Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Today on Kresta - March 16, 2011

Talking about the "things that matter most" on March 16

4:00 – Kresta Comments – God and Natural Disasters
Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti Earthquake, the Indonesia Tsunami, The Japan Tsunami. After all of these tragic events, the question is always raised; "Why does God allow natural disasters?” As we see in Deuteronomy, James and Numbers, God sometimes causes natural disasters as a judgment against sin. So is every natural disaster a punishment from God? Al has some answers to these questions being asked right now.

4:20 – The Nuclear Threat in Japan
The first American researcher to investigate the Chernobyl reactor meltdown on site, along with Russian and Ukrainian scientists in the years after that disaster, says what’s happening in Japan has not reached the magnitude of Chernobyl yet. Dr. Alexander Sich says the closer comparison is Three Mile Island. But he says he IS concerned about reported levels of radiation leaking from crippled reactors. Dr. Sich joins us.

4:40 – Kresta Comments – The US House Hearings on Muslim Radicalization in America and Rep. Keith Ellison’s Disingenuous Testimony
Last week Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) testified at a hearing on Islamic radicalism by weeping his way through a speech about whata-buncha-nasty-bigots Americans are. He chose as his case in point Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a Pakistani-born Muslim American who rushed to lower Manhattan on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, to assist in rescue efforts, and died in the collapse of the World Trade Center. Did his account check out with reality? We have the tape and the facts.

5:00 – The Power of the Sacraments
In her own inspiring style, Sr. Briege McKenna explores the marvelous ways God acts through the sacraments, and explains how nothing can substitute for the grace of receiving the grace of the sacraments. The book is entitled The Power of the Sacraments and Sr. Breige is here to discuss it.

5:20 – The Problem of Genesis
One of the most important principles of Catholic Biblical interpretation is that the reader of the Scriptural texts must be sensitive to the genre or literary type of the text with which he is dealing. Just as it would be counter-indicated to read Moby Dick as history or “The Waste Land” as social science, so it is silly to interpret, say, “The Song of Songs” as journalism or the Gospel of Matthew as a spy novel. By the same token, it is deeply problematic to read the opening chapters of Genesis as a scientific treatise. So why is it so common for people to struggle with the seemingly bad science that is on display in the opening chapters of the first book of the Bible? Fr. Robert Barron answers the question.

5:40 – Benedict's Creative Minority
Sam Gregg


  1. Re: God and Natural Disasters

    Al talked about people who have determined that God has brought judgment upon Japan.

    Al said: "I do believe God acts in history to bring blessing and cursing. Alright? But I don't know any way of judging what divine causation is for something like this. I know that I have a responsibility to major on God's love and reconciliation, and minor on His judgment."

    (I'll remind Kresta In The Afternoon listeners that Al didn't protest other assertions of divine interventions: the miracle fog that enabled George Washington to retreat across the East River (listen to the 2/5/10 Chris Stewart interview), Dave Mangan's miracle water pump, Joan Wester Anderson's life saving guardian angels.)

    Al thought it best to defer to what Jesus had to say about this stuff.

    Al first cites the story of the blind man in John 9:
    "You've got the story there of the man born blind, and the apostles come to Jesus and say to him, 'Hey, why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sin or because his parents sinned?' And Jesus says, 'Well look, he was born blind, not because of his parent's sin or of his own sin, but that the glory of God might be revealed in him. In other words, Jesus is saying at that point: 'You're asking the wrong question. Here's your opportunity to see the glory of God manifest by healing. And you're asking the question of who's judging who? Get busy here. Go about the work of healing.' "

    Then Al cites the beginning of Luke 13, where the disciples ask Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus says to them:
    "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them -- do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!"

  2. God and Natural Disasters (continued)

    Al finishes up his sermon:
    "You people are asking the wrong question. You're asking why this happened to the Japanese. You're asking why the tower fell on the heads of the people of Siloam. You ought to be asking the question: 'Since I've been spared, how ought I to behave? Why did God spare me? I should examine my conscience and repent, for I would likewise perish.' That's the question we ought to be asking ourselves. But in so much of this discussion we just locate our astonishment in the wrong place. We're astonished that disasters happen. We shouldn't be astonished that disasters happen, we should be astonished that kindness, peace, harmony occur as often as they do. And it should be an occasion for self-examination, repentance, and a call to mission and mercy."

    So, don't ask a question that makes God look bad. Only ask a question that will make God look good. Well, that's a fine example of theological relativism. Look at God and His creation through my eyes, not your own.

    What happens when you take off the rose colored glasses? If you've seen Christopher Hitchens on YouTube debating atheism, you might have seen him talk about the hundred thousand years or so of man's miserable existence before God finally made an appearance. Christopher mimics God -- he folds his arms and stands there with an I-don't-give-a-damn countenance on his face. That's the God you see when you aren't wearing rose colored glasses.

    "Why does God allow bad things to happen?"

    That's a perfectly good question to ask, and it deserves a direct and honest answer. But Al and Jesus dodge that question, and ask another one instead, because they can't handle the obvious answer to it -- which is that God is a sick, nasty jerk.

  3. Re: God and Natural Disasters

    I goofed. After some thought, I need to retract my statement accusing you of theological relativism.

    You are saying that there is one way to understand these disasters in relation to God. And that is this: disasters manifest God's glory, and those of us who have been spared must now get busy and do God's work. Anyone who disagrees with this understanding is wrong.

    That is an absolutist position, not a relativist one.

  4. Mauman,

    You are right, I am not a misotheist. I don't hate God. I am not cut from the same cloth as James Morrow, Rebecca West, Mark Twain, Elie Wiesel, or even Bernie Schweitzer. How a person can affirm God's existance and hate Him seems merely a halfway house to atheism. To borrow and image from Erasmus Darwin, "a featherbed to catch halfhearted atheists."


  5. Al,

    Thanks for the reply. I learned a new word and some new names.

    When I did a search on the word "misotheism," a Wikipedia entry came up first. When I read the Wikipedia article, I found a more interesting word: "dystheism." It may not be a universally recognized word -- my favorite dictionary, Merriam-Webster, doesn't have it. But the Wikipedia entry on misotheism defines dystheism as "the belief that a god is not wholly good, and is possibly evil."

    I wonder, Al. Do you really love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind? Or do you only say you do because He scares the s___ out of you?