12/21/2012 11:09 am ET Updated Feb 20, 2013

Not-So-Special Providence

It has often been said that that the United States has been guided by the hand of Special Providence. This term is a sort of euphemism for God, and this softened term would seem to serve as a bow to Deist sympathies. Furthermore, it would be a little stark to say (although some do) that the United States is guided by the hand of God. What about the other nations?

The historian Marie Lemonnier has written that each time there is a natural disaster, as in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, people begin to doubt the existence of God. Voltaire's reaction to that particular event was, "Providence is really screwed up."

A visitor to Auschwitz in May 2006 exclaimed, "Lord, why did you remain silent. Why did you allow this?" Who was this visitor? It was Pope Benedict XVI, when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger.

The events of Dec. 14 at Newtown, Conn., were particularly horrific; for if a teenager is cut down or otherwise dies, he or she at least has had a taste of life. These were very little children -- all of them beautiful, as President Obama said in his initial statement after the tragedy.

As I wrote in a poem entitled "9/11" some months after that tragedy:

The world cried "God Bless America"
As the walls came tumbling down.
But how could He bless what had happened
Unless He didn't care.
And if He didn't care
Why cry for His protection at all?

This dilemma escapes the faithful
And perhaps that's as it should be
For the other view is only of nothingness
And despair.

No one can tell us why
There seems a cruel and unrelenting God
Till death ends the mystery of life.