Wrath of God


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May 27, 2007
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Jim>>God spanked the town/ for being over frisky. Why did he burn the churches down/ and save Hotaling's Whiskey?<<

Ha funniest thing I've seen all night. Maybe Hotaling's proprietor was a religious man?
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Dave Gittins

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Monica, you bring the toasting fork and I'll bring the marshmallows.

The list of atheists is a bit suspect. It's like those lists that claim anybody of note was gay. Verdi, for one, was believer, who was buried as a Catholic. Like others on the list, he was anti-church, but a theist.

If we must drag religion into the Titanic story, it might be instructive to examine reactions to the disaster in 1912.

Much material can be found in Titanica, a compilation by Steven Biel, and in Extra Titanic, compiled by Eric Caren and Steve Goldman. Accounts of religious reaction are also in many contemporary newspapers, which often routinely published sermons, for the past is indeed a different country.

Much of the material has common themes. For Reverend Charles Parker, it was “the terrific and ghastly illustration of what things come to when men throw God out at the door and take a golden calf in at the window.” The theme of the vanity of riches is frequently raised. Like others, Parker also preached against “that silly passion for haste that comes with money and with the love of money.” Indeed, “Money was the fundamental factor in the entire business.” Like others, Parker found some consolation in the “magnanimity that is wont to slumber in every human soul”. This magnanimity was displayed during the sinking. Parker’s thoughts were echoed by many and might be summed up by the Bishop of Winchester. “Titanic, name and thing, will stand as a monument and warning to human presumption.”

Some called for a sense of proportion. The Reverend Frank Adams reminded his hearers that the death toll of Titanic was small compared to the losses in mines, railways, child labour and the white slave trade. He contrasted the relatively short death throes of Titanic’ victims with the deaths of those who “die by inches, in a sordid soul-killing enviroment” and whose last thought is “No man cares for my soul.” Others expressed similar views.

The Lutheran Standard took a less common line. The victims of Titanic were generally Christians who had ample opportunity to make peace with their maker. While their loss was lamentable, it was nothing compared to the deaths of thousands of heathens who die ever day, without have heard the Christian gospel. This thought should provoke us “to more zealous missionary activity.”

Perhaps the most contemptible remarks came from George Richmond, Rector of St John’s Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, who had earlier denounced J J Astor’s second marriage. “Mr Astor and his crowd of New York and Newport associates have for years paid not the slightest attention to the laws of church or state which have seemed to contravene their personal pleasures or sensual delights. But you can’t defy God all the time. The day of reckoning comes and comes not in our own way…This calamity ought to be a lesson to men like Astor.” One is tempted to ask why Astor couldn’t have been neatly removed by a lightning strike or a motor accident. Were the other 1,495 victims all notorious sinners, who deserved to be collateral damage?

These are only small samples of the available material, which displays a wide range of views, some charitable and others from the fire and brimstone school. If nothing else, they show how times have changed, at any rate in much of the world.
 
Jun 11, 2000
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Yes, I know what you mean Dave. Some of them sort of hedged their bets by saying there must be something, but not a caring god in the human image. There are a surprising number of composers who made their reputations, if not stacks of money at the time, via oratorios, requiems etc., only to be revealed through their correspondence to have thought these subjects merely very good vehicles for dramatic art and pleasing their backers. Verdi, I understand, was buried as a Catholic by his family - a fate which must often befall the sceptical. And I'm not sure what good that would really do. I guess we'll find out in the fullness of time .... like whether or not he's in the queue for the marshmallows.
 

Jim Kalafus

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> George: Maybe Hotaling's proprietor was a religious man?

Possibly! Or perhaps he used a better building contractor and ended up with a structure that was not compromised by the earthquake, and with a fireproof roof that was actually fireproof.

Regarding God's bad aim, many of the "Wickedness Avenged" sermons that followed the Johnstown Flood were preached by men unaware that although churches, a convent, 99 entire families, and the town's "High Class" house of prostitution were swept away, the "low" houses of ill repute survived. One could go on endlessly in this vein.

One thing that strikes, historically and in the present, is the galling lack of tact inherent in these sermons. A minister friend of mine has a sign behind his lecturn reading "Remember- the man at this pulpit is a sinner, too" to serve as a constant reminder of the need for humility- and the funny thing is, several guest preachers have been offended by it! Odd that people who should be aware of the judge not lest ye be judged credo so frequently ignore it, whether it be denouncing Astor, Princess Diana, or AIDS victims.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>If nothing else, they show how times have changed, at any rate in much of the world.<<

Have they? Maybe in Europe to a certain degree but over on my side of the pond, the seeds of fundementalist religious hysteria are well and truly there just waiting for a little fertilizer to cause them to sprout and flourish.

If anybody thinks this sort of thing is benign, take a look at nation-states both past and present which have been or are now theocracies. These have been ugly and scary places to live. The Church gave us such things as persecutions, inquisitions and with burnings. The Islamic version has offered public executions in the soccer stadium as popular entertainment.

In fairness, the Abrahamic pantheon is hardly the only one which does this. However, it's the one that a lot of us are the most familier with.

Religion can be the councience of society and I have no problem with that. The Golden Rule is a beautifully simple and wise ethic to live by whether you're a believer or not. What I do have a problem with are the joyboys past and present who have used it to justify every horror and atrocity in the book.
 
May 27, 2007
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Jim: >>One thing that strikes, historically and in the present, is the galling lack of tact inherent in these sermons.<<<

I hear you on that and concur. My Grandfather ounce said to my Grandmother,"Yellow Journalists are just failed ministers any way you look at it!" She knew what he meant immediately. It was late November 1963 and they had both just listened to a fire and brimstone sermon about the country going to heck in a hand basket. It took my Brother and I a long while to figure out what Grandpa meant by that. Of course there are great preacher and ministers,Pastors in the world and then there are some who will take a tragedy and spin and exploit it for all it worth like a yellow Journalist.
 

Inger Sheil

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quote:

Regarding God's bad aim, many of the "Wickedness Avenged" sermons that followed the Johnstown Flood were preached by men unaware that although churches, a convent, 99 entire families, and the town's "High Class" house of prostitution were swept away, the "low" houses of ill repute survived. One could go on endlessly in this vein.

Indeed - we saw it again in the 2004 Tsunami. There were many instances where the Mosque was the only structure left standing in a village. Some Muslims proclaimed this evidence of Allah's hand. Some particularly venemous individuals who professed to be Christian spat out that it was actually Satan's intervention, protecting his own.

More likely, I'd suggest, is the probablility that they were built more structurally sound to begin with.​
 

Jim Kalafus

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Another egregious example of this mindset:

http://www.olafire.com/

After the December 1958 fire at Our Lady of the Angels School, in Chicago, that killed 91 students and three nuns, apparently the children who survived were told, in certain cases, that God had "taken" the "good" children. As far as I know, none of the children asked the obvious question, which is "Did he only take the truly good nuns, as well?"
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Some particularly venemous individuals who professed to be Christian spat out that it was actually Satan's intervention, protecting his own.<<

Such lovely people. Not!

>>As far as I know, none of the children asked the obvious question, which is "Did he only take the truly good nuns, as well?"<<

I wonder if any of them would survive asking that question. An outraged nun can be formidable!
 
May 27, 2007
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Michael: I wonder if any of them would survive asking that question. An outraged nun can be formidable!<<<

Yes, especially when they have their rulers aka chastising sticks of Christ at hand. Then they become quite formidable indeed.
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