Spooky moment. I finished the book Krakatoa whilst lying in bed on Sunday morning. When I eventually emerged and checked the news I read of the terrible earthquake and the resulting tsunamis in and round the Indian Ocean. I think the current estimated death toll is in the region of 20,000. Fatalities beyond imagining. My thoughts and prayers are with those bereaved and homeless.
I have been thinking about suffering and disasters as a result. I find it easy to pray for situations where there is an obvious environmental failing, thus we can say that the oil slick or mud slides etc are caused by our greed (getting oil at any cost) or carelessness (deforestation) and so on. There is somebody to blame, even if it is us.
But this situation is different, I think. The earthquake was not caused by us, it was fact of life...a very big fact of life in fact, because if we didn't have the volcanic and geological activity, of which earthquakes in that part of the world are a major part, then it is most unlikely we would have had the atmosphere, climate and environment to allow the varied life we see on earth to develop. Earthquakes can't have started after the fall, because they were part of the evolution of beings like us, even if God took great care in tending His creation until sentient life (in His image) developed. Volcanic activity also produces fertile soil, which is why people live there.
So who can we blame? I find myself thinking of those Psalms that our modern sensibilities find a little distasteful, babies being bashed against rocks and all that. God is decidedly not a Western liberal. There is something frightening about God as well as the cuddly Father figure that I too frequently emphasise in school assemblies. Maybe God doesn't care if we blame Him, I assume He has broad shoulders, or perhaps He wants to see whether we jump to blame Him, or actually do something about life together, caring and supporting those in need as a matter of course, rather than benevolently sharing out a meagre percentage of our GDP.