TAG | the lack of courage of one’s convictions
Michelle Bachman recently suggested that the summer’s catastrophic weather reflects God’s displeasure with the course of American politics:
“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians . . . We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said: ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’”
Predictably, she has now retracted her theological claims and says she was just joking.
If the earthquake and hurricane did not represent God’s will, what did they represent in a world governed by an omnipotent, omniscient God? Screw-ups? Things that just slipped by his attention? Any believer who dares articulate the unavoidable implications of religious practice these days, however, will be forced into just such a recantation as Bachmann’s, for religious faith conflicts with what, for contemporary society, is the far more important secular ethic of tolerance and inclusion.
This spring, Texas Governor Rick Perry issued a proclamation declaring April 22 to April 24 as “Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas.” Now what is logically entailed by such a proclamation? The same implications regarding divine will as were behind Bachmann’s unacceptable gloss:
1. That God has omnipotent power over earthly events.
2. That such power exists whether the power-holder decides to change or to maintain a status quo: both action and inaction represent deliberate Godly intentions towards reality.
3. That if God wants to end the Texan drought, he can.
4. That God is aware of our prayers.
5. That God has the capacity to act upon our prayers.
Specifically to Perry’s proclamation (and to every other such “group day of prayer”):
6. That God employs democratic pollsters who tabulate public opinion: the more people praying to him to take a particular course of action, the more likely it is he will rouse himself to that action (this corollary of all such calls to collective prayer conflicts of course with the equally prevalent meme that all it takes is one voice crying out for help to move God to action). (more…)