I’ve always found it slightly frustrating that so many people wait until a major newsworthy catastrophe to start wondering whether God isn’t something of a cock.
What’s going on in Haiti is clearly awful (and the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders could use your help), but if you want to question why God allows such suffering to exist, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of other examples to latch onto. You don’t have to wait for an earthquake or tsunami or terrorist attack; people are getting raped and murdered and starving to death all over the place, all the time.
And unsurprisingly, when the topic does come up, and God’s appointed spokespeople start offering answers… well, you’re generally lucky if “embarrassing” is the worst you can say of it.
I’m not familiar with John Sentamu’s work, but Archbishop of York sounds like a fairly important job title, as these things go. But he doesn’t have a coherent answer to the question either, as evidenced by a recent interview he gave, prompted by the earthquakes in Haiti.
He comes out with some waffle about God being “fully engaged”, and how he is “with us” throughout such events, which sounds like an admission that God is sadistic enough to want thousands upon thousands of people to suffer, to starve, to die. What kind of comfort is it meant to be that he’s there, if he won’t do anything useful to help?
I’m not entirely clear what he’s referring to when he says:
…what you are seeing is the face of God being disfigured, ah, and that is quite — pretty, pretty appalling.
But what I am clear on is that, if you’re hearing about an earthquake ripping a country apart, killing thousands and leaving vast numbers homeless, and what appals you is the disfigurement of God’s face, then you need to get your fucking priorities straight.
The interviewer presses the archbishop on the question of a “slot-machine-type God”, who deals out tragedy at random, or at least allows it to fall randomly. The archbishop denies that this is the case… and then goes on to make exactly that argument, saying that bad things can happen to anyone at any time, and not just to bad people. I’m not sure he has any more of an idea what he’s saying than I do.
And then he says something about Pat Robertson which I won’t insult the English language by calling a sentence.
It’s been a couple of thousand years or so, and we’re still waiting for an answer: