When I spent the holidays back east, I went to church with Veteran Seeker. I hadn't seen him in a year or two so it was a nice way to catch up, especially since he is quite spiritual. We visited the Episopalian church he frequents which, interestingly enough, is where we met for the first time. (We met through Fellow Seeker but the actual physical meeting took place on the steps of this church.) I met some of V.S.'s new friends and enjoyed the service. This was my kind of church because it was pretty progressive (it has a fellowship group for gays, just to give you an idea), the priest who gave the sermon was down to earth and funny, and the message seemed to focus more on helping others than on hell or every other religion being wrong. I felt good there.
My goal when I got back "home" was to start going to different churches to see what I like here. Then, the earthquake in Haiti struck, and bang! I lost all desire. Why would I want to go worship this Dude? I thought to myself.
Some religious folks out there will cry out, "That's not fair!"" but the fact of the matter is that an omnipotent God who cares about humanity could prevent earthquakes and other natural disasters from taking us out. S/he could. S/he didn't.
Sorry, just being honest.
I was watching a DVD of Bill Maher's stand-up the other week (love him) and he talked about those right-wing Christians like Pat Robertson who say that 9/11 was God's vengeance or He let it happen or whatever. (You know, the same guy who is saying Haiti was struck by this earthquake because they made a pact with the devil. That guy.) I usually just write these people off as insane, but Bill's point on it hit home. He said, "Oh, I get it guys, God is a prick! Thanks for clearing that up." Am I saying that God is a prick? No. But can you at least see the logic? Isn't it hard to deny that a God who caused it or "let it happen" because of gays or abortion or whatever is, um, a less than desirable deity to wake up early on Sundays for?
I'm not big on calling people names, let alone God, so please don't misunderstand me. I am not repeating the Bill Mahr quote. I'm just saying the man has a point, that a God who would stand by at times like these makes you wonder about His character. It's like the last episode of Seinfeld. Would you stand by and watch someone being abused, murdered, etc. - adults, children, babies alike - if you could just step in and stop it? Well, then, you're a... never mind.
One final point: I spent a lot of time in the fundamentalist Christian paradigm and I know the drill. If I was asking why God allowed someone to, say, get shot and killed by another person, the answer would be, "The gunman has free will." But how, my friends, do you answer for an earthquake?