Reflections on Faith, Pat Robertson, and Nacho Trays
The denial of reason seems to be alive and well. Consider several recent articles.
Exhibit A. A news report out of Ohio tells the tale of a man whose truck fell 30 feet from an interstate overpass. How did he survive? In his words, it was by “God’s grace.” He says he prayed before falling onto the road below and, after he felt a sense of “peace,” he landed without major injury. Although physics can explain his survival, some would rather say it was the hand of God.
Exhibit B. In Oklahoma, Tina Womack found the faces of Baby Jesus and the Holy Mother on her ceiling. She cut the image down, only to find pools of water appearing wherever she placed it: “I have never actually witnessed the image crying, so I can't really be sure that is why all those water puddles keep showing up. But I can't think of any other explanation for it.” Hmmm.
Exhibit C. Believers have seen the Virgin Mary’s likeness in the bark of a tree at Eva Alejandro-Pena’s home near Dallas, Texas. Pilgrims—who clamor to get close to the tree to heal their diabetes, cancer, and myriad miscellaneous maladies—are even coming “straight from the hospital with bandages still on them,” according to Alejandro. The reports did not reveal if proximity to the bark cured any ailments.
Exhibit D. Restaurant workers in Jacksonville, Florida, discovered the image of Jesus in their nacho warming tray. A cook says he was preparing to empty the tray when he saw the Son of God looking up at him; the restaurant will retire the holy pan from its food preparation career.
I’m not making this up.
But, in news that tends to get less attention, there is a different side of divine intervention. Witness:
Exhibit E. In rural Malawi, at least 11 members of a church congregation died after a bolt of lightning struck their pre-Christmas gathering.
Exhibit F. Pat Robertson claimed recently that God punished Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with a massive stroke because he had pulled Israeli troops out of Gaza. Mr. Robertson, you may recall, said last month that God might enact punishment on a Pennsylvania town because its citizens removed school board members who had placed “intelligent design” in public schools.
Compare and contrast.
Some people say that when a man avoids danger, God must have intervened. Or they see the hand of divinity in ceiling stains, a knot of wood, or a cooking pan.
That’s a lot of faith.
Yet when things suck—when, let’s say, eleven people die at a church from a freak lightning strike—there aren’t too many voices blaming God.
Color me confused. Should I see the hand of God behind every event, or only the ones that turn out well? What’s a man to believe in these crazy times?
Well, I’m going with what I see. And what I see is that sometimes men fall from 30 feet and live. Sometimes, a chunk of tree bark will look like a long-dead European painter’s representation of a Caucasian Jesus. And sometimes, just sometimes, an elderly Israeli leader will have a stroke—for purely medical reasons.
But we all might have a little more faith if Pat Robertson suddenly went mute.