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BAD NEWS: Baby drowns after baptism (PG13)

Father Valentin during the baptism.
Father Valentin during the baptism.

SOURCE: A priest in eastern Europe has been accused of drowning a baby boy as he baptised him.

Police are investigating Father Valentin for accidential homicide after witnesses at the ceremony said the priest did not cover the baby’s mouth during the ritual, The Sun newspaper reports.

Father Valentin had denied being responsible for the baby’s death during the baptism in Moldova.

The six-week-old baby died on the way to hospital and an autopsy found he had drowned, the baby’s dad Dumitru Gaidau told Romania’s Publica TV.

Mr Gaidau, 36, said his son was clearly in distress during the ceremony.

“He couldn’t inhale, his face turned blue and he was foaming at the mouth. He [the priest] said we should not interrupt this their ritual,” he said.

What a sad and empty story.
Where’s God in this kind of story?
Seriously? Where is he?
I see a priest whose life has been changed forever.
I see devastated parents who believed they were doing the right thing, the holy thing… but instead, they lose a child. A CHILD.
And I see a lifeless baby.
But where’s God? I don’t see him.
I don’t get these kinds of stories.
These are the kind of stories that force me to ask God questions that I once felt guilty about asking.
Usually they contain expletives.
And they’re the kind I yell.
And I no longer feel guilty about asking these questions.
The alternative is for me to sit around and wonder whether or not I’m wasting my time believing that somebody is actually listening to me ask questions. So I always suppose that God would rather me talk, ask, get angry as opposed to not saying anything at all.
But seriously God. That baby didn’t have to die.
I’m calling bullshit.


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Shirley Ostrander

posted July 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm


I’ve never seen anything like this – immersion for a baby? Do you know if this practice is common?

Also – re: asking questions – I’m with you! Ask questions, get angry, yell… you may never get all the answers, but you’ll get some. Keep talking about things like this – ask the world “why?” – eventually your questions will cause change…and then you may get some satisfaction at least.

WOW…



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    Derrick

    posted July 29, 2010 at 8:57 am


    In Eastern Orthodox churches, full immersion for babies is a common practice. The priest is supposed to cover the mouth in such a way that no water is inhaled and the baby is immersed three times. The baptism I saw was pretty rapid in and out. The baptism ritual is long and it’s almost understandable that the priest didn’t want to stop because of its importance, but if the baby is showing signs of distress…human error has entered into a holy ritual…stop and ensure the safety of the baby.



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Robbie

posted July 28, 2010 at 8:16 pm


I call bullshit too, sactimonius bullshit. A priest, in the middle of a ceremony or not, should stop for a child turning blue. There is the bullshit. You should know what standing on religious ceremony over caring about people does as well as anyone. So you see the religious spirit is at fault here, not God.



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted July 28, 2010 at 8:23 pm


    Robbie,
    I think it’s easy to step in and blame the priest or the ceremony…
    God supposedly is capable of overcoming all of those things anyway… so human error is a moot point…



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      Artifex

      posted July 28, 2010 at 11:37 pm


      People die. What else can be said? Age makes no difference in the end. It is tragic, yes, it is tough and those inadvertently involved will have issues and questions which will require love, compassion, grace, etc. to deal with. It strikes us even more because it’s not something we ‘naturally’ expect.

      That said, do you really think this happened outside of God’s control? I think this is a moment to reflect on the kind of world we live in, and God’s promise of resurrection and perfection when he finally restores creation.



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        Sbux Josh

        posted July 29, 2010 at 11:15 am


        Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
        Then he is not omnipotent.
        Is he able, but not willing?
        Then he is malevolent.
        Is he both able and willing?
        Then whence cometh evil?

        Is he neither able nor willing?
        Then why call him God?

        -Epicurus



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          Artifex

          posted July 29, 2010 at 3:48 pm


          Ah yes, another atheistic truism blithely quoted. I will confess that these make me extremely upset, not because they represent an actual argument, but because the quoter thinks they are playing some sort of trump card when in reality it is just intellectual laziness.

          Epicurus lived circa 300 B.C. In other words, there have been over 2000 years of intellectual thought since Epicurus.

          Do you **honestly** think that no one has addressed his criticisms in the interim?

          Have you even bothered to search and seriously study the subject?

          Or did you just pick up Dawkins one day and go no further?

          In fact, in truly educated skeptical circles, Epicurean arguments are viewed as rather weak and rather incomplete.

          It stands to reason that God could allow evil to exist for some higher moral purpose (even if you can’t decipher what that purpose is). The most common theodicy is the Free Will Defense.

          I mean, even Wikipedia shows responses at length:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_evil#Defenses_and_theodicies



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          Matthew Paul Turner

          posted July 29, 2010 at 4:02 pm


          Hey man,

          Josh is a friend of mine. He’s a good guy. And your assumptions about him are incorrect.

          And if an Epicurus quote is Josh’s trump card, is yours a Wikipedia link of responses?

          You gotta play fair.



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          Artifex

          posted July 30, 2010 at 12:35 am


          @MPT

          Okay okay okay, I’ll back down.

          But firstly, I never said it was “Josh’s trump card.” Just that this quote is slapped around like a trump card all too often.

          Secondly, why on earth would you think that a wikipedia link is my trump card? That’s just the starting point, and, like I alluded to in my response, you can easily search out centuries upon centuries of philosophical thought since then. Wikipedia is just the primer, the most basic of overviews (ie, someone who knew what they were talking about wouldn’t start out with Epicurus unless they sincerely doubted the intelligence of their audience).

          All it takes is a little googling to find out if an argument holds water these days. But aw shucks, but that’s too gosh darn inconvenient, isn’t it? I’m being to diddly-darn hard-nosed about all this, aren’t I?

          And LoL, and what does “gotta play fair” even mean? How was I being unfair? He quoted a very basic quote, and I replied with valid criticism.

          Are you saying Epicurus should be untouchable? Am I not allowed to criticize the criticism on this blog?



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          Matthew Paul Turner

          posted July 30, 2010 at 7:36 am


          Sure you can criticize Epicurus. But your comment was more about “atheists” like Josh than Epicurus. And I probably took it a little personal because I know Josh personally. You’re fine man. :)



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      john

      posted July 28, 2010 at 11:46 pm


      moot?



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        Matthew Paul Turner

        posted July 29, 2010 at 12:38 am


        Yeah, I’m an idiot.



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      Robbie

      posted July 29, 2010 at 2:28 pm


      I agree and I don’t blame the priest. I believe very much in spirits though and who I blame is, like I said, a religious spirit; an entity. Controlling, cohersing, the priest. The kind of thing designed to cause people to question God’s goodness. As to why God would allow it, I don’t claim to have an answer.

      And I wasn’t going to mention the moot (mute) thing but, aren’t you an author? Kidding.



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KatR

posted July 28, 2010 at 8:23 pm


I wish I had some brilliant words for you, but I no longer believe in a good God.



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    Jonathan Chang

    posted July 29, 2010 at 6:04 am


    Thank you for your honesty KatR.



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    Bryan

    posted August 2, 2010 at 10:04 am


    You no longer believe in a good (as you define it) being (comprised of all of the properties to which you ascribe it)?

    That makes no sense. You’re saying you no longer believe a thing is what you have defined it to be. But the definition of it is your own, so how can you not believe that? Otherwise, just change.



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Carole Turner

posted July 28, 2010 at 8:40 pm


Have you ever read the book “A Grief Observed” by CS Lewis? It’s a startling account of a man dealing with loss in a very honest way. You should check it out.

I don’t “get” stuff like this at all but this life is just a vapor..we see through a glass darkly, one day will will see clearly.



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kb

posted July 28, 2010 at 8:55 pm


And I’m calling… You’re not helping anyone with this kind of post. No one. Seriously, can you legitimately name one healthy question that you could help someone ask with this kind of post? We all have enough questions arising from our own lives without you chasing more down for us…



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted July 28, 2010 at 10:55 pm


    I’m not trying to help anybody with this post. Sorry to disappoint you.



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    Artifex

    posted July 28, 2010 at 11:33 pm


    We shouldn’t avoid questions because they are uncomfortable. Horrible stuff happens around the world every day. If one doesn’t have a theology that addresses that, one has a very weak belief.



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      Matthew Paul Turner

      posted July 29, 2010 at 12:50 am


      Artifex. Questions are not a sign of weak belief. Asking questions big and small are very much apart of faith.

      Some say that certainly is the opposite of faith. Not doubt.



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        Kris

        posted July 29, 2010 at 1:35 pm


        @MPT i think you mis-read Artifex’s post.



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Terah

posted July 28, 2010 at 9:03 pm


I seriously want to just scream at everyone involved. I am telling you if it was my child and I noticed that they were in distress I would have tackled his “toosh” to the ground to save my baby. Priest or no priest, God gave us common sense, let’s use people!



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    Terah

    posted July 28, 2010 at 9:04 pm


    Wow! What terrible english and grammer. Maybe I should re-read my hate posts before submitting?!



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      RobM

      posted July 29, 2010 at 6:07 am


      also known as grammar :) I feel your rage though.



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    Helen

    posted July 30, 2010 at 12:10 pm


    Amen…Jesus died to take away our sins, not our brains. But this story is just sad all around for everyone involved.



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sharideth

posted July 28, 2010 at 10:32 pm


i think god would rather have us yell and rage than feel nothing at all in the face of a tragedy like this. there isn’t enough “why” in the world to explain something like this.



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Charlie H.

posted July 28, 2010 at 11:03 pm


I appreciate MPT’s honesty, so there he helped me. It helps me to see someone struggling with God in the same vein, as say, half the Psalms, to truly ask God the classic WTF question.

My only answer is that we live in a cause-effect world. You put a baby in water and they can’t breathe. That doesn’t change the fact that it sucks though.



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Bob Chapman

posted July 29, 2010 at 12:15 am


Something isn’t sounding right in this story. It is common in the Orthodox to baptize by immersion, including infants.

I not saying the story is totally false. I am saying there is reason to doubt the story as presented.



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Leanne

posted July 29, 2010 at 5:53 am


I am not sure there is ever a good enough answer or reason for tragedies. I have stopped trying to answer them.

I want to believe that God is crying with the parents. I want to believe that God is hanging his head in pain and question with the priest. I want to believe that God is with you and all the rest calling bullshit. I want to believe the Cross shouts at this world, “this is wrong! humanity was never meant to live in a world where the beautiful and holy became so ugly and tragic.” I want to believe Jesus cries as our brokenness manifests itself in such mind blowing ways. I want to believe.



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Jonathan Chang

posted July 29, 2010 at 6:02 am


Yeah man, I read this yesterday and was flabbergasted. I seriously sat there for 5 minutes thinking how crazy that is.

Honestly, in my mind I put myself in the parents shoes and had even more heartbreak. And in that thinking, I felt at that moment that I wanted to kill that priest.



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RobM

posted July 29, 2010 at 6:05 am


There’s no easy answer to these. The old “God is good, all the time” phrase is meaningless to parents burying their infant. And blaming it on that’s just the way the fallen world is, and claiming you can’t blame God is just blindly adhering to preconceived notions. From Job through the Psalms, to Jesus’ own Garden prayer (and others), we are constantly reminded of evil in the world that is more than we are able to rectify with a good & all powerful God. I don’t have any easy answers. I do believe God is still present, is still good, is still working, and I just can’t find it here, and am frustrated by tragedies on either mass or individualized like this one occurences. So frustrating. Preist would seem to have some culpability, but I can’t answer as to why God would not intervene.



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    Helen

    posted July 30, 2010 at 12:22 pm


    I get what you mean, but probably the priest IS worshiping the same God, in the best way he knows how…When I was religious I loved God with all my heart and was doing what I was taught to be the right thing by observing rituals and rules. Nothing wrong with either, except that I put them before compassion, grace and relationship. That was the problem. There is something beautiful about ritual if it is an outflow of my relationship with God and not understood to BE my relationship with God. That is my experience. Hope that makes sense…



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      Helen

      posted July 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm


      oooppps! That was meant to be a reply to the next post! Sorry, Rob! :)



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Rocco

posted July 29, 2010 at 6:43 am


That priest isn’t worshiping the same God I do. I dare say it’s not the same God you know either MPT.



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted July 29, 2010 at 6:49 am


    This is a pretty big statement, Rocco. Can you explain what you mean?
    I’m pretty sure all of us worship the same God.



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      Rocco

      posted July 29, 2010 at 11:41 am


      As simply as I can put it…

      The priest was/is worshiping a religion, NOT God.



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        Z

        posted July 30, 2010 at 11:35 am


        wow that’s pretty ignorant of you



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          Rocco

          posted August 2, 2010 at 6:42 pm


          As if that was any more intelligent?

          Maybe you could explain your thoughts?



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    Helen

    posted July 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm


    I get what you mean, but probably the priest IS worshiping the same God, in the best way he knows how…When I was religious I loved God with all my heart and was doing what I was taught to be the right thing by observing rituals and rules. Nothing wrong with either, except that I put them before compassion, grace and relationship. That was the problem. There is something beautiful about ritual if it is an outflow of my relationship with God and not understood to BE my relationship with God. That is my experience. Hope that makes sense…



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Vikki

posted July 29, 2010 at 8:01 am


Who are we to blame and question God about matters over which we have no control. God didn’t kill that baby; stupid people did.

Job 38:4 (New International Version)

4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted July 29, 2010 at 8:07 am


    “Who are we to blame and question God about matters over which we have no control.”

    But God has control, and that’s why WE who aren’t in control can sometimes blame and question him.

    And I’m not sure that using Job proves your theory about God… because in Job’s case, God did cause all of his problems.



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      RobM

      posted July 29, 2010 at 11:34 am


      And Job clearly blamed & questioned God. As did Psalmists as well.



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        Mariah

        posted July 29, 2010 at 2:06 pm


        I’m really struggling to comprehend this horrible tragedy right now. I couldn’t even imagine what the family and priest must be going through at this moment.

        I’ve experienced tragedy too. Probably not of this magnitude, but it certainly will make a person question their faith. I thought, “Where are you God when I needed You the most? I’ve done everything You asked and you let me fall. How could you allow this to happen?”

        I remember listening to a song as I prayed those angry words. The lyrics went, “His mercy comes in the morning…” Suddenly it became totally apparent: God was not my personal genie. How shallow for me to trust God only when things go *my* way. He isn’t up there passing out blessings or throwing down lightning on a whim to complement my idea of what’s true and right. No, He’s much, much bigger than that.

        There are no good answers to this sad story. I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of where Job’s heart was in light of his awful circumstances. On a side note, God was not the one who “caused” all of Job’s problems… that was Satan.



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          Jenn

          posted July 29, 2010 at 3:04 pm


          Mariah, Thanks for referencing Lamentations 3. He mercies are anew and I am often reminded looking back at the moments I have clung to that verse, His mercies are there, grief often blinds us from seeing them.



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Al

posted July 29, 2010 at 8:27 am


How is God to blame for other people’s negligence and stupidity?? A priest drowns a child and God gets the blame? Why are we so quick to accuse God when the BAD things happen but so slow to thank and praise Him when the wonderful good things happen? Why don’t we ask “where was God when this child was miraculously conceived and born into such a wicked world of our own making”? No, we just want to jump His case when something bad happens because of human beings who have free will. The priest is to blame, not God.

How awesome God is that this little baby, who did not deserve to be treated this way by someone in charge of him, is now fully enjoying glory in heaven with the one who gave Him life and loves him eternally!



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    Rick Nier

    posted July 30, 2010 at 7:21 am


    I think that’s right. This is like the educated way of saying that it is indeed the fault of the people involved. Thanks for saying it this way, Al.



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    Helen

    posted July 30, 2010 at 12:16 pm


    Agreed.



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trey

posted July 29, 2010 at 9:19 am


so, perhaps the only thing more grievous than this story would be some of the comments on it…but I understand that’s part of having blogs. (and I’m about to violate my own principle:)
I find myself having trouble breathing reading this story in grief for the parents, the priest, anyone involved in this, but my point would, perhaps serve better in the role of responding as to “how” to question God.
I try to look at most things between boundaries and less about the exact “correct” way and here are the boundaries I would see not only here, but in every horrific case of human suffering (as if there is any other kind).
On one side, it is not ok (I don’t think) to just chalk this up to “shit happens” and go about our merry way and never ask a single question for fear that God will strike us down. Suffering is real and to deny that is to deny God, Jesus and the Bible (yes, I’m using the 3 typical Sunday School answers, but hopefully you’ll see them with a little more depth here.) If you are a Christian, and probably even if you’re not, this should absolutely grieve you and leave you with lots of questions (btw, Christianity is not the only worldview on the hook when suffering happens, every worldview has to answer the problem of suffering whether or not a god is acknowledged). We’re getting ready for baby #4 and, as i said earlier, I am struggling to breathe reading and thinking about this story.
On the other side, it is not ok (I don’t think) to just chalk this up to “bullshit” and any time or some time we encounter human suffering that God’s very existence is on the line. I think that’s a western way of encountering suffering that falls to a foundation built on “the universe, God included, is limited to existing within the realm of my understanding and anything that falls outside of that must cause me to put everything on the table for examination.”
So, not sure why I’m writing this because I hate confrontation, misperception and more than either of those, superspiritual responses on blogs…but nonetheless, here are my thoughts (briefly) on how to question God.
Job suffered greater than any other human that wasn’t also fully God (ie. Jesus). Against all reason and emotion his tragedy causes him to question down to his very foundation, but his foundation was this: God is ultimately good and God is ultimately sovereign (implied in this is that God also does exist). His wife encourages him to call bullshit, “curse God and die” but his foundation would not allow for him to do that. From that foundation he begins to ask very hard questions.
I get nervous when people say “don’t question God, just accept everything through faith and there’s a better purpose.” I get just as nervous when people essentially say “question God’s existence when things are too effed up to fit within your scope of understanding.” When people say “that’s not my God that would do that” I just get angry.
really really really not trying to be controversial here, but somewhat processing what I’m going through, somewhat hoping to be at least a little helpful.



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    Helen

    posted July 30, 2010 at 12:42 pm


    Wow, very thoughtful post…I am glad you violated your own principal to share it…Lots of good words in there…We see only a small tile on the mosaic of human existence. It is expected that we will question when things like this happen…But in the end, I want to always be able to trust that God has it, some way, some how, even if I can’t wrap my mind around it…And even if I have to struggle through doubt and arguments with my Papa to get there. My relationship with God has shown me this to be true in the darkest moments of my life…I recently saw Steven Curtis Chapman in concert – his 5 year old daughter was accidentally run over and killed by a van driven by his son…He said that he went through this time where he questioned everything he ever wrote or said about a good God. In the end he had to decide if he was going to trust this God he had spent so long making music for and ministering for or throw it all away…I am glad that he chose the former. Because he can give hope to others who have had their lives shattered by tragedy.



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ReleventISHpastor

posted July 29, 2010 at 9:21 am


The priest did something dumb. I had no idea it was God’s job to police dumb. You can say all you want (and I understand why you do) about how you are mad at God, but truth of the matter is, if this was Heaven, I’d be upset for God allowing this, but, it isn’t. This is a fallen world, terrible things happen, things even worse than this. People die. It may sound insensative to put it like that, but it is true. That baby is more alive right now than you or I as we type and read because he is with his Father. I think the real injustice would be if this moron made this mistake and the baby wasn’t welcomed home by a perfect God, but, it is.

Asking questions isn’t a bad thing. I don’t fault you for that. I will say that I totally disagree with your thinking, but asking questions only creates dialogue like this.

I am sure you have read it, but look at these two passages:

Romans 8:18-21
18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.



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Jenn

posted July 29, 2010 at 10:35 am


At the same time you originally tweeted this link, there was a tweet from someone else about another boy drowning. Priest or not, these senseless events happen. And yes I think it’s appropriate to question. If we just shrug our shoulders I think we lose a part of who we were created to be. We were made in His image, and I don’t believe that he was apathetic or joyed by the tragic loss of this child he spent 9 months intricately forming. He grieved, and so should we. But as noted above where we question, He knows (Job). That doesn’t negate our questioning, I believe we need to ask the questions. We need to wrestle with the understanding that while God is sovereign He chooses not to act. Why? Well I think that’s at the top of most of our lists of questions to ask when that time comes around.

So grieve, swear or turn away, regardless I believe God’s big enough to handle my anger and doubt. If He isn’t then I can’t see how He could over come all that we believe He has.

I guess I should also add thank you for being honest and facing the questions in choosing to post this, you could have ignored it.



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Noelle

posted July 29, 2010 at 10:39 am


Do you think no baby has bled to death from a circumcision, bris or medical version?

These cases should horrify you. They should make you sick and angry. Another French woman is in the news for smothering her 8 newborns. Is your god supposed to stop everone from killing babies, whether it be accidental or intended? I guess it depends on what you think your god is for. And that should change with age and experience. You should question everything

I’d argue we each follow a different god, just as every sibling in a family may give you a completely different rendition of their parents based on life experience and personal world-view



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    Amanda

    posted July 29, 2010 at 2:37 pm


    “just as every sibling in a family may give you a completely different rendition of their parents based on life experience and personal world-view”

    well put, noelle.



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Roman

posted July 29, 2010 at 11:35 am


This is terrible. Please, never stop asking the questions. More than anything else, though, you should question the silence. God’s silence.



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steveT

posted July 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm


mpt~
whatever you do….keep asking the questions…fearlessly….and use as many expletives as you can come up with. i’m right there with you. damn! ~steveT



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Scottie

posted July 29, 2010 at 4:00 pm


I asked these questions after that young pastor from texas (i think) was electrocuted in the baptismal during a Sunday morning service, in front of the entire congregation. How do things like that happen? I have never stopped asking that question. This just adds to it.
But, I’m a firm believer in the whole “there’s a reason for everything” saying. Something good can always come out of something imperfect.



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Jeremiah

posted July 29, 2010 at 11:42 pm


Matthew,
Thanks for being real in this. I am with you. I dont f^&$%#g get death, but supposedly it’s all part of God’s plan. I am not sure I will ever understand it…



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b

posted July 31, 2010 at 7:04 pm


Thanks for being honest.
I’m gutted by that story.
What you wrote – except for calling bullshit [in this case I don't feel that this time] – is a lot of my questions too. But not just in this, in so many other horrible things that happen in this world.

Just as you heart dumped so am I.

The cross. I can’t explain anything at all, I just cling to the cross.
I mean why didn’t God step in a long long long long long time ago – there’s been a lot of evil stuff since the fall. Why has he waited so long?
The cross. I can’t explain anything at all, I just cling to the cross.

Praying for peace and healing for the priest, the parents, the community of faith in that place, and you, and me and all of us.

May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus



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