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Lessons of the fire

June 29, 2012

If there is a Christian Evangelical “New Jerusalem” in this country, it is Colorado Springs. There are megachurches galore, think tanks, institutions, and of course Focus On The Family. Even the Air Force Academy, located there, is known for evangelizing its recruits in violation of various rules and the US Constitution. It’s a home-rule municipality that seems to attract right-wing evangelicals like a magnet collects iron filings. So if any city in America should have God’s favor, it is Colorado Springs.

Today, Colorado Springs faces the advance of a monstrous wildfire that is burning homes and businesses, and even threatens the Air Force Academy. This is, by any humanitarian measure, an awful thing. At the very least it should teach us; “Install a fire-rated roof and make sure your home has a 25-foot vegetation-free zone around it. And under NO circumstances use vinyl siding.”. It Should, except that evangelical Christians, including some Congressmen, have made such a big deal over the years about natural disasters as bearing messages from God.

Every time there’s a hurricane that strikes a coastal city (there’s always sin in coastal cities) it’s God sending a message about gays, or adultery, or (against) affordable health care. Earthquake? Gays again. Or abortion, or labor unions or whatever. For some reason God only sends messages to places that were already set up for natural disasters – like Earthquakes to cities on fault lines or hurricanes to cities on the Gulf coast. And God never seems to get mad at Wall Street, unless maybe it’s gay Wall Street. Also, you would think God would really go after the Netherlands, a gay-tolerant, secular country located below sea level on the coast of sinful Europe. Or Canada, which has had gay marriage for a while now.

Not to say evangelicals aren’t onto something with the idea of trying to find lessons in natural disasters, however. It’s just that they’re picking up the wrong lessons. For some reason evangelical Christianity has latched onto the idea that anthropogenic global warming contradicts the bible. To me this would be a little like contradicting the mathematical lessons of Star Wars, except that saga makes a far more consistent story than the bible. But if Colorado Springs can burn (and last year, godly Texas) then maybe there’s something to the idea that the extreme-weather dice are loaded by global warming.

The lesson I suggest for evangelicals is this: stop getting your climate information from your pastor or his various analogs. I’m not worried that Gays will destroy society, but it has occurred to me that you might – by using your political power to delay action. This is an all-hands-on-deck situation, and you’re not helping. It is possible to practice Christianity in a way that isn’t an embarrassment to the human community; I’ve seen it done. Take off your damn tinfoil hat for once and listen.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. WeeDram
    June 30, 2012 at 21:24 | #1

    Yeah, well, it’s the HQ of The Navigators as well as being the location of “The Garden of the Gods”. I’m not sure they’re the same gods … oh wait there’s only one. Or is it three?

    • July 5, 2012 at 07:44 | #2

      For the most part, I haven’t followed the local reaction to the fire, George. But now I wish I had because of your post. I’ve been living in Colorado Springs for about 20 years now and I’m fortunate to live in a small bubble of liberalism — but surrounded by a sea of Evangelicals.

      James Dobson used to tell a story about one of his vice presidents over at Focus on the Family. The VP liked to stop at a donut shop on his way to work. The problem was, the shop was popular and parking was limited. So those mornings when the VP couldn’t find a place, he would circle the block praying to his savior to open up a parking space for him. Dobson somehow thought that was a commendable example of faith.

      You see, it never seems to occur to those people that prayer has nothing to do with it. So when the fires came, I’m sure plenty of Evangelicals spent their time praying for rain, or praying for the winds to calm down, or for the fire crews to have strength and stamina, and so forth. Like I said, I wasn’t paying attention to what they were doing, but I would bet my last dollar that’s what they were doing. And I would also bet that it will never occur to most of the folks doing all that praying that their prayers were not instrumental in the suppression of the fire.

      When you think about it, that’s pretty close to pure, liquid arrogance. It’s like the VP who thinks he’s so important in the eyes of his god that his god will even open up parking spaces for him while — half way around the world — his god allows a hundred children die from starvation in the same moment.

      By the way, Garden of the Gods was named Garden of the Gods long before the Evangelicals began migrating to the Springs in the mid and late 1980s. And the word “Gods” does not, so far as I know, refer to the Trinity. The name, I think, must have been given to the site simply because of its extraordinary natural beauty.

      Finally, if you’re interested, George, I’m back from my blogging hiatus with a new blog — Sunstone’s Cafe. It can be found here.

      • decrepadmin
        July 5, 2012 at 07:59 | #3

        Paul, I should install a “like” button on my blog just so I can Like your comment. And then unlike it just so I can like it again. Damn, you nailed it.

        And welcome back! I’ll update my blogroll so we can all find you.

  2. WeeDram
    July 11, 2012 at 18:34 | #6

    Paul: “pure, liquid arrogance” — that’s a wonderful phrase. I am not sure how much experience you have in or with the kind of fundamentalism in which Dobson and his ilk are immersed. However, that world is so completely, perfectly closed and explained that even the possibility of error, much less arrogance is not conceivable to them. I know, I was there for too many years. While it starts with brainwashing from the outside, it usually becomes self-directed delusion and psychological medication. It keeps one numb to reality.

    It’s quite sad.

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