, it cannot be accused of being unaware of the question."McGarry asked: "What sort of God would allow his son to be crucified to appease his own anger?"Faith and doubt are intertwined. It is perplexing that the God who created 400 billion galaxies and is revered by the five great religious traditions as merciful, does not intervene more proactively in human affairs. Ours is a fragile if beautiful world, however, and a God who wills suffering, human or otherwise, does not exist.Teilhard de Chardin, the Jesuit scientist and scholar, reflected that the world evolves at the cost of many failures and casualties: "The sufferers, whatever the nature of their suffering, are the reflection of this austere but noble condition. They are not useless and diminished elements."Furthermore, Christians believe God intervened decisively in human history to share divine life with us. According to St Irenaeus: "Because of his immeasurable love, God became what we are that he might fit us to be what he is."Significantly, the martyrdom of St Stephen is recalled on the day after Christmas - coincidentally the day the tsunami struck.It is part of the Christian tradition that innocent suffering redeems evil. Whenever we pray on behalf of others we in some measure put ourselves in their place. In Gethsemane, Christ takes the place of all creation.But his passion was not a burden God asked him to bear to "make up" for our sins. It was not a price to be paid so that an angry God would relent and allow us back into his friendship. It is rather the reality of where human existence led Christ. And like us, particularly at this tragic time, his faith was tested to the limits.Rene Girard, one of the most influential modern thinkers, observed that Christ represents a breakthrough in human consciousness. By becoming our scapegoat - a victim who should not die - he unmasked the complicity of religion and violence.Prof Girard, who believes also that ending war has become a sine qua non for human survival, urges us to abandon an archaic world view.False images of God fuel religious fanaticism, one of the most malign forces. We need the grace of conversion, Girard asserts, to acknowledge that we have been complicit in excluding the marginalised. Otherwise, "the West will be unable to offer a Christian challenge to sacrificial violence committed in the name of God".If we really listened to the message of Jesus, we would jettison a view that sees God as a cruel manipulator of the human condition. We would discern that he does not want to be feared, but to be recognised in the sufferings of the poor and the weak.Ill-fate - being in the wrong place at the wrong time - is inexplicable. Fifteen years ago, tragedy touched The Irish Times.A former journalist with this newspaper, the Rev Stephen Hilliard, was stabbed to death on January 9th, 1990. Stephen would agree - his widow certainly does - that Christ did not come to explain suffering but to fill it with his presence.Thomas Merton, the Cistercian writer, maintained no one can be holy without being plunged into the mystery of suffering. Donald Nicholl, in his book Holiness, has no illusions about the intrinsic evil of suffering.But being moved by compassion for the afflicted, we discover that in this world joy is inseparable from suffering.Thinking people have the choice of living in mystery or absurdity. "Gloom is no Christian temper," John Henry Newman insists. "We must live in sunshine, even when we sorrow."The ultimate paradox is believing in a God of compassion, who has no other hands but ours to alleviate suffering.Dr Brendan O Cathaoir is a historian and a journalist with The Irish Times.
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"I think that the term was used to describe something good occurring when its occurrence was extremely unlikely."Actually, it is extremely likely that something like that did occur. + Doc: "In some way, it is a bit ironic that we must try to be more stupid to obtain salvation."MA: "I can't think of a better way to convince a group of critical thinkers of the worthlessness of faith."
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I agree, but most people would interpret it in another way. Let us agree, there is no one single reality. Not upon this stage, not in this world, all is in the mind... imagination is the only truth. Because it cannot be contradicted except by other imaginations - Richard MathesonThere are no conclusive indications by which waking life can be distinguished from sleep - Rene Descartes
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