Below is a letter I submitted to the weekly newspaper, the Neepawa Banner today.
I am puzzled by a recent column in the weekly newspaper, the Neepawa Banner by Rev. Neil Strohschein, entitled “A Christian response to natural disasters.”
Reverend, you rightly take to task some wack-a-doodle American sociologist who apparently suggested Hurricane Harvey was God’s wrath upon Texans for voting Republican.
But I find your conclusion that God loves the victims of such storms, cries out for further explanation. (And the questions I ask, below, are not rhetorical. I really want to know.)
Who or what is making these storms in the first place, then? Is it not God? Because the faithful believe God is all-powerful, do they not?
If it is not Him, who/what is it, then? Does He not have the power to prevent such calamities? If He does not, does that not make Him less than all-powerful?
And if it is Him, please explain to me how raining down such massive misery and destruction on his flock can possibly be an act of love?
While you do not address this following point in your column, it is one which, IMHO, also cries out for a response from the religious.
It is customary in the face of tragedy to hold prayer vigils. The most recent, sanctioned by the Governor of Texas and the President himself (in response to Harvey), happened just a couple of Sundays ago. A few days later, a storm of even greater ferocity was bearing down on another State. Could you please help me understand, Reverend, what this tells us about the power of prayer?
You rightly conclude that monster storms are becoming more frequent. Yet you ignore any reference to manmade climate change - long proven by scientists to be a major contributing factor here.
Other religious leaders like the Pope accept this science - that our addiction to fossil fuels is heating up the planet and providing even more fuel for monsters like Harvey and Irma.
The United Church recognizes the science, too. It even calls upon its followers to “be part of a just transition to a renewable energy economy.”
Where do you stand on this?
Obviously, a lot of people believe they need religion to give them comfort in hard times. But surely, we also need “all hands on deck,” to apply practical, on the ground, scientific solutions to at least keep these tragedies to a minimum in the future.
Is your faith community, Rev. Strohschein, part of such a united effort, or are you separate and apart?
Perhaps you could find it in your heart to write a follow-up column, addressing my concerns?