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Old 09-06-2007, 10:28 AM   #91
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Originally posted by maycocksean
As a side question: Why do we find it so horrible when many die at once but seem less inclined to react to the death of an individual. Would the tsunami have been any less horrible if only one person had died? Aren't thousands dying even as I write these words, even though it's not necessarily, together at one event? Are their deaths somehow more "fair" because of their seperateness than those who perished in the tsunami?

Again, I don't mean to be callous towards suffering and I sincerely hope I'm not coming across that way. I've been very fortunate, so far, to have not had to deal with horrific tragedy up close and personal which is probably why I can come across so dispassionately. I can't say how I'd respond if (or when) I do experience deep tragedy personally. I don't know if any person can know whether their faith (or lackthereof) will survive the crucible of horror.


thanks for another thoughtful post. there's so much to respond to, but in the interest of time, i'm just going to focus on this part.

the reason why i focus on tragedy is because it makes frighteningly real for us the precariousness of it all. when great-grandma finally succumbs to pneumonia at the age of 94, well it's sad, but it feels like a "natural" passing. i think, in many ways, we are okay with death. it is a part of life. we've seen grandparents and perhaps parents pass, and we miss them and mourn, but there's not much that feels "unnatural" about it. we have the "why" answered: because people get old, they get sick, and they die. and the cleanness of a "natural" passing is easy for us to digest and fit into a "God's Plan" paradigm.

it's when tragedy occurs that things don't fit as well, and the questions begin to get asked. one thing i think i've tried to do is take both mass tragedy -- the tsunami -- and individual tragedy -- the victims of violent crimes i've mentioned -- and used both to question whatever notions of "God's Plan" might be out there. in regards to the tsunami, inexplicable mass death due to a shifting in the earth's plates seems so sudden, so out of the blue, so unexpected, that it upends any sense of security or normalcy that we have. it is, as many called it, "Biblical" or "of Biblical proportions" -- and i think that's an important word to keep in mind. and it also begged the question of why those who were the most vulnerable -- the elderly, the children -- died in greater numbers. if we were to personify nature, as we do with God, the human quality associated with the tsunami would be cruelty. Holocaust-like cruelty.

when i talk about murder victims, or victims of accidents, or any death that isn't clean and pallatable, it's not such much the end result as Yolland pointed out -- we all die, that's not my issue -- but it is the process by which someone died, and the visual effect of seeing someone who has died in a messy, messy way that, at least to me, reinforces the idea that we are just big bags of water on a rock that's floating through outerspace. when you see whole lives reduced from living breathing thinking loving people into meat -- or when you see someone's insides on the outside -- it's profoundly upsetting. spend some time talking to EMTs, doctors, police officers, firemen, and once they get past the numbness that they've built up in order to do their jobs, you'll find, in my experience, that there's a piece of them that has, for lack of a better word, died as well. that their instincts, when faced with abject death, is to round up their family and take things like safety very, very seriously, because they know there's no rhyme or reason to the randomness of violent death and no amount of prayer is going to protect you. these people are very keenly aware of the profound randomness of life, and they're all a little bit upended. and many take it upon themselves to impose an order on this messy, messy world, and they do it through the precise professions i've just mentioned.

so ... not sure where to go with this, but i just want to underscore, again, my suspicion towards "God's Plan," and if we are to personify God and talk about relationships, or if we are the kind of person who asks for God's help on a calculus exam, or who thinks that God speaks to them at a U2 concert, or who works under the assumption that every rock they turn over and in every breath they take -- and all anyone has to do is go to TGIS to find some examples of this brand of faith -- that God is there and looking out for them, a co-pilot, then i think it is incumbant upon them to ask why God is there to help you with your test, but he's not there to stop waves from washing away hundreds of thousands of innocents.
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Old 09-06-2007, 11:34 AM   #92
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Originally posted by Irvine511

if we were to personify nature, as we do with God, the human quality associated with the tsunami would be cruelty. Holocaust-like cruelty.
I don't know. To my knowledge, most people in the tsunami died rather fast. In the Holocaust, most people died slowly.
So, nature in my view showed more mercy there than men did in the Holocaust.
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Old 09-06-2007, 11:56 AM   #93
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I don't know. To my knowledge, most people in the tsunami died rather fast. In the Holocaust, most people died slowly.
So, nature in my view showed more mercy there than men did in the Holocaust.


drowning is a terrible way to die.
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Old 09-06-2007, 12:01 PM   #94
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Hmmmm.
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Old 09-06-2007, 12:51 PM   #95
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Originally posted by Irvine511




drowning is a terrible way to die.
OK, that's right, who didn't die instantly had a hard way to go.

But I don't blame the nature for anything.
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Old 09-06-2007, 10:47 PM   #96
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Almost feels like a derailment at this point to ask, but has anyone in here got the book yet, or plan to?

I'd like to read or at least skim it myself at some point, though that may have to wait until my next break.

From an editorial in the Calcutta Telegraph a couple weeks back:
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...In a way, the irony seems too sharp to grasp. Her life was dedicated to the poor, the homeless, the old and the sick of the city; it is what she did for them that made her what she was. Yet it is here that she doubts the existence of the soul, of god, of Jesus, and feels that saving souls has no attraction. She is the first to call herself a hypocrite and her own smile a “mask”, for she speaks of god’s love continually without finding it. It is almost as if the suffering of the poor makes her question the existence of god; yet her deep faith forbids her mind the terms of such a question.

There is also some irony in the publication of the letters that the writer herself had wanted destroyed. The church wanted these preserved, in anticipation of her sainthood, and the volume has been edited by a proponent of her canonization. It may be that agonized doubts are an essential part of a saint’s life, but Mother Teresa’s “dark night of the soul”, spokespeople from the church admit, cannot be so easily contained in the traditional structure. By making them public, the church too is opening a window, even if for a moment. For lay people and unbelievers, Mother Teresa can now be seen as a hero like many other heroes, a great human being who struggled tirelessly for others, with a trust in life and hope that could not bank on faith, and for whom spiritual suffering was the greatest spur. She is great but familiar, for a moment shorn of the rhetoric of the church. A ‘secular’ heroism is easier to understand. Those Calcuttans who resented the fact that a nun should become famous by “saving souls” among the poor in their city may feel differently now.
So, apparently, if MT herself ever reflected on her doubts and feelings of despair in the context of seeing the kinds of issues we've been discussing here as the "trigger," it's not reflected in the book.
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Old 09-07-2007, 10:22 AM   #97
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I think I will read the book.

Honestly the prevailing thought I had when I read the Time article was that she might have been suffering from some clinical depression as well as having doubts about her faith.
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:39 PM   #98
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Hey Mommy T, take a number for those who question the invisible person in the sky that decides who the sports champions are going to be.
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