Thursday, March 10, 2011

God defended New Zealand

Since God has nothing to do with the advent of earthquakes - or fires, floods, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis for that matter - I rather prefer the legal term "force majeure", which defines "an event that is a result of the elements of nature, as opposed to one caused by human behaviour." So after the latest Christchurch upheaval, I thank God that in a city of nearly 400,000 people, in which an earthquake struck at its busiest time of the day, the death toll is likely to be only about 200 and many square kilometres of the city are still standing and largely unaffected.

Compare that with the Lisbon (population 250,000) earthquake of 1755, in which 100,000 citizens died and six magnificent cathedrals were reduced to rubble, and the Kobe quake of 1995 in which 6700 people perished, and we surely have cause to be grateful. And to whom can we express gratitude, save to the creator and sustainer of the universe?
Oh Garth, what a splendid and flexible God is yours, one who is not responsible for Acts ascribed to him by the law, yet who saved a relatively high proportion of Christchurch's citizens from the example of such an Act which occurred on 22 February. Are we to learn from this deed of relative mercy that the New Zealander is favoured by God over His other creations, the Portuguese and the Japanese? Should we look into our hearts and ask ourselves what more we might do to improve our standing with Him, to reduce future death tolls to zero. Should we pray more, for verily we are praying above our weight on a world stage, yet might we not be praying enough?

Perhaps Thomas Babington Macaulay knew something of which we are only dimly aware when he wrote of London in the future ''and she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's.'' Yes, we win: in 1840 Macaulay prophesied that London would be in ruins but at least one New Zealander would be around to go there on his OE.

Artist's impression by Gustave Doré; I am grateful to Michael Higgins for advising me that this promo for Block of Wood by The Bats includes scenes of Christchurch as it was:


Hans Versluys said...

In Belgium and Holland, both with legal gay marriage and euthanasia and abortion, no people have died in earthquakes ever. Perhaps they have got it sussed with Big Daddy?

Psycho Milt said...

And to whom can we express gratitude...?

Apparently, not to the people who implemented and enforced building regulations mandating earthquake strengthening. Nor the people who put huge amounts of ingenuity and intellectual effort into developing methods of earthquake strengthening. That would just be ridiculous.

Weekend_Viking said...

Someone should ask Garth why his god apparently hates Haitians, then. Afterall, they got 200 thousand earthquake dead, _and_ cholera.

Spitfire said...

Magic collection of images, mate. The woodcut, the two videos, the song title pulling it all together.


Keep up the good work.

Keri H said...

Poor sod longer has alcohol to comfort him, so goes for - ur, god?
Which one? His wamblings are so sad.
Why doesnt he look at the Christchurch Art Gallery? Beautifully intact ( courtesy of architects and engineers) and housing, temporarily, the working administration of CD et al.
Humans do what humans can-

Samuel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Samuel said...

Garth's God be praised for His selective protection of some humans from disasters that an omnipotent god could have entirely prevented in the first place.

A key work of Gartheology shows that in line with good business principles, Garth's God will only intervene to ward off large-scale disasters by prior contractual arrangement - such as an agreement with Noah which protects Garth from the environmental consequences of climate change:

Like the best private health insurers, Garth's God will not do much where there are pre-existing tectonic conditions (in the world He created), but those who pay the price of millennia of fear and deference He shall protect in sudden crises, yea even those crises that are the fruits of their own greed and stupidity.

For who shall presume to know the mind of Garth's God? Yet He has spoken through the pie-encrusted moustache of His prophet.