Thursday, February 03, 2005

A follow-up on tsunami theodicy

Scripps Howard New Service recently posted this article in response to theological postulations of God's role in the tsunami. Thanks to fellow OBU grad Jake for the tip.

Particularly perturbing to me in the current political climate of this country is the constant claim of victimization among too many Christians. While believers are struggling under great duress and oppression in places like Sudan, American Christianity has too frequently taken the posture of a victim when policies do not go their way. The banning of public prayer and religious displays suddenly becomes an oppressive strike against the core of Christianity. Violence in school and the general deterioration of society are blamed upon policy decisions that are perceived as anti-Christian.

Admittedly, some of the decisions passed down by school boards, legislatures, and the courts unnecessarily limit religious expression in public. For example, as long as different religious traditions have equal access, there is no reason why the expression of religion cannot have a place in public discourse. Nevertheless, facile rhetoric takes the place of thoughtful debate when these decisions are framed as a pitched battle between secularists and true believers. Let's be frank. Most Christians do not have to suffer for the faith in this country; while ridicule and disdain may be directed at some believers, slightly bruised feelings are not a sign of persecution.

Of course, theological explanations for the tsunami are not unique to the western world as Islamic commentators have also constructed their own theories. Finding meaning and purpose behind such inexplicable tragedy is a natural human reaction, yet we should also pause and reflect upon the various motives behind our ruminations.