Jan 13, 2010

Haiti's Deal With The Devil

Pat Robertson has an interesting explanation for the tragedy that is unfolding in Haiti:

"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about. They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.' True story. And so the devil said, 'Ok it’s a deal.' And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another."

Makes one wonder what he would have to say if an earthquake were to strike Virginia tomorrow, where I understand he is based.

But instead of dwelling on Pat Robertson's B.S, or how badly God wanted Sarah Palin's to be VP, I have been left to ask myself what reason there is to believe in anything but a Deist God. When one sees apparently God-forsaken peoples and countries, believing that God intervenes to help us find our keys, help us have a good day at work, or even save our lives, suddenly doesn't feel so comforting -- or at the very least, certainly not without a whole lot of guilt.

How I would trade up divine intervention to find my lost keys if it meant that someone in Haiti could have been spared from having their head smashed in by a crumbling wall, or being left with severed legs to die on the street.

I have to ask myself what's worse: the fact that God doesn't intervene or that he does? Because if he does, I think he's playing favourites.

Atheism must get a lot of new members on days like today.


Bored in Vernal said...


Jenilyn said...

When you describe Haiti as a god-forsaken people, I think you err. Many, many countries and organizations have helped Haiti over the years. I just heard on the news that the U.S. has given Haiti over one billion dollars in aid over the last five years. Not to mention the countless NGO's doing health care, education, etc. I think God, through people and countries, has shown how much He cares for them. It is not God's fault that Haiti, like many other third-world countries, are run by evil people. But it is our responsibility to help those in need and for those in need to to take the help and better themselves and their communities.

Carol said...

Haiti's suffering now and in the past highlights the world communities neglect of the poor. I pray for the day when we will turn our swords into plowshares. I believe President Kimball was inspired in his 1976 talk when he highlighted the false gods we worship as militarism, materialism, and immorality. If all peoples of the world would share their excess with those in need--and if leaders of nations would make certain that foreign aid goes to the needy and not into their own pockets--we could provide clean water, shelter, food, and medicine for all people in the world.

ECS said...

I think it _is_ God's fault that evil people run Haiti's government. If it's God's fault that we find lost car keys, then it's certainly God's fault that Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake yesterday. Or is God merely a God of Small Things?

Anonymous said...

ESC - do you believe it's God's fault people lose their keys? Sorry, I don't understand your thinking?

I think most people understand that the situation is Haiti is much more important than their lost keys.

Hye Sung said...

one of my favorite writers wrote something sweet about pat's comments. this isn't pat's first time and don showed us the psychology and silliness behind this behavior. let's not be mad but pity.


Mark said...

Few things in the news make my heart ache. This earthquake is one of them. Haiti has seen so much hardship, and now this? It's almost too much to mentally bear.

J G-W said...

Well, this is the same guy who blamed 911 on the "ACLU, abortionists, feminists, gays, and the People For the American Way," and who blamed the last earthquake in San Francisco on the gays.

Way to show compassion.

Which, by the way, from a theistic perspective, is what this should be all about.

Mormon Heretic said...

Pat Robertson is turning out to be a real crack pot. It's hard to believe he used to be taken seriously as a legit presidential candidate.

Since his 9/11 gaffe, I don't take much he says seriously. He's a real piece of work.

Anonymous said...

The problem of how a loving God can co-exist with an observable world in which horrible things happen is certainly something that has motivated much of my own religious thinking.

My own answer is very different from most people's: God is a God of both creation and destruction, often in the same act. Haiti is created literally by, maybe, a million earthquakes like the one this week. That long western tail you see on the maps of the island is a mountain range pushed up from the sea floor by just such earthquakes. Creation and destruction -- all in the same act.

A God who doesn't incorporate both aspects in His nature is not the God of our reality.

Have the LDS directed any organized response to this yet?


The Faithful Dissident said...

The problem for me, actually, is not so much about where God doesn't intervene (i.e. earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.), but rather the things where he supposedly does, if we are to believe all the petty (in comparison to earthquakes and tsunamis) accounts of God's intervention and blessings that we would hear on any given day in sacrament meeting. Like lost keys, for example. We actually had a similar discussion a while back about Claus von Stauffenberg and what his assassination attempt on Hitler could tell us about the nature of God.

The other thing that always nags at me whenever a disaster like this strikes in the third world is that it reminds me of Bruce R. McConkie-type statements that could cause us to have thoughts about the fate of these individuals having something to do with their behaviour in the pre-existence.

Bad memories, I guess.

Fire Tag, you can read about the LDS relief efforts here.

In December I decided to pay my 10% to the humanitarian fund instead of tithing. I hope it's being used.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Hye Sung, thanks for sharing that link. It was very good!

Anonymous said...

When tragedies like this happen, I tend to rely on the following to make sense of God's role (or non-role) in the events:

Bad things happen to good people (to steal from Rabbi Kushner). They just do. It's part of mortality and it sucks. Sure, God could prevent all of it, but that's not life.

We'll never know why God intervenes when he does and doesn't when he doesn't, but our lack of understanding doesn't make him less of a god.

Reed Winters said...

It is unfortunate that I am reminded of the gods of ancient Greece by Pat's reaction (as well as some of the comments' authors). Anthropomorphizing every function of nature, chance, time, etc. into Gods.

I can handle the idea of a Deist God. But I cannot understand how people think that every little thing (or big thing -- like, say, an earthquake) is the result of God.

Bad things happen to bad people?
'Twas God's heavy hand. Punishment!
Bad things happen to good people?
'Twas God's love. Trials help us grow!
Good things happen to good people?
'Twas God's graciousness. Blessings!
Good things happen bad people?
'Twas also God graciousness, who loves everyone, even the wicked. But God probably will not bless them as much as the righteous. I mean, he loves everyone, just chooses to manifest his love more with some than others. So this last one is less likely.

Oh but wait, I forgot to incorporate the devil into all of this. We can't forget he's practically a God himself, with all the power he has. Less than the righteous God of course, but more than any mortal. (How'd Lucifer get all this power, btw? Did god give it to him? Part of the plan?)

Why don't people see how ridiculous all of this is? God only "intervenes" in your head. God's "intervention" is nothing more than a manifestation of your desires..

Woman survives a bus crash. Because God intervened, surely. Such a miracle. But What about the other 23 who died? Well, it was their time probably. Right?


Anonymous said...


While my interpretation of reality is pantheistic rather than deist, I think your point is well taken: we can't define the acts attributable to God or not on the basis of our own personal wishes.

If life is fair, it's probably because we all find ourselves with the necessity/opportunity to play the role of oppressor and oppressed, victim or rescuer. (Takes more than one universe to do that, of course.)

To try to paraphrase how one of my friends who is a theologian working on his PhD put it, we don't understand the atonement or our need for it until we understand that no matter how much we follow the works of the law, we are still complicit. The good can never be good enough, the brave never brave enough, the strong never strong enough, and so we all turn away at some point and let the innocent die. Our own law condemns us all, even when we are victims.

Reality is either graceful, or it isn't. But our religions are weak illusions when reality breaks in.


Papa D said...

I have no profound explanation to give. I can say is that I believe deeply in the concept that "there must needs be opposition in ALL things" - including devastation like in Haiti and someone finding their lost car keys.

Frankly, I'm not sure which is worse - the suffering being experienced in Haiti right now or the suffering of someone being abused in a long-term relationship - or being bi-polar without any chance of medication or intervention - or losing multiple children to unexpected death in the course of only a few years - or watching a loved one die slowly of cancer - or any other manifestation of sore suffering.

The key, imo, is seeing things through the lens of charity - and, as hard as I try to do so in regard to Pat Robertson's comment, it is this type of statement that tests the limits of my resolve. In the end, I am left to feel sorry for him - deeply, painfully sorry.

If you are interested, FD, my last two weekend posts are focused on charity suffering long and being kind. There are a couple of lines in them that I think are relevant to your post.

Anonymous said...

FD, I have heard of people, who now have donated more than an extra 10% on top of tithing to LDS Humanitarian Services. They're the one agency sure to take all our aid there, without ridiculous overheads.

Matt Brinton said...

"Atheism must get a lot of new members on days like today."
Yes, but on day like yesterday, when an 80 yr old woman was pulled out alive, Christianity must get a lot of new members. (science says 5-7days without water and you are dead) Is this luck or Divine intervention?

A great deal of the devastating occurrences to impoverished areas can be explained simply by geographic location. Haiti is right on a slip plate. New Orleans is in a basin lower than sea level, etc. Unfortunately, the poor are drawn to these areas as they can't "afford" to live elsewhere and are therefor the most effected by natural disasters. Add to their misfortunes the evils of their governments and you've got heartache waiting to happen.

FD, you say a lot of Atheist's are discovered on days like this, but doesn't the following acts of charity after the disasters make one's faith stronger?

A thought I have pondered: Why are the vast majority of third world countries and disaster prone areas inhabited by people of color? Im not racist, I just had that thought. Does God play favorites?

Anonymous said...

...On the other hand, I just went to a humanitarian site that placed all of the blame for the earthquake's toll on Western colonialism. Which, I guess, is just a way of saying that the Devil was really on the side of the French (and now on the side of the evil oppressive Americans, somehow.)

I guess this just means that overwhelming pain brings out shame when we can't possibly alleviate all of it.


Kaylanamars said...

It's hard to grasp what God's role really is. I want to be thankful and grateful in my life to God, but it's so hard to do that when so many in the world do not have the same opportunities, etc that I have in life. What makes my life more important to have God intervene on my behalf like you say to find a lost set of keys, for a job, etc...things that seem so tedious when compared to the mass of human suffering everywhere. It feels so trite and self-deluding.

I have no answer...maybe God really is a respecter of persons...if you're male and white you get more...I really hope God isn't racist nor sexist, but it's so hard to tell in this world.