I was driving home after celebrating my wife’s twin sons’ 32nd birthdays, having enjoyed excellent lasagna, salad, and homemade ice-cream-cake, in the company of some very good people.  Cruising north on Ohio I-77, the powerful, easy grace of my Mustang GT thrilled my senses as we charged north toward Cuyahoga County and home.  What was totally unexpected was the display proffered by an electronic billboard, off to my left.  In bold primary colors, it displayed the Lone Star flag and above that, the message: GOD BLESS TEXAS.

Puzzlement at such a message should only be natural among those who actively engage their intellectual facilities.  If the god proposed by the majority of believers in this country if not elsewhere is the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being they allege, then he must also be a textbook case of manic-depressive disorder at least and dissociative personality disorder at worst.  What kind of deity would so completely and devastatingly attack such a considerable area as that of southeast Texas, using the mechanism of a stalled tropical depression to draw vast quantities of water from the Gulf of Mexico and then dump them on the cities of that coastline AND THEN come to their aid after the fact?  This is far less the behavior I would expect of a loving, nurturing god than it reflects actions I would anticipate from an abusive spouse, attacking one second then apologizing and offering faux-support the next.

What makes all of the above even more absurd is that there is no sign whatsoever of Yahweh’s direct hand in the recovery process to this date.  No supernatural intervention has shown itself in Houston or Port Arthur or Beaumont or any of the multiple other municipalities which were hammered by Hurricane Harvey.  Whatever hands are involved in rescue or providing food or shelter or managing what I would now hope is a falling tide of water, they are human hands.  Plain folk are flying the rescue helicopters or piloting the boats or delivering people to shelters or making sure they’ve had something to eat and a place to sleep.  Finally, when the flood has receded and residents attempt to reinvent their lives and rebuild, those will also be the actions of ordinary people, helping themselves and each other to reclaim their homesteads and piece back together what had been torn apart.

And just what did that tearing in the first place?  Nature.  A natural force called a hurricane, possibly enhanced by the results of climate change, ripped through those communities and did that damage because that’s what the local meteorological conditions caused it to do.  It was a massive incident of positive entropy, which will have to be met by the positive intention of those hardest hit by it to resist and persist against that force.

We’re talking about humankind against nature here, a contest which has gone on for thousands of years and will continue to do so, whether we like it or not.  It is a truism that, in the final analysis, the universe doesn’t care about us, and if we are to survive, we must care for and about each other.  No unseen, intangible god will make so much as a whit of difference, one way or the other.

The weight is on us.

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Comment by Loren Miller on September 2, 2017 at 10:15am

"Prayer is spiritual masturbation" ... which may not even deign to supply an orgasm as positive feedback!

Thanks for that, Bertold!

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on September 2, 2017 at 10:06am

Michael Stone of Progressive Secular Humanist agrees in a big way.

Trump Declares ‘National Day of Prayer’ For Hurricane Harvey Victims

To Whom Are We To Pray? The God who caused Hurricane Harvey, or the God who did nothing to stop it? Trump declares “National Day of Prayer.”
Trump is a poseur, and a charlatan, and in this he has a great deal in common with the conservative Christian leaders gathered around him. His declaration of prayer is nothing but pomp and circumstance meant to impress and placate gullible rubes.

As for the “National Day of Prayer,” the uncomfortable truth that many cannot accept is that God does not exist, and that prayers are ultimately futile gestures – empty expressions of existential desperation and metaphysical confusion.

For all intents and purposes, prayer is spiritual masturbation: it might make the person doing the praying feel a little better, but prayers do nothing to effect change in the real world.

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