THE DISCERNMENT of the Almighty’s will in weather is a practice of such antiquity that one may consider it a founding art, and until the early 16th century our species’ principal mode of meteorology. Much of the Old Testament is dedicated to the routine business of parsing natural disaster, for the exclusive purpose of teasing out its esoteric grammar of retribution. At the professional apex of this undertaking one finds the prophets. The Book of Amos for instance may be termed weather-centric, organized as it is around cataclysm and opening with the following pronouncement: “The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa — what he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel.”
The habit of meteorological divination is again in the news as a result of Presidential-hopeful Michele Bachmann, who is reported to have said the following of Hurricane Irene before a Florida audience:
I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here? Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now.’
A retreat was attempted thereafter, Bachmann telling reporters, “My comments were not meant to be ones that were taken lightly. What I was saying in a humorous vein is there are things happening that politicians need to pay attention to. It isn’t everyday we have an earthquake in the United States.”
Earthquakes do happen every day in the United States, most of them too moderate to notice. As a matter of course, only the destructive ones in which there is death and misery are held forth as acts of God. Presumably the more death and misery, the more pointed God’s displeasure. Every time something apparently exceptional comes along, by way of weather, the fanatics take to the Internet. Within two minutes I was able to find a video explaining that Hurricane Irene was “coded” into the Torah, and on many other occasions I’ve found similar claims made by the more hysterical among the religious.
Thoroughly irrational, the God-did-it claim can not be, and never will be, put down by means of rational argument and evidence. One can only point out the self-serving, mean-spirited, and superstitious character of those who attempt this outmoded nonsense, fitting only for an age sunk in ignorance and animal fear. When in primitive times such emotional blackmail could be counted upon to achieve its desired ends, the wicked and depraved took full advantage. Now, the business has fallen to the third-rate political bumpkin and the shabby demagogue.
Ms. Bachmann claims her humour has been misconstrued. If only that were so, and that in fact the campaign itself had been a jest all the while. Then we could absorb the punchline and be done with her and her ridiculous and impossible campaign. The United States can not afford to wager its future on a fool who claims always to know the thoughts of God, which we are meant to believe consistently bear a Tea Party Conservative stamp. A nice convenience, that, as is the fiction that God himself told her to seek a higher office. This claim of hers can only mean, if one accepts its plain and unavoidable meaning, that her candidacy has the endorsement of the Almighty. So too her policies. Her God, in other words, is a line item fellow: always at her elbow, forever whispering into her ear and guiding her hand, as he has done with every fanatic since the beginning of time.