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Determining God’s Wrath

Timothy Kincaid

November 18th, 2008

There is a long tradition amongst religious zealots to read disaster as an evidence of God’s wrath. So it is not too surprising that ex-gay gadfly James Hartline had declared that the fires burning across Southern California are caused by God’s vengeance against evil homosexuals.

I tend to take James with a combination of amusement and annoyance, but mostly with pity. Though intelligent, Hartline’s mental state tends to result in hallucinations, bouts of paranoia, and wild eyed pronouncements all underlined by delusions about his role in the universe. Sadly, too many anti-gays or the more extreme variety encourage James and his wactivist efforts. It really isn’t kind of them.

But supposing that we could determine something from the fires raging, what could we determine that God was saying?

The areas hardest hit are in Santa Barbara County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County.

Orange County voted 57.8% in favor of Proposition 8. Those cities most effected voted even more in opposition to equality: Yorba Linda 65.9%, Anaheim 62.5%, Brea 62.6%. In contrast, the city of Irvine which voted 50.8% against the proposition seems to have been spared.

As for Riverside County and San Bernardino county, they voted for Prop 8 by 64.3% and 66.9%, respectively. I don’t have the city breakdown, but those areas threatened are among the more conservative.

On the other hand, Santa Barbara County is the only Southern California county to reject the amendment. And if their voting patterns matched other counties, Montecito, a wealthy enclave, is likely to have been strongly in opposition.

So it’s really hard to tell if God is punishing those who voted for Prop 8 or those who voted against it. And if these fires are to warn the gay community against protesting, none of the areas affected are much more or much less involved in protest than those not hit by fire.

Which tells me that those who look for God’s hand in natural disasters can read just about anything they like into such events. I prefer not to see such things as a revelation of God’s will or to call my neighbors into judgment over a fire, earthquake or flood. Perhaps I take more seriously the commandment not to take God’s name in vain.

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L. Junius Brutus
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

All nonsense! This is the wrath of Zeus against the modern world for no longer holding sacrifices for him. Why can’t people see something that is so obvious?

elaygee
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

No it’s the anger of Ganesh the elephant headed god who carries the earthon his back. he is much angered by this false worship of Xtians.

David C.
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

Quick, sacrifice a virgin! Or switch to virgin olive oil.

Jaft
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

LOVE that last line, Tim. Totally made my day.

kevin
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

You know, as someone who has read the Gospels, I just don’t see how you can profess to be a Christian and ignore a very profound passage that appears at least 3 times in the New Testament…

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:44-45

That’s not just one phrase out of many, it’s one of the major THEMES in the Gospels and is an ACTUAL, authentic saying of Jesus.

Do these people even care about what Jesus had to say or do just make things up as they go along?

Kristi
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

Since God’s preferred method of expressing his wrath when people go against his will is by raining down judgement by fire or some other natural disaster, why hasn’t he expressed himself similarly in Connecticut? or Massachussetts? Or Canada, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, South Africa and Norway? Hmmm…

TJ McFisty
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

Kevin, didn’t Jesus say something about following his word being the hardest thing or, at least, something difficult to do? Memory’s foggy on that.

If so, then he was right on that, also.

I do recall him also saying he came to destroy the family and had a bad relationship with his parents, but well, that’s just as overlooked. Stuff for Jesus scholars only, I guess.

kevin
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

TJ: I think what you’re thinking of is this…

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

Or perhaps this?

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ Matthew 7:21-23

Richard Rush
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

Either way (pro-gay or anti-gay), if a god had a hand in causing the fires, he’s a psychopathic wackjob that millions of people choose to worship.

I have some familiarity with these nuts. My own mother thought Hurricane Katrina was a god’s punishment. I love her, but she’s a religious nut.

Timothy Kincaid
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

kevin

Do these people even care about what Jesus had to say or do just make things up as they go along?

I can’t help but think that for many conservative Christians Jesus is a collossal pain in the ass.

Yeah, they’re glad he died, but couldn’t he have kept his mouth shut? I mean all that stuff about loving your neighbor and doing good and caring for the less fortunate, sheesh. And the 25th Chapter of Matthew.. ugh, get rid of it; in it Jesus says that being decent to others is more important than being all religious.

Now Paul, on the other hand. He’d make a perfectly good savior. He said all sorts of things that could interpreted as keeping women subjugated and slavery in place and maybe (if you squint) even telling gays to go straight.

You know what kind of Christian you’re dealing with when the only use they can find in Jesus is Christmas and Easter.

Scott
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

Once James is finally on his deathbed, it won’t surprise me if his current supporters (Chastity Pariah, etc.) surround him and tell him that what’s happening is God’s judgement “for all those years of sinful homosexual behavior”.

He forgets the pack he runs with lives to act “holier than thou” – even towards their own. And they could care less about puppets like James.

kevin
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

Yeah, I know what you’re saying Tim.

I think most self-proclaimed Christians, even liberal Christians, get Jesus wrong (down to what his name actually is – Yeshua the Messiah) and almost everyone who uses the bible to argue a point has an agenda, myself included.

Christianity in America is a competing marketplace of ideas full of entrepreneuers, kinda like a big giant God Supermarket. People like myself steer clear of the middle aisles that contain all of the shelf-stable, high in sugar, nutrionally suspect products and try to stick to the margins, where the whole foods are.

If we were to find James Hartline on one of the shelves, I think he’d be a sugar-frosted, Pop Tart (that’s gone rancid).

On Paul, I think scholarship is changing the perspective we’ve had about Paul for many centuries. Garry Wills has a book called “What Paul Meant” that attempts to salvage Paul’s reputation for liberal Christians, such as Paul not being mysogynistic whatsoever or totally hung up on sex.

We’ll never know what the early Church left out of the canon, what they changed, or what was written by Paul and what was attributed to Paul. But even if you consider Paul to have hijacked the Religion Of Jesus and perverted it into the Religion About Jesus as How Paul Interprets It, Paul’s observations about faith and community still contain valuable lessons.

Timothy Kincaid
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

Paul was a pramatist trying to herd cats. Sadly, the modern church has turned all of his remonstrations of the faithful into denunciation of everyone else.

Buffy
November 18th, 2008 | LINK

I feel myself quoting Susan B. Anthony more frequently these days:

“I distrust those people who
know so well what God wants
because I notice it always coincides
with their own desires.”

BTW, do you ever wonder why people never blame the routine flooding of the Mississippi River on “God’s Wrath” against people in the region?

Ephilei
November 19th, 2008 | LINK

So Prop 8 passes and God regins down fire? Clearly God must be against prop 8!

Since joining the Eastern Orthodox Church, I’ve found it interesting realizing that the Wrath of God concept wasn’t articulated until Martin Luther and has no place in Orthodox theology. Christian theology would be much better without theologians.

Jennifer
November 21st, 2008 | LINK

Doesn’t he know we don’t use fire?

We make the hurricanes.

Timothy Kincaid
November 21st, 2008 | LINK

Christian theology would be much better without theologians.

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