Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

“Haitians worshiping God in spite of horrors… Amazing!”

Posted by Paulo on March 29, 2010

Every once in a while, for some reason, my mother forwards me these newsletters from missionaries she knows. One such letter came in my inbox today. It was about a pilot who went to Haiti to help with the relief effort right after the big earthquake struck earlier this year. Now, the letter is somewhat private and it explicitly requests on the bottom not to pass it around without permission, so unfortunately I cannot show you the letter, but I will permit myself to quote you some of the things that were in it.

The pilot, who arrived 5 days after the earthquake, was involved in setting up some kind of relief equipment around the city. He describes the technical aspects of the work and the challenges they were facing. It was interesting enough, and I was glad to hear about the work that people like him were doing to help survivors.

I was a bit puzzled by a sentence in which he states he “was firsthand witness that God was there during it all and had not turned His back on the Haitians.” What did he mean by this? I can only assume that somewhere people were of the opinion that the earthquake happened because “God turned his back on the Haitians,” presumably because of some kind of national sin.

It’s bad enough having jackasses like Pat Robertson accusing the Haitians of making “a pact with the Devil,” but is it just me, or do I get the feeling that some Christians believe this idea that the earthquake somehow happened because the Lord “turned his back on Haiti?” I guess it’s not too hard to convince yourself of that if you really believe God is in control of everything.

The pilot then goes on describing how out of all the chaos “some good still came of it,” such as how one bartender who came to help with the relief effort found the Lord through some missionaries, and how one missionary baptized a soldier with a bucket in a hangar…

The one line that really highlighted and captured the religious outlook in this story was when he was describing an incident when the president of Haiti declared a national day of prayer. The pilot was flying his helicopter over the city, looking down on “literally hundreds of thousands of people raising their hands and Bibles as they gathered around the capital, praising God, despite the circumstances!” (exclamation point by him). Below this, there is a picture of several dozen Haitians on the street, clutching Bibles and seemingly praying to the sky. The caption under it reads:

Haitians worshiping God in spite of the horrors they experienced only a few weeks before! Amazing!

I always get a nauseating feeling when I read things like this. How is praising God in these circumstances such a good thing? If I were a Haitian, I would be pissed that God let some big earthquake level my city. I would certainly question whether God is in control or not, and if he is, what good reason could he possibly have to allow all that death and destruction to happen?

It was in similar circumstances that Voltaire wrote about the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. This incident caused not only the philosophical minds of the day to question the idea that “everything is for the best” (because God is in control), but it also prompted men to investigate the natural causes for such phenomena, which led to the study of seismology. It may be comforting to think that there is some omnipotent being out there who is ultimately in control of everything, but ultimately it is useless. It does nothing to stop such things from happening nor does it help us to better predict or protect ourselves from such acts of nature.

Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts. I am not going to write an essay. What are some of yours?

2 Responses to ““Haitians worshiping God in spite of horrors… Amazing!””

  1. Ann said

    Here’s a quote from one of my Facebook friends that’s currently on my newsfeed: “Happy Easter Friends. If you don’t Jesus as your Personal Savior, there’s no guarantee of life tomorrow. But you can choose Him as your Lord and Savior today….as your guarantee of life, everlasting.”

    Maybe some Christians are pissed off by atheists who don’t want to purchase eternal life with free grace credit at the expense of their integrity and self-honesty. What…refusing to worship/believe in a God makes me immoral in itself? It’s very disturbing when people think God wills or allows natural events like tragic earthquakes and then continue to worship such a God.

    “when you were hanged, dissected, stunned with blows and made to row in the galleys, did you always think that everything was for the best in this world?”
    – Voltaire, Candide

  2. I like the post, Paulo. I think the line “Haitians worshiping God in spite of the horrors they experienced only a few weeks before! Amazing!” gets at one of the aspects of the indifferent, natural world that Christians have the most trouble reconciling with their false religious paradigm. In other words, it is difficult for them to reconcile their idea that God is good, love, etc. with the facts of natural disasters [controlled by God, since He controls everything] that kill, maim, and cause untold human suffering to people who are totally undeserving of it. I think the emailed story is an attempt to shore up that contradiction in Christians’ understanding of God. It’s a way of saying, “Don’t think so much about that contradiction. Have faith, because even the Haitians are happy with God!” It’s rather insulting to the Haitians, since it translates as “Look, the devastation isn’t THAT bad, since the Haitians are still happy, little God-worshiping natives!” It devalues their suffering, and it’s sick that your worldview would make you try to rationalize a way around this kind of human tragedy. A tragedy is a tragedy. Forget God, and focus on the people who need the help. Instead of focusing your eyes upward towards the sky, look down to your fellow suffering human. He’s the one who needs your focus and attention. P.S. Bibles don’t feed people. How about you spend that money on food and water instead?

    I recently discovered that one of my Christian friends has a unique perspective on God’s attributes; it’s his attempt to explain the God-sanctioned violence and murder in the OT. He claims that God has a dual nature: both good and evil. He said his opinion isn’t very popular in his Sunday school class. Ha ha!

    Ann, I love the quote from Candide. Voltaire’s the man.

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