I was relaxing on my couch watching Homeland the other night and wondering about all of the things East Coasters must have done wrong to deserve the divine retribution of the last week or so.
It is hard for me to fully comprehend God's will, but luckily I have some really well-informed spiritual guides who help me to figure out what God really thinks.
I felt terrible about September 11th, and spent a lot of time trying to figure out what had happened in the Arab world that 27 people, well-educated and from middle-class families could determine to commit suicide. In every culture for as long as our history is known, suicide and homicide have been crimes held in special contempt. Multiple homicide, in particular, has been viewed as a peculiarly heinous act. The 9/11 bombers committed both -- multiple homicide and suicide. How, I wondered, were they convinced to do this?
I thought it was important for me, personally, and for our government to recognize the reasons because understanding why might help us to prevent future attacks. At first, it was difficult... but then the wise and humble Reverend Jerry Falwell explained that the attacks were at least, in part, God's retribution against those in the United States who sought to secularize society. That was a big relief for me. I no longer had to puzzle through the social and political struggles in the Arab world that led to the growth of Al Qaeda.
I wondered, too, about what could be done after the Earthquake in Haiti. I thought about how American policy might aid in the foundation of democracy there, whether development funding models should be altered, and how to deal with construction rules in such a poverty-stricken nation. I wondered, too, for a moment, whether the burning of fossil fuels could have caused a global warming that might be affecting weather events. But then the prominent Republican preacher Pat Robertson explained that it was a result of the Haitian's "pact with the devil" Well, that was really a relief. I no longer had to consider any of those difficult questions.
My mind drifted about the causes of Hurricane Katrina, and how the dikes were designed and constructed and maintained, whether FEMA policies could be changed to be more flexible in its responses, and whether cities should develop more sophisticated disaster plans. But the more I looked into these questions, the more often I found conservative Christian leaders who knew the actual reasons, which, in Katrina's case, were the sins of the people of New Orleans.
I was so happy to know that there are humans here on earth who know God's will so well that I don't have to worry about public policy any more. I can stay here at home and keep watching Homeland, and just avoid the places where sinners congregate; this last part is tough for me because, as a sinner myself, I enjoy the company of fellow sinners. But even if their Wisdom did not make me any safer, it did absolve me from any responsibility as a citizen to try to improve our government and its policies.
I keep hearing news commentators talking about why the Republican party lost the election. Many blame it on the Republicans being out of touch, about not caring about the issues that are important to single women or Latinos or young people.
But then I remembered the rain.
If Hurricane Isaac had not blown out the Republican convention this summer in Tampa; if superstorm Sandy had not hit the East Coast and messed up all of their GOTV efforts the Republicans surely would have won. So, I have Good News for the Republicans. You do not have to do any soul-searching. You don't have to re-think your policies. You just have to stop running your campaigns where people are sinning. It is not your policies that are the problem. It is our behavior.