Friday, January 14, 2005

More on Safire...

Originally cited as a "great sea monster" in the first chapter of Genesis, the leviathan has become synonymous with any large monster or creature. It is occassionally invoked to accept blame for tsunamis when God isn't up to the challenge. Explanation below.

Hopefully, reader, you've been keeping abreast of the conversation on God's role in the tsunami that I've engaged myself in for the last few days. If you haven't, take this time to read my Thursday post and its links. If you have, the latest development is as follows:
Hollambeeee, a.k.a. tcrawley, was kind enough to take me to task regarding my response to the William Safire article he posted on his site. You can find his critique my reponse in the comment section of the Thursday post.

My response to his response to my response to Safire's article (ha!) goes a little something like this:

1. Perhaps you've misunderstood. I wasn't saying that he asserted that anyone deserved death. It's quite clear that he thinks the opposite. With his statement "Victims of this cataclysm in no way "deserved" [their fate]", however, he engages the language of blame without explaining why such a paradigm proves incapable of addressing the complexity of this event. Effectively, he paints himself into a corner. Worse yet, it seems that he tries to get out of this corner by distancing the event from God altogether. "Yes, it's a terribly unfair thing for so many people to die... at the hands of the cruel, cruel hands of nature". Well, shit William ... if the hand of God is not inextricably tied to the forces of nature, whose is?

My problem is that he wanders carelessly onto the minefield created by the language of blame, then pulls the "don't blame God" card to get himself to safety rather than forcing the point that there is no way to reconcile the "catastrophe" with the will of God at all, (which is quite different from suggesting that God is not implicated at all in the fray).

I think you've also misunderstood his use of the Job story. Safire's article does not equate the people who died in the tsunami with Job, so it's not a matter of "bad shit happens to good people...and in Job's case, he was such a good person that it caused bad shit to happen" as you say. This is not the point that Safire makes at all. Here's how I know:

a. This wouldn't serve as a good analogue because JOB DOES NOT DIE in the biblical story.

b. Safire says that WE, the living children of God, are Job. Those who perished in the tsunami are the "children" referenced in the line "God let the angel take [Job's] possessions, kill his children and afflict him with loathsome boils." As modern day Jobs, we are challenged to mourn our dead relatives all the while remaining faithful to the God that enabled their deaths.

c. Safire includes Job's original statement "Damn the day that I was born!" to show us that "it is not blasphemous to challenge the highest authority when it inflicts a moral wrong". Again, it's you and I that Safire likens to Job, not those who perished in the tsunami.

I take issue with this particular analogy because it suggests that God allowed hundreds of thousands of people to die just to prove to the devil that we'd still love Him. This paints a portrait of a "ends-justify-the-means" "you-gotta-break-some-eggs" God, who happens to resemble a certain American president much more than it resembles an all-loving, all-powerful divine entity. Don't tell me that it's okay to question God because sometimes God sucks, and occasionally commits injustices. Just eschew the weak ass doctrine that would allow for such a God altogether, and give me a divine entity that's more proactive than the jerk that sits idly by while the devil kills his children. You think it's empowering, Mr Safire, to tell me its okay to curse God when he commits an injustice? Are you effin' kidding me?? How empowered can I be after I realize that my God is capable of being so damn sucky in the first place?

No amount of cursing is going to remedy the fact that I can no longer expect my God to hear my prayers in time of peril because He might just be busy using my loved ones as fodder in his attempt to prove a point to the devil!

Tell me that you're pulling my leg, Mr. Safire... 'cause this God that you're talking about sucks. Big time.

2. I didn't say that Job was a trite example. I'd sooner call it a "token" example.

3. Your "none of this means that gods or goddesses are unjust" point doesn't seem to jibe with Safire's point: [God,] the highest authority is capable of inflicting moral wrongs.

(Ps: Thank you so much for engaging me and taking me to task! You know i live for dialogue.)
(Pps: Note that I haven't said a word about what I believe about God's implication in the tsunami. I'm merely issuing critique of Safire's argument.)


Blogger Hollambeeee said...

as well, i enjoy the convo...thanks...

u make a brutha think...

12:13 AM  
Blogger G. Cornelius Harris said...

I'll keep you posted

2:34 AM  

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