Monday, January 03, 2005

Sitting Shiv'ah with those hurt or killed by the Tsunami

I know it is rather dodgy, if not sheer nonsense, to sit shiv'ah (a period of mourning marked by silence) by saying something. Nevertheless, a number of fine commentaries from a Christian perspective have been made on the situation; also a few quite wrongheaded statements have been made. I will pass over the latter in silence, but offer you links to the former -- also in silence.

David B. Hart, an Eastern Orthodox Theologian, writes on What kind of God would allow a deadly Tsunami? in the Wall Street Journal.

Also N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, writes a column entitled "Meanings of Christmas: In the new world there will be no more sea" in The Independent, a British newspaper. (Thanks to John at Subvergeance for pointing this one out.)

Finally, Archbishop Rowan Williams adds his voice to the mix with a fine column in The Sunday Telegraph. The title of his piece is "Of course this makes us doubt God's existence". Unfortunately, British journalists -- or at least headline writers -- seem to have the same tin ear for the rhetoric of faith that American journalists do, because an accompanying article featured the title "Archbishop of Canterbury admits: This makes me doubt the existence of God"! (For what it's worth, the article itself is not so bad and hews rather more closely to what Archbishop Rowan said. For more information on this situation, including Lambeth Palace's clarification of what the Archbishop said, check out the entry on the Thinking Anglicans blog.)

(Update 1/7/05: Mark Goodacre has contributed an eminently sensible critique of the Telegraph's odd complaint about the archbishop claiming he was misunderstood. Check it out.)

If I find more worthwhile theologizing on the topic of the Tsunami, I may add more links here later. Or I may not, because I suspect it is just one way of reassuring myself that I am "doing something" about it, which, in this way at least, manifestly I am not.

Also, am I alone in feeling that many of the pictures of the suffering border on prurient voyeurism? The enormity* of the event is well established enough already -- why more pictures?

(*Yes, that is the British sense of "enormity".)

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