Jewish Journal

God and hurricanes

by Brad A. Greenberg

August 27, 2009 | 11:57 am

It’s typically humbling to look back and read stories you wrote years before. My favorite point of reference for this exercise if a Halloween column I wrote for the Daily Bruin when I was its business editor. Scary.

Another worthy example is a story I wrote on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, which flooded New Orleans four years ago this week. The focus of my story was theodicy—the attempt to understand God’s goodness in light of all the pain in this world. And, as I mentioned, this is not among the better stories I’ve written. But on this occasion, it’s worth mentioning.

Here’s an excerpt:

A natural disaster is, for many, the ultimate test of faith. For others, it is dramatic validation that either God doesn’t exist or that he is a sadistic supreme being.

In the past year, humanity has been rocked by a tsunami-spawning earthquake, two monster hurricanes in the U.S. Gulf Coast and the massive quake in Pakistan. In 2003, Southern Californians fell into their own hell when wildfires raged from Ventura County to eastern San Diego County, including the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains.

“If there was a God, how come he let all that happen?’ Tom Cotton, 51, of Pinion Hills asked while finishing a burger at a Carl’s Jr. in San Bernardino.

“If it’s his plan,’ Cotton said, scanning the restaurant as if he was going to curse, “he’s sure got a messed-up plan.’

God only knows what that plan might be.

“If God is wiser than we, His judgment must differ from ours on many things, and not least on good and evil,’ C.S. Lewis, the Christian philosopher and children’s author, wrote in “The Problem of Pain.’ “What seems to us good may therefore not be good in His Eyes, and what seems to us to be evil may not be evil.’

Lewis begins the book by stating that when he was an atheist, he, too, believed God was either cruel or a farce.

“If you ask me to believe that this is the work of a benevolent and omnipotent spirit, I reply that all the evidence points in the opposite direction.’

You can read the rest here. And let me know what you think about God and suffering in the comments section below.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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