Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Tsunamis and Divine Revelation/Presence

I find Susan's posts on the Buddhist perspective on disasters to be appealing, but isn't there considerable tension between that perspective and the Catholic tradition, at least as that tradition discerns and articulates the natural law? I would love to say that the tsunamis just "are," or that tsunamis show us nothing about God, but isn't that a bit self-serving if we also claim that nature reveals qualities of God to all who are willing to look? If, for example, we can learn about God's creative genius by studying DNA, or can discover God's intentions for sex through the physical differentiation of the genders, can we suddenly call off the inquiry when it comes to tsunamis? If the "heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands," (Psalm 119) aren't tsunamis part of the divine declaration?

I don't claim to know what that declaration might be. For my own faith journey, the problem of tsunamis is not overcome by figuring them out, but by focusing on the Emmanuel ("God is with us") of this Christmas season. If not for my belief in the Incarnation, I'd likely be some sort of deist, believing in a distant God, a non-intervening, non-caring creative force who started things rolling and then moved on. But the Incarnation changes everything. By way of clumsy analogy, if I was living in an apartment with no heat, no electricity, and no plumbing, I'd bear some righteous anger toward the landlord. But what if the landlord moved in with me, subjecting himself to the same conditions? It certainly wouldn't take away my questions about the apartment's failings, but it would change my righteous anger into something else entirely.



Vischer, Rob | Permalink

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