The Great Quake of 2011

“The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it” – Nahum 1:5

Late last week an 8.9 magnitude quake hit just off the eastern Japanese seaboard, sending a massive tsunami ashore causing significant destruction. The headlines are overtaken with tales of human tragedy and potential nuclear meltdown at the Sendai power plant. Prayers are certainly warranted.

Such tragedies often conjure up images in my head; parents moving with intentionality and desperation to get their children to safety. It’s a dream, a vapor, a wondering – will we find ourselves in similar straits at some point?


There have been, as expected, some interesting relations of a more-or-less religious nature. First, there were the global warmists:

In a story here, Dr. Kevin McCue of the Australian Seismological Centre considers the possibility of a large aftershock, generally down one order of magnitude (7.9 in this case – quite big).Toward the end of the article we have this note: “Dr McCue dismissed suggestions that melting glaciers due to global warming could escalate the earthquake risk.” I’ve often said that global warmism is quite religious affair. As with many religions, the global warmists cast natural disasters in the light of their religious convictions – global warming bad, must be the cause of these tragedies.

Dr. Gary Gibson of the University of Melbourne adds “There is more variation than you would expect from a random occurrence of earthquakes, and we really don’t have a mechanism to describe why that is the case.” This is interesting indeed. I don’t have details of the randomness or variation from power-law distribution, but I would certainly be interested in understanding the variations. (To be honest, the discussion reminded me of Matthew 24:7-8, though only tangentially. I’m not a “this is a sign of the end” guy, not by any stretch. No, what was more interesting was to understand the variability of earthquake behavior … having been in the labor & delivery room for a number of births, I also have some understanding of the variability of labor pains – though it is only an intellectual understanding.)

But the grand prize for mildly religious commentary on the subject comes from WNBA guard Cappie Pondexter, who issued the following tweets:

“What if God was tired of the way they treated their own people in there own country! Idk guys he makes no mistakes” and “u just never knw! They did pearl harbor so u can’t expect anything less.”

First, let’s dispense with the obvious: text-speak like “Idk” and “u” and “knw” is stupid. Learn to type, darlin’. While you’re at it, consider that there are different meanings for “there” “their” and “they’re”. And Pearl Harbor? Honestly, it’s been 70 years. I mean, the Lord is patient and longsuffering – but none of these people caught by this disaster “did Pearl Harbor”.

As for the rest, let us first consider Luke 13:1-5: “There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.'”

That pretty much sums it up. I’d like to add that we, as finite beings, quite often get it wrong when we try to ascribe omniscient motives for judgment on top of events we see. We just get it wrong. I think of Job and his conversation with his friends, mirrored by God’s conversation with Satan at the same time. Job and his friends just did not understand what was going on behind the scenes, and what the causal relationships were.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly believe in prophecy (but you have to call it ahead of time!) and I believe in the judgment of God (the old testament is replete with examples where God afflicted His people to get the result He wanted). But that is very different monster than observing a natural disaster and later ascribing “well, what did you expect? God must’ve been out to get them; after all, they deserved it.” Luke 13:1-5 says otherwise.

God is sovereign. This earthquake did not catch Him by surprise. And yet, to hold that it is clear judgment against Japan is well beyond what any of us are able.

As for Miss Pondexter, I suspect she has since seen the error of her flippant remarks, apologized, and moved on … and so should we all. (Good luck with the rest of your season Cappie.)

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