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Pat Robertson on Haiti

January 14, 2010

Christians are in an uproar about this.

Let’s be honest; Robertson is just reading his Bible pretty faithfully.

Read the prophets. There god talks like he’s an abusive husband: “Israel, why do you keep making me hit you? I wouldn’t beat you, but you keep making me so angry!”

Or read the New Testament. According to the New Testament, god is going to bring an apocalypse to destroy all the evil people in the world. He’s not going to upbraid them, punish them, throw them in jail, or whatever—but destroy them. Maybe the Haitians should consider an earthquake a slap on the wrist?

If we reject what Pat Robertson suggests as plainly ridiculous, won’t we have to reject much of what is in the Bible as plainly ridiculous?

16 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2010 12:05 pm

    I think the problem is that he takes it upon himself to judge the meaning of the event (which undoubtably God must have at the very least allowed).

    At the same time, I always feel kind of deprived that Gildas is allowed to blame the ills of the day on the evil and negligent ways of the Britons, and the Anglo-Saxons are allowed to assume the Norman invasion is God’s judgement for their growing laxity, but if I try and tell people that terrorism is judgement from God because of our present day laxity or whatever that is totally not on.

  2. stephanielouisefisher permalink
    January 14, 2010 5:40 pm

    He’s reading the Bible as the people of the OT may have read it but wouldn’t many Christians and even fairly conservative ones, say that the teachings of Jesus overturned that? He spoke of eternal judgement in God’s hands, not of natural disasters being used to punish particular people. So he’s not very ‘Christian’ at all and it doesn’t reflect Jesus’ vision of eternal judgement. Personally I think the straight jacket should fit him snugly.

  3. Beelzebub permalink
    January 15, 2010 12:31 am

    In my experience, there’s really no such thing as “not [being] very Christian,” just disagreeing with this or that particular Christian. All you have to do is read the same book!

  4. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    January 15, 2010 9:13 am

    Sophia, why am I not surprised that you would want to make those sorts of judgments! :)

    Stephanie: I think I disagree with your first line. I don’t think the people of the OT had the OT—I think they were just featured in it, for the most part. And the teachings of Jesus overturned nothing in the OT (“I came not to abolish the law or the prophets”), as far as I can tell, and certainly not the actions of his god. If anything, Paul’s teachings overturned the law—but again, Paul doesn’t challenge the actions of his god in the OT, does he? I’ve never read in the NT that their god made poor decisions back in the day, only that some of the rules he prescribed back then needn’t be followed any longer.

    And as far as eternal judgment goes—I don’t know. If I got on the wrong side of the vinyard owner (Mark 12), I bet I’d be in for some pretty rough shit.

    Beelzebub: ditto.

  5. January 15, 2010 10:43 am

    Rereading over this though I was struck by a thought…
    Back in the days of 1066 it was probably more comforting for the Anglo-Saxons to think “this is happening to us because as punishment, we brought it upon ourselves” – nowadays it is probably more comforting for modern people to think “this is just a random fact of nature and no-one is to blame”…

    …but I wonder why? Maybe it’s because people nowadays are over-anxious about morality? That they would rather suffer something (or see other people as suffering something) without reason, than to dare to ascribe blame?

  6. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    January 15, 2010 10:56 am

    I imagine that denunciations of groups because of the actions of a few has become less popular in some cases because it smacks of undeserved prejudice (and in Pat’s case, possibly implicit racism).

  7. January 15, 2010 11:02 am

    So why was it popular in 1066?

  8. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    January 15, 2010 11:07 am

    Cause in 1066 we didn’t have a widespread liberal critique of prejudice?

  9. January 15, 2010 11:26 am

    I don’t know that its the prejudice thing because it applies as much when it is “us” as when it is “the other”.

  10. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    January 15, 2010 11:29 am

    Yeah, you’re right. I haven’t given much thought to it. It’s an interesting question: why do certain ways of responding to disaster pass in and out of popularity?

  11. Beelzebub permalink
    January 15, 2010 11:47 am

    God can’t very well control the weather from the grave.

  12. stephanielouisefisher permalink
    January 15, 2010 7:06 pm

    I didn’t actually mean they literally had the OT but they understood the ‘scriptures’ or teachings of the prophets demonstrating God’s continual judgement and punishment of the world. And yes Jesus saw that no differently but now he spoke of the kingdom of God, and the final judgement as coming. And this judgement is eternal, that is why he set out on a mission to call Jewish people back to God (tuv, metanoia, repent).

    He just got it wrong.

    And Beelzebub – not very Christian equals not Christian, ie before Jesus. He leaves out the teaching of Jesus and speaks of judgement in terms understood before Jesus envisioned the final judgement.

  13. Beelzebub permalink
    January 15, 2010 10:43 pm

    I know that “not very Christian equals not Christian.” My point is, if you ask Robertson if he’s a Christian, he’s going to say yes. You can squabble about the authenticity of one person or another’s Christianity all you like, but what you’re not going to be able to do is prove anything. For all intents and purposes, anyone who says they are a Christian, is a Christian.

  14. stephanielouisefisher permalink
    January 16, 2010 12:09 am

    You seem to be taking it very literally :-)

  15. January 16, 2010 12:33 pm

    Robinson’s response strikes me as very like John Wesley’s sermon on the meaning of the Lisbon earthquake some 250 years ago. He saw it as conclusive proof of the consequences of sin.

    And I’m also reminded of a conversation on Australia’s yoof radiostation Triple J after the Boxing Day tsunami between a priest and an atheist comedian. The comedian asked how God could possibly sit back and let all these people suffer, and the priest responded by explaining, as if to a child, where tsunamis come from and aksed the funny man what, precisely, he was doing. It was one of those cases when you could see how fundamentalist and atheist (often ex-fundamentalist) readings of the bible are so similar.

    In any case, Robinson’s right, but for the wrong reasons. Haiti made multiple deals with the devil; when they were forced to pay massive reparations to France to compensate the ruling class after the uppity slaves went and emancipated themselves, then some 200 years later when they shacked up with the IMF. I wouldn’t be surprised if another infernal deal is on the card with the USA. Having US warships sitting in your harbour is a fine negotiating strategy.

  16. January 16, 2010 8:36 pm

    Well, I do reject much of what is in the Bible as plainly ridiculous.

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