Monday, January 10, 2005

The Mad, Mad World of God's People on Earth: "One such newspaper correspondent pleaded, with unintentional black humor, that “God regularly answers our prayers, including recently saving our son’s marriage when it went through a rocky patch, yet He ignores the pleas of thousands who scream for their loved ones lost to the waves. We are in turmoil”.

"Presumably the author of the letter has never previously considered that while their God was busy divinely intervening to stop their son breaking wind under the duvet without apologizing to his wife, He must also, by implication, have been deaf to the prayers from thousands all over the world, screaming mercy for loved ones blown up by bombs, dying of famine, run down by cars, killed by robbers, fires, disease or poverty. The turmoil the letter writer should be experiencing is how he arrived at being so terminally self-centered and unutterably stupid not to have noticed pain and suffering until it came to his attention in the form of a headline-grabbing tsunami.

"But if we can forgive the knuckle-dragging idiocy of a member of the public, who could, after all, quite possibly be educationally subnormal, it’s considerably harder to explain the reaction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, an educated theologian of some intellectual standing, when he described the tsunami as “testing our faith”.

"How the archbishop reasons that a natural, and indeed geologically predictable, earthquake can shake his faith, when war, famine, criminality, religious hatred and the advancement of science that makes his religion look increasingly ridiculous, have never been singled out by him as having the same faith-rocking effect is mystifying. If anything, the indifferent destructive power of the tsunami, in contrast to the malicious destructive power of mankind, is so obscenely impressive that it’s more likely to tempt the swithering non-believer into the fold of supernatural belief than drive them away. Puny humans, armed with all our expensive weaponry, technology and irrational loathing, take months to systematically slaughter thousands of people in Iraq, whereas the Earth’s crust gives one tiny shrug in its sleep and hundreds of thousands die in a matter of days."

"Meanwhile, a letter to The Herald about the tsunami from Osama Saeed, Scottish spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain, claims to speak for all Muslims, and tells us that this world’s “reality” is of little consequence, since believers know it is nothing more than a test, and they can look forward after death to an “unimaginable quality of life”. He finishes by expressing bafflement as to how those of us who don’t believe in this promised land manage to cope at all, as in his words, “It’s only the knowledge that everyone will be recompensed in the hereafter that keeps me going”.

"If this perspective came from a deeply depressed, terminally ill person in great pain, or the lone survivor of a terrible family-destroying calamity, one might afford it some sympathy. As it comes from someone fit, healthy and hired to represent the views of a great many diverse Scottish Muslims, most of whom love this life dearly and wish to make the best of it for themselves and those who share the planet, one can only hope he gets better soon."

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