Thinking Out Loud

July 9, 2012

Flood, Fire and Famine

Satellite picture for New Orleans, July 9, 9:10 AM EST

On the three dominant American television networks, weather stories have consumed much attention for the first half of 2012, and arguably have been increasing over the past several years.

Are things truly getting worse or does the media simply bring existing conditions into sharper focus?

While some like to argue with the sensationalism needed to earn ratings for the networks’ 6:30 PM newscasts, there is nothing subjective about terms like “record heat,” “record rainfall,” or “record drought.”

Furthermore, because of our modern dependence on technology, the winds, the fires, the ice storms, or the simply strain of air conditioning systems all result in knocking out electrical power systems; leaving people either shivering in winter or baking in the summer heat.

Last year around this time, I wrote in response to those who — somewhat rightly, I believe — see changing weather patterns as a sign of the end times. Just a  few months before that, I touched on the issue of weather as a sign of God’s judgment, in this case, specifically against the United States, one assumes. The same week, I also wrote on the need to pray, the need to beg God for mercy.

In 2009, Greg Boyd did a brief teaching on the weather in the context of a discussion of the problem of evil.  (A Saturday night service when guest speaker Rob Bell could only make it on the Sunday.)  The local context involved a series of four tornadoes, one of which toppled the steeple of a Lutheran Church at the very same time as the denomination was debating a controversial issue, causing a local pastor to say that the storm damage was a warning to that denomination.

The discussion is during the first fifteen minutes; you can watch the message here. Boyd is very cautious about trying to read too much into the effects of weather phenomena: “It’s like reading tea leaves.” He points out that when the disciples find themselves caught at sea in a storm, Jesus, normally depicted as ‘in charge’ of the weather, actually rebukes the storm, using the same word that he would use when silencing a demon. Boyd asks, “If Jesus was in charge of the storm, why did he need to rebuke it?”

Still, there is no denying that the United States is seeing a number of modern day plagues, and since it was God himself that sent the plagues to Egypt, it is certainly easy to jump to similar conclusions with weather signs, especially when, as happened a decade ago, a California earthquake was centered on an area known for the production of pornography. (Of course, the country as a whole — without geographic distinction — is guilty of much consumption of pornography.) 

So I must share Boyd’s caution about reading too much into the weather; which brings me back to simply invoking God’s mercy:

God, please have mercy on the people of the United States…  Yes, use the weather to draw people to yourself, to consider the end-times imperative, and to tremble at the power of creation itself; but at the same time, we petition you for intervention that would decrease the horror and pain and loss that is being experienced right now.  You are God, you are Holy, your ways are higher than ours, but according to you covenant love for us, Lord, have mercy.

1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on GoodOleWoody's Blog and Website.

    Comment by goodolewoody — July 9, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

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