Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Visit From a Man in Black and his Daughter


A tall black man and his daughter knocked on my door today. He was dressed in a black suit coat and his daughter wore black also. His eyes were pained, hooded. The sun was bright and low in the sky behind him. He had a Bible in hand and asked me if I thought about the events in Haiti. I said I did. I wanted to tell him how much I thought Pat Robertson sucked, but didn't know if I was in the mood for a lengthy discussion. I knew he wasn't. He quoted verses from the Old Testament about the oppressed and God's mercy and then handed me the Jehovah's magazine before walking back down the porch steps and getting back in the green mini-van. I've always enjoyed talking to Witnesses. I know some people can't stand them, but I don't know why. We should be able to talk openly and freely with our neighbors about religious opinions but often don't because, well because it's just awkward. But this man wasn't in the mood for talking. The Haiti earthquake is just too much raw material for any of us. And what can anyone say at a time like this? Even the Bible's platitudes do little to soothe. The range and extent of the suffering, the immediacy of so much death and destruction, the uncanny unfairness of it, is of yes, Biblical proportions. But words that talk about the inscrutable logic of the Universe don't help explain the inexplicable. And assigning a supernatural cause to tragedy lets in the unspeakable evil smugness of a Pat Robertson blaming the victims. If the representative of a religion started by a man claiming allegiance to the poor and disenfranchised can't bring himself to empathize with the victims of an earthquake, then he might as well get out of the way. The great Moral Majority has vomited up its arrogance on us once again.

(photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP via TampaBayBlogs slideshow. A cross stands intact in front of a church that collapsed during Tuesday's earthquake at the Canape Vert neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010.)
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