now I lay me down to sleep

September 2, 2005

BvP’s relatives are safe and sound. The Biloxi-based group (whom I’ve never met) are scattered, but alive. I’m quite relieved and pleased.

But Katrina has planted a lot of questions inside my brain. Questions such as:
1) Would there be more help down there now if most of or military personnel weren’t in Iraq and Afghanistan?
2) Why was is so much hipper to donate to the tsunami victims than to the victims down South? (I know the tsunami was of a larger scale. But is there a ‘they should have evacuated … they deserve what they get’ mentality at play? And I’m pissy it took Amazon so long to put a freaking button on their site. )
and most disturbingly…
3) Where is your Messiah now, Flanders?

Background: I was baptized and raised Catholic. I received my sacraments and was married in the Catholic Church. But in the last few years, I started to fall away. When the brouhaha about supporters of pro-choice and pro-euthanasia candidates not being allowed to take Communion hit, I decided to part ways with the Catholic Church for good. Plus, I wasn’t all that enthralled with the new Pope. I’d have preferred a Pope from a non-European country instead. With my current beliefs, I’d be lying every time I said I was Catholic.

In the meantime, I forged my own personal relationship with God, to used the too-tired cliche. I have my beliefs (big on the “Love one another as I have loved you” part) and I follow them as best I can. I just try my best to be a good person. I took the tiny seed of faith that remained once I mentally ‘left’ the church and cultivated it into a decent sapling.

Enter Katrina.

Now all I can ask is, “Why?” The super-conservative (what y’all call Fundies) believe that God wanted to teach us all a lesson by wiping out the decadently sinful boob-flashing Big Easy. (No mention of why God also took out huge swaths of the two poorest but most God-fearing states in the country, Mississippi and Alabama.) The not-so-fundies think that God didn’t specifically create Katrina to kill thousands…nature just took it’s course. Nuh-uh. If God’s brilliant enough to create trivial details on the human body like, say, earlobes (See: Intelligent Design) he’s surely responsible for something as massive and awe-ful as a category 5 hurricane.

I feel like my little sapling of faith has been cut down to the root ball. It’s not gone…just damaged. How can I put my faith in a Higher Power that would allow so many to be drowned, and even more to be walking around, hungry and thirsty, in knee-deep sewage, gator, and corpse-infested waters for days? Did He want to teach us a lesson? If so…a half-hour of TV time and/or a burning bush would be a much more welcome way to tell us what we’re doing wrong.

Now, kids, if you choose to comment…be nice. Realize that not all people of faith are mindless idiots without free will. Realize that I’m not dissing the Catholic Church at all…I just realized that I shouldn’t be a part of a club where I don’t agree with/adhere to the rules. I’m just in sticky faith-spot right now and needed to vent about it somewhere.

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  • Tommy September 2, 2005 at 8:48 am

    Good post. Some random thoughts.

    -The question you raise about Iraq and Afganistan is a very fair one. Not sure if anyone knows the answer, but I think its a very fair question to ask.

    -I agree with your point about the Tsumani “donations” being hipper. I always ask myself the question – perhaps we should donate to the Red Cross and relief organizations BEFORE disaster strikes. I also think we should all consider donating TIME as well as MONEY.

    -I’m not sure what a Pope from a Non-European country would accomplish. It all comes down to doctrine. Now I think Benedict is going to be a very good Pope. You could have a Pope from Africa or South America, but he might have had the same beliefs as Benedict.

    -But most importantly, glad to see your family in the Gulf States region are ok.

  • Erin September 2, 2005 at 9:41 am

    It’s always interested me that people say they don’t agree with everything a religion says, so they leave it. I don’t see these same people leave America, so they must agree with America has done throughout its history and in the present. Because otherwise, they’d leave because they think that’s right way to handle not believing in ALL the rules.

    Of course, many people are actually leaving America now for countries where they can criticize the government and not be called a terrorist lover. Or be dismissed as a bleeding heart liberal. So there are people who say, I disagree with such and such a church, and I leave that. Therefore, I adhere to the idea that if I cannot support a group, I must go, so I must go from America too.

    As for not supporting the Katrina, I’ve already donated a lot to Red Cross, the Humane Society, and am gathering money for Noah’s Wish. Plus, I am rallying my company to donate equipment to the rescue parties they desperately need.

    Maybe if we weren’t trillions in the whole now for the Iraq war that’s costs — what? — 200 million now a week? A month? 27 billion for 2005? — we and the other countries pouring that money into that, would have more in the wallet to give Katrina. The Tsunami hit us in the beginning of the year before the war costs went up 18 billion.

    For that matter, why do I have to donate at all? Bill Gates could take 2 billion out of his wallet, never miss it, make it up in 2 mos., and fund the entire Katrina rescue. He’ll have Microsoft give a couple million instead, and will be hailed as generous. Generous my a$$; he spent more on the decorations for one room in his house.

    Last, why do we blame God for natural occurences? God won’t win you the lottery, but He will blow your house down? We supposedly wanted free will, people. You want God to stop the hurricanes, hand over your free will. But then you can’t complain you don’t like His rules and instead will do whatever you want. Put Him in charge of it and follow orders or don’t complain when things don’t go the way you want.

    But what I really believe is: God didn’t make ear lobes or hurricanes or disease or anything. Nature did. God or gods formed the spiritual, and Nature formed the physical. And we’re just the greatest predator Nature has ever created; that doesn’t mean we should believe our own PR and think we rule all. We’re tenants; it’s Nature’s world. If we don’t like it, we can try to find a dinosaur to complain to.

  • Brian Z September 2, 2005 at 11:48 am

    I know what you’re talking about. Eight hours a day of coverage of this… HORROR has been rough, to put it mildly. For the first time in my life I find myself in NEED of spiritual guidance, of talking to a minister, ’cause I’ve been on the verge of tears pretty much ALL THE TIME since Tuesday evening.

    I don’t have any answers, just a whole lotta thoughts. I can’t tell you (or anyone) “believe like I believe.” But I send love and good thoughts to you, and if you want to talk about this, or anything, you can just give me a call (I gave you my new phone #, right?).

  • _d September 3, 2005 at 12:54 am

    god didn’t make that hurricane to kill all those innocents… because, you see, that would make her a terrorist, and as we know, god is on our side

  • Kimberly September 3, 2005 at 1:48 am

    I was initially scared to even post this (religion being a hotspot) but I’m really glad I did because it’s nice to see others points of view. I wrote that while I was half asleep…can you tell?

    Tommy: I wanted a non-European Pope just to shake things up. Most of the growth in Catholicism are in the Spanish-speaking and African countries, so a Pope from outside of Europe would, in my eyes, be an acknowledgement by the Church that our world was changing. No matter where the Pope hailed from, though…he wouldn’t be much different from Benedict, and John Paul II before him.

    Erin: I love your thoughts on nature creating the physical and God/dess/s creating the spiritual. And the free will part makes sense too. Hurricanes will inevitably hit shorelines. If I build a beach house…I do it by my own free will. Thanks for the Noah’s Wish mention…I donated to them tonight.

    Brian: You have the toughest job at times. Email my gmail addy with your new phone number.

    _d: Because you’re an idiot. 😉

    What I’m taking away from this: We are so amazingly small and inconsequential and fragile in this universe. There are forces, natural and spiritual, that dwarf us. Being generally good people and helping each other out will make this life so much easier…even when disaster happens.

  • _d September 3, 2005 at 11:09 am

    you guys need to read this national geographic article (first 5 paragraphs)….
    it was written last year, creepy, spot on


  • Ani September 3, 2005 at 5:16 pm

    What has happened is traumatizing enough and yes I do want to see how those people are being helped but again I feel the media has taken advantage of this trajedy and made it the news piece of the hour. And in turn by constant coverage in the papers and the news with those heart wrenching pics have traumatized people. How much do we see before we become immune to it? I hate it when something of this destruction happens and people from all sorts of “faiths” come out with their reasons. I personally don’t believe God did this. I unlike those people who are the “real believers” think this is for a lesson. It’s shitty but it just happened. There is no reason for it. Now it is time to just help. I don’t think also it was cooler to donate to the Tsunami in Thailand and the other countries. I still hope those people are getting help like the folks in the gulf coast. I too am a lapsed Christian and so is my husband. I believe God loves EVERYONE whether Republican, Gay, Fundamentalist, Pro Choice, whatever. And I think there is no one way to heaven except being good to others, the world, and yourself. That is all I think God personally cares about. So I dislike it greatly when an elder of any religious organization gives reasons and says we should be fear God and go by so and so rules other wise God will get us to. We shouldn’t be afraid of God but in awe of what we are given and that is life. And to say otherwise is really spitting in God’s face. And yes I do thinksince all our troops are over in Iraq in the President’s war that less forces are available to help. I hate that it took so long for help to happen. Oh wait W was getting guitar lessons.

  • Tiger September 7, 2005 at 8:04 pm

    This was an interesting post… interesting responses as well. I’ve been skim reading through a book called “Conversations with God: an uncommon dialogue” by Neale Donald Walsch. It’s actually a 3 book series (I think 3 anyway) & some have called it “hokey” & freakishly “new-age” mumbo jumbo crap. …but I personally believe in the idea of “taking what you need & leaving the rest.” I’ve done the struggle with “faith” idea… & there was one passage in that book that kind of hit me where it hurts–something about how “god” has become such a toss-about word & that the very act of our (mankind that would be really) “naming” such a concept & then further “defining” it & surrounding it with all these trappings–that that act takes something enormous (and yes–some *thing* that does indeed “dwarf us”) and makes it very, very small… that by doing this we so severely limit what we *could* possibly take out of a relationship with Spirit. I think keeping one’s mind open and as you’ve said–just trying to be the best you can be–is about the best you can do… we’re all of us fumbling about in the dark.
    Sometimes things do not “make sense.” One of my best friends–her 13 year old son was killed this June in what was a really, really STUPID accident that should never have happened. …one could say–a small *blip* on the radar in comparison to the devastion down South–but not really, you know? There is a vast empty space in her “universe.” …a space that used to be occupied by her child. I know she’s struggling with the concept of “faith” & “god” as well right now. & I recall the story of that young girl (13 as well I think?) that was killed by a shark in FL–that happened shortly afterward & I recall thinking… people lose loved ones EVERY DAY.
    …every day…
    The nurse at my doctor’s office lost her 5 year old son in a freak accident a year or so ago… he was riding in a truck through a field & Grandpa was following… somehow he fell out of the truck & it happened so fast there wasn’t any time to register that it had happened… no time to stop the tractor.
    …every day…

    …I think asking questions & actively seeking is a sign that you still care–I think it’s a good thing.

    I’m very glad that those you know & love are safe.