Yesterday the devastating news poured in over National Public Radio as I was in the kitchen making dinner: four tornadoes, in a string of more expected in and around Moore, Oklahoma, including reports that most of the casualties were children from an elementary school; and that these tornadoes were touching down in the same general area where another catastrophic tornado had hit back in 1999.
My heart hurts for the boys and girls who went to school on just another day and found themselves trapped beneath the rubble, or who never came home, and for their mothers, fathers and families who are left to pick up the pieces of broken homes and shattered hearts.
It doesn’t get much more tragic than this. At least with the killings in Newtown, Connecticut, we feel we have some recourse in grief: we can point our fingers at a deranged gunman and then work for better awareness and treatment of mental illness or stricter gun laws. But Nature’s cruelty, inflicted over and over again, taking the lives of our youngest and most vulnerable, our children? There is nothing we can do about the weather.
In the aftermath of Newtown, the conservative evangelical James Dobson (whose sex education curriculum I was subjected to growing up- you can read more of this in my forthcoming book) came out saying that the shooting was God’s judgment for homosexuality. As part of an ongoing watchdog series titled “Christian Meteorology,” I’ve been looking to see what Dobson, Pat Robertson and other prominent Christian leaders will say this time about yet another tornado in the Bible belt of our country.
Meanwhile, “Christian meteorology” (my term) reports surfacing elsewhere in the blogosphere are by and large concluding that a) the hurricanes in Oklahoma are a sign that Jesus is returning very soon, b) that God is judging America, or both. How these interpretations are in any way of consolation to those whose lives have been senselessly torn apart by a natural disaster is beyond me. Who, after losing their child to a tornado, wants to hear that their loss is a “sign” that their Lord and Savior is returning to save the world? I mean, seriously? I’d be running in the opposite direction of wherever Jesus lands. And, how does divine wrath for America’s sins offer any consolation to a family who, despite belonging to a church in the Bible belt of our country, has just lost their home? Why do we human beings so quickly feel it our duty to speak for God (or, for that matter, against God) in situations like this one? These sorts of sightings make my blood boil. Please join me in praying for everyone impacted by this devastating tragedy.
Got an especially newsworthy quote to share from the blogosphere as part of our series in Christian meteorology? Leave it below and I’ll republish it.