Monday, October 30, 2006

Christian apathy

Every so often, I’m face with a situation that leaves me speechless. This happens to be one of those times…

Yesterday, I went to see my grandmother in the hospital (for the record, she’s doing well. But, please keep us in your prayers). While I was there, I ran into my ex-girlfriend’s mother; who apparently is an employee at that particular hospital.

From dating this girl, I sorta picked up on small hints that her parents were crazy. Between people warning me and me finding some things out on my own, I was quick to discover that many of their ideals, though Biblically inspired (I guess), were waaay “out there” but; at the same time; disturbingly traditional. That said, it was pretty reasonable to assume that – by the end of our conversation – she would say something stupid. But I wasn’t at all prepared for what I was about to hear.

The conversation started off well enough. She gave me an update on her daughter (my ex) who recently moved out of state. She mentioned that my ex would be in town for the holidays and invited me to join them for dinner. I politely declined; informing her that my sister and I will be in New Orleans to volunteer in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. After she heard the news about our New Orleans plans, her mood quickly changed. After scoffing at me for a second, she angrily replied (get ready for this…): “I don’t know what you’re doing going down there. They (the people of New Orleans) got what they deserved.”

I was floored.

Did I hear her correctly?

She went on to explain to me that God had unleashed His anger on the city because of their sinfulness. For me to “get involved” was to stand in the way of God’s punishment of the city. For that, she argued, He would not be pleased.

After picking my jaw up from the floor (I’ve still got the bruise on my jaw to prove how hard it hit), my initial response to her comments was to ask if she was serious. But with the conviction in her tone, I already knew the answer. Instead, the only thing I was able to push out was:

“Uh…you do know that every city in world lives in sin, right?”

“Well yeah. But that’s not the point.”

“Uh…you do know that there are many saved people in New Orleans, right?”

“Well yeah. But that’s not the point either.”

The fact is: I didn’t know what her point was. All I heard from her initial comments and her subsequent explanation was that New Orleans was sinful (with Mardi Gras, gambling, and…as she puts it… “voodoo”), God was punishing them for it, and for me to get involved by helping others is a sin in and of itself. Any other “points” she made were lost in those statements.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that someone has made this argument. As I pointed out before, Pat Robertson also made a bold and audacious accusation that God allowed the destruction of New Orleans to commence because of the city’s wrongdoing. But Pat Robertson is an idiot. I would expect that from him. But to hear cruel statements like that being uttered from her mouth was unnerving; even for someone as notoriously surreal as she is.

Hundreds of people were killed. Tens of thousands more lost everything they had. Hundreds of thousands were displaced. To say that they “deserved” this is a clear indication of ignorance to God’s word. (1) If you want to use the Sodom and Gomorrah juxtaposition, let me remind you that (a) there were none found righteous in those cities and (b) the vengeful curse of sin was lifted when a certain Savior of ours said “It is finished, and (c) if she’s correct, then Hollywood, Las Vegas, Miami, and Washington D.C. would have been destroyed long before New Orleans was. Need I remind you that my hometown of Flint, MI has one of the highest crime rates in the country? Geez. Are we next?

It bothers me to see that not only are some people completely non-responsive to the suffering of others, but that they also feel Biblically justified for having those thoughts. Nevermind the fact that, as the prophet Isaiah reminds us, we will never be able to fully understand God’s ways. Nevermind the fact that not everyone in New Orleans participated in the “evil” activity that was apparently worthy of mass destruction (don't give me the "raining on the just as well as the unjust" line. It wouldn't be used in the correct context here). To watch people like Robertson and this lady point fingers and vilify “the least of these” as they suffer makes my blood boil. A disaster could happen to any one of us. There isn't a single person I know who does not 'deserve' God's punishment. But it's through His grace that we are sustained. We continue to be blessed in spite of who we are. Yet sadly, many so-called Christians lose sight of that.

Forget the Devil. It’s starting to become abundantly clear to me that dangerous religious folks are – by far – the biggest enemy out there to Christ.

- ACL

13 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

-n said...

...and this woman is employed @ a hospital?!? I sincerely hope that she's working in the service portion of it, & not practicing medicine/nursing in any form.

Joslyn said...

Hey Andre,

I WOULD call you to talk about this post but lately, my calls have been "brutally rebuffed." (Gotta Watch Clueless!)

Anywho, first off let me comend you and your sis for going to Nawlins' for Christmas! I would LOVE an opportunity to go! My boss just came back from a week there with her church, and she said that people are actually seeking emotional counseling for what they saw, so BE PREPARED!

Now, on to the topic. I'm laughing because you and I both know that this lady is crazy! It's very sad that extremists have to view sins in this manner. So the next time something tragic happens in her life, it's because of a horrible sin that she's committed????

Unfortunately, I've encountered this belief with a lot of "old school" Christians. I think that our parents generations were primarily taught that God is this Mean, vengeful,being that we should fear in the same way that we fear scary movies. However, i will have to agree that any time that something tragic like that happens that IT IS God speaking, he just might not be saying what WE think he's saying. Instead of condeming us for our sins, he may have been trying to show us just how much we need one another, and how everything can change in the blink of His Almighy eye.

Whelp, back to work!

Joslyn said...

*ONE MORE SIDE NOTE*

After thinking about it some more, I came up with this:

Even IF God did cause the hurricanes because all of the sins & such, isn't it STILL our duty to help out one another? According to her, we should just stand and shake our heads in disgust?!

*Getting Angry thinking about her stupidity*

Again, Andre: Kudos to you and your sis for going....God will Truly Bless you.

:)

KC said...

I agree with Joslyn. Most of the time, people like this won't change. They'll continue to view God through the eyes of some old traditional ways and won't be willing to look at Him or the world differently. But I think that many people in the world are starting to realize that this narrow mindedness only represents a fraction of "Christians".

Good post.

thehc said...

Hey Andre,
You know, I always wondered how God could allow so much bad to be done in his name, or how he could allow children to suffer horrible abuse. I've now come to the conclusion that the devil, not God is in these people. Think about it. Isn't it perfectly likely that the devil would use people within religion to mislead people? I mean, look how often Dems and Reps alike use people from the other side of the aisle to prove their points. Infiltrating the enemy is the oldest trick in the book. These people are being mislead, pity them, don't judge true christians by them.

a woman Thinking out Loud said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diane said...

So by that woman's reasoning, since you KNOW that Flint has such a high crime rate, i.e. SIN, and you choose to remain there....If some kind of disaster strikes Flint, then you deserve whatever befalls you, right??

Glory be, some people have a twisted reasoning, that's for sure!! I know I'm in mortal danger. ;D

So you were impressed with the Halloween video cartoon I sent you? ;D

Have a good week, Andre. :-)

Natasha said...

A great post to describe a not-so-great situation.

I'm sorry you had to take part in that. But it's good to know that the actions of people like that don't really demonstrate the true love of God. I guess that all you can do is pray for them.

Andre said...

@ -n (short for JOSLY-n?): Evidenced by the type of work she was doing, I'd say it was more service related. She was prepping rooms for incoming patients (sanitizing the room, mopping the floors, etc.) Thank God! I'd hate to see how she'd respond as a practitioner.

@ Joslyn (the DEFINITE one): Sorry pimp. Been extremely busy lately. I just manage to pluck out enough time to post and that's about it.

Anyway, I'm excited about going to Nawlins. It'll be my first time down there since Katrina and I'm eagered to help wherever I can. One of my colleagues in Ann Arbor did some research down there and he warned me about what I'm to expect. All the more reason to stay prayed up!

Back to pyscho mom: I think it's important to have good, sound doctrine; even if its in the traditional fiber. But I refuse to believe that God wants us to turn our nose up at helping others...even if they're "sinful". I wouldn't want God (or his "followers") turning me down just because THEY thought my actions warranted my punishment. Besides that, what does that say to people like her who are ALSO sinners? Does that mean that God should punish her too?! Hmmm...

You're right: her ass is crazy.

@ KC: I think we have to be careful not to look down on her and other 'traditionalists' too much. Otherwise, we'll be no better than they are. But, I definitely get your point.

@ HC: Welcome back, my man. How was your vacation? Got any posts to share before the election? Hmm?

Anyway, you raise an interesting point. Allow me to offer my insight:

One of the things that is important to understand about Christianity (but is very seldomly taught effectively) is the difference between God's will and God's permissible will. In other words: what God wants versus what God ALLOWS.

The Bible teaches us that it is not God's will that ANY should perish (2 Peter 3:9). Though this verse is translated to mean suffering eternal death (in hell), it also applies to our day-to-day living. The fact is: God didn't want Katrina to happen, but He DID ALLOW IT. So in that respect, the lady WAS right. But where she and Pat Robertson got it wrong was when they said that God allowed it to happen BECAUSE...

The fact is: none of us knows why New Orleans was destroyed; other than because the levee system sucked. To say that God did this BECAUSE (fill in your reason) is irresponsible for ANY of us to do. For all I know, God allow this to happen to speak to the REST of the nation and not just New Orleans. For all I know, He wanted America to recognize his power.

As I always say, we need to be careful when attributing things to God. Hope that makes sense.

By the way, your blog is down again...

@ Di: If this lady's theory is true and New Orleans deserved this, then we're all doomed. But thankfully, God's grace is far more sufficient that man's.

I actually loved your Halloween email. It was a bit disgusting; but entertaining nonetheless. Hope you have a nice Halloween!

@ Natasha: Well put, Tash. Scary Christians suck.

thehc said...

Hey Dre,
Thanks. The vacation was great! Colorado is beautiful! The sweet smell of sage is still lingering on some of my coats. If you really want to see the beauty of God's work and be taught the insigificance of our own problems, spend time in the mountains. 8,642 ft. closer to God is how I spent it. We hunted everyday and were humiliated by both Mule Deer and Elk. (I did get one however, I'll bring you by some jerky if your interested) Coyotes were everywhere and getting to be quite a problem. One night I had the interesting experience of fighting several of them off my deer. As far as the election. I have my post and predictions ready to go as soon as %$$^^&*(@@!% iblogs lets me put it up. Thanks for the theology lesson. It's not at all my strong suit, but I'm getting more interested thanks to a well versed blogger friend I have. I spent some time thinking about my veiws on religion and was suprised to find that I might be a Jew. Who knew? I don't even have any savings.

Joslyn said...

Sorry Andre,

-n wasn't me. I already knew which part of the hospital she worked in :)

Peace

Joanne said...

It's so sad that so-called Christians are out there hurting the very people whom they need to be elevating the most.

I'm sorry to have read this post, but I needed to. I think we all needed to hear stories like this to remind us of how great our challenges are in living out God's word. Good one, my brother.

Marianita said...

OH MY!

That is an awful thing she said, for sure.

As someone who doesn't believe in a punishing, fear inspiring God, comments like that just make me roll my eyes.

Way to go with saying my two homes (Miami and DC) are sin-centrals!