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Arizona firefighter families: `Is God punishing us?'
Prescott, Arizona, welcomes home a procession of hearses of 19 firefighters after a 100-mile procession, returning the bodies of members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
July 9th, 2013
11:40 AM ET

Arizona firefighter families: `Is God punishing us?'

Opinion by John S. Dickerson, special to CNN

Prescott, Arizona (CNN) - If you stood next to one in a grocery store line, you could smell the smoke on his fire pants.

They were known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots, but to us they were sturdy, sweaty, smoke-stained neighbors, fathers, friends, husbands, sons and uncles.

They were the strong shoulders and backs who ran into danger to protect us. Just two weeks ago they ran toward the 200-footl flames of the Doce Fire northwest of Prescott, diverting it away from my neighborhood.

On June 30, while battling a fierce wildfire in Yarnell, 19 of these elite Prescott firefighters died. It was the deadliest day for firefighters since September 11, 2001, and it had a devastating effect on our small community.

I’m a pastor, and like many in Prescott, for me the past week has been a chaotic rush of emotion, effort and helplessness. I’ve focused on helping firefighters’ families from my own congregation and counseling others directly involved. I’m doing my best to help our community grieve and support the surviving families.

I went to my church office in Prescott on July 4 hoping for some quiet. I knew nobody would be there on a holiday afternoon. As I pulled into the empty parking lot, I realized that we hadn’t dropped our flag to half-staff. We’d been too busy trying to pick people up.

I set my briefcase on the concrete and made my way over to the flagpole. It was emotional to feel the raw, weathered rope threading between my hands. I watched the gigantic flag stoop lower and lower, until it found a posture befitting the broken heart of our community.

A kaleidoscope of memories rushed through my mind:

The eerie silence as families, firefighters, police, friends and pastors gathered at Mile High Middle School to learn the names of the 19 who perished.

The police officer who had the unimaginable job of knocking on the door of each young wife and fiancée to tell her that her man didn’t make it.

The lone surviving firefighter, Brendan McDonough, still smelling of smoke, anguished by grief, surrounded in a huddle of compassion in a middle school classroom.

The young wife, Stephanie Turbyfill, who came to me for prayer - moments after learning that her husband, Travis, was among the 19.

Chief Darrell Willis, who climbed the mountain in the dark and spent the night next to the deceased men, protecting them, being with them - demonstrating the undying loyalty of a true firefighter.

Jen Lucas, the wife whose husband would have been with the 19 had he not been hiking the Grand Canyon.

The community gathering of 6,000 Prescott folks, giving the grieving families standing ovations, love, words of affirmation and police escorts to protect them from prying reporters.

The 19 purple balloons we released into the heavens, acknowledging our heroes' departure from this life to the next.

In situations like these, we sometimes wonder, “If there’s a God who is good, then why do tragedies like this happen?”

I wondered that in December, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The thought returned on the night of July 2, when I stood before thousands of Prescott residents, attempting to comfort them .

I locked eyes with the families of the fallen firefighters. The shell-shocked young widows. The middle-aged moms who had cuddled and cared for these heroes as growing boys. The little boys and girls who don’t understand that they will never see their daddies again - at least not in this life.

It’s not comforting to me in moments like these to simply declare, “God is in control.” That might be comforting if you’re a spiritual giant or less touched by tragedy. But when you’re at the very center of the storm, it sure doesn’t feel like God is in control, or even watching.

“At times like this,” I told the families, “we might wonder: Is God mad at me? Did God do this because I did something wrong?” That’s a question some have asked me in private. It’s a question we all ask at some point in our lives. And it’s a question that I can answer for you, just as I did for those grieving in Prescott. “God is not mad at you, and He is not punishing you.”

For those of us who believe in a Creator God, Scripture says that He does not make or perpetrate evil. He is not the author of death, but of life. In the end, he will defeat evil and death. Until then, we live in a world infected with evil. The result is tornadoes, hurricanes and, in Prescott, lightning-ignited wildfires that destroy and kill.

When God saw us agonizing in the fallout of evil, He “so loved the world, that He sent His only son,” Jesus Christ, so that whoever believes in Him will be delivered out of the brokenness of this world.

It was Jesus, walking among us, who said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

He was referring to his death on the cross for us, but his words declare a universal truth: There is no greater love than to sacrifice your life. The people of Prescott will be forever loyal to these firefighters and their families because they laid down their lives for us.

Hotshot crews are taught to always keep one foot in “the black” (the area that has already burned) and another foot in “the green” (the unburnt forest).

Our community will always have one foot in the “black” of our grief. We will also, in time, have another foot in the “green,” the new life and healing that will follow. We will grieve, and we will rebuild.

John S. Dickerson is senior pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Prescott, Arizona, and author of the book,“The Great Evangelical Recession: 6 Factors that Will Crash the American Church…and How to Prepare.” The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Dickerson. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Arizona • Belief • Christianity • Church • Death • Faith • Opinion • Uncategorized

soundoff (513 Responses)
  1. Reality

    o WHERE WAS YOUR GOD(S) WHEN THE FOLLOWING TOOK PLACE:

    The Twenty Worst Things GOD'S CREATURES Have Done to Each Other:

    M. White, http://necrometrics.com/warstatz.htm#u (required reading)

    The Muslim Conquest of India

    "The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

    Rank …..Death Toll ..Cause …..Centuries……..(Religions/Groups involved)*

    1. 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")

    2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)

    3. 40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)

    4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)

    5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)

    6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)

    7. 20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)

    8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)

    9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C

    10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)

    11. 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)

    12. 15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)

    13. 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C

    14. 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C

    15. 10 million Xin Dynasty 1C

    16. 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)

    17. 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs. Christians)

    18. 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)

    19. 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)

    20. 7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

    July 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Reality asked WHERE WAS YOUR GOD(S) WHEN THE FOLLOWING TOOK PLACE:

      It could be that God has more than enough troubles taking care of all of His first born SONS!

      July 9, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmmm

      He lets a few die in the back of airplanes and in the wilds of Arizona, doesn't he? As a caretaker, he's pretty freaking incompetent!

      July 9, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  2. Larry

    Out of curiosity, why does Christianity feel the need to run in and promote itself in every disaster?

    July 9, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You mean like when Obama came to West Texas and said "We will be here for you in the long haul, after all the cameras leave." and then FEMA denied them any resources to rebuild?

      July 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Fluffy Kittens and Puppies Are Gosh Darned Adorable

      Because its supporters love the taste of blood.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Fluffy Kittens and Puppies Are Gosh Darned Adorable

      Bill, none of us really care much for the country of texas. They're always ranting about leaving the union. Well, have at it. The country of texas always claims it can sustain itself 100% without any outside funding. Enjoy! Good luck with that! And adios!

      July 9, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Joey

      Since Obama is Christian I guess that example will work Bill.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Sue Anne

      Because very few people gravitate towards Christianity when their lives are good. My question is, why would you choose something that you wouldn't see the need for when times are good, and you're thinking with a clear head?

      July 9, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      The president doesn't have as much power as he implies in his speeches (I mean all presidents). But the presidents are all Christians, so you've got to forgive them if you're a part of their cult.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      The answer is pretty simple:

      The Christian Church is a business, and every mention, every "god bless", "god willing", "thank god", "in god we trust", every TV spot, every article, and every hideous 40 foot high cross on churches and hilltops all across America, ultimately generates cash.

      July 16, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
  3. It just boggles the imagination

    "We live in a world infected with evil. The result is tornadoes, hurricanes and, in Prescott, lightning-ignited wildfires that destroy and kill"

    Tornadoes and hurricanes are the result of evil? Really? Wow, it just astounds me that humans can be so ignorant and backwards as to believe that!

    July 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Sue Anne

      Lots of contractors and building supplies companies are only just keeping afloat with the work that such disasters bring in. Are they "good" for those folks then? When one company drives a rival into bankruptcy, doesn't the winning company, and all it's employees, see that as a "good" thing? Often, good and evil are just two sides of the same event.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  4. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    I have no argument with Pastor D!ckinson's article. It is quite moving.

    But I have a question. What is the point of praying to a God that doesn't interfere with his creation – one that just lets the chaos and tragedy happen? Why is this non-action 'loving'?

    At least the Greeks believed that their Gods were spiteful and enjoyed toying with humans. That is a more logical theology.

    July 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      It would really be useless to pray to an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent being. Are you going to change his mind? Not likely.

      The only reason would be to worship a being that lets tragedies happen like we see every day. Not a being worth worshiping.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • fred

      Prayer is simply drawing close to God. The closer you become the greater the presence of God in you. At the closest point there is a union when your presence is one with God and that is the prayer which is always answered. This is point Jesus spoke of when He said ask anything in my name and it will be answered. The key words "in my name" means you are praying as Christ not your broken self.

      Non action is loving not because the fire fighters died but because God is with you. When I comfort another it is simply my close presence because words are often hollow in a tragedy. Lazarus was raised from the dead but don't forget he died shortly thereafter. Jesus raised Lazarus and did other miracles for specific reasons. Our comfort is in confidence that all things do work together for the good of those who believe because God loves us so much. We take comfort in the one who overcame the problems of this life.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Actually I take back my comment about not having an argument with this article.

      "Until then, we live in a world infected with evil. The result is tornadoes, hurricanes and, in Prescott, lightning-ignited wildfires that destroy and kill."

      Really, tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires are the result of "evil"? Nonsense. If you believe God created the world – they are God's creation too.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • fred

      Honey Bad
      The atheist embraces naturalism as the centerpiece of cold uncaring universe. You refuse to worship and reject God because of who you are not because of who God is. Naturalism is the way of materialism which is limited to the physical yet life is more than chemical stimuli on organic matter. We embrace the fullness of life not the emptiness of a cold accidental physical existence without meaning.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Joey

      If you need a god to give your life meaning then you must lead a pretty miserable life.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • fred

      GOPer
      God did not create evil. God created the heavens and the earth then filled them with all that is good. In the presence of God it's all good. Man chose to live outside this presence and God being all good made a way for man to return to that presence.
      Evil is the result of existence outside of God's presence. God did not create that it is the result of rejecting goodness. Evil is the opposite of good so when you reject good there is only one direction. The apple in the Garden was not Evil it was the desire and thoughts outside of Gods presence that resulted in sin. Outside of Gods presence the voice of the serpent resonates. As to the serpent some speculate that was the fallen angel Lucifer who once was the most beautiful of all beings. That bright morning star fell when rejecting God also.
      You reject God so you see only the natural and materialist not life which is why Christ came. Christ was the light of man in him was life eternal.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Who knows more about misery? Joey or the author of Ecclesiastes?

      July 9, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Not enough facts, Bill, but I'll try the faith method in this case, I guess: Ummm..... Joey. But oh, wait, I could use the same faith to say it was the author of Ecc. Oh nooooeeess!!!! I guess I'll stick with Joey, after all, the name "Joey" is a part of my culture and time period, so I'm more comfortable putting my faith in something I'm familiar with. I mean, how stupid is it for a person born in Saudia Arabia to be Muslim, huh??

      July 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • fred

      Joey
      You are confused as to what is life. Perhaps an epicurean existence is the illusion of life you believe in. Life is at it's richest when you love God and love your neighbor. Along the way you may just have a good bottle of wine but meaning purpose comes from loving God with all your heart. When you do that loving your neighbor just flows out of who you are.

      Certainly some people are born with a loving nature that just flows. I find it impossible to be such a person and reject God with the same breath. This is because that loving nature is an attribute of Christ.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @fred,

      in his article, Pastor D!ckinson said that tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires are the result of evil. This is balderdash – even for someone of faith.

      All these events are entirely natural phenomena. If you believe that God created the world, then God created tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires.

      Presumably evil caused the local firefighters to switch off the locomotive in Nantes, QC, leading to bleed-off of the air brakes on the oil tanker train and the subsequent inferno down the hill in Lac Megantic.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Joey

      Well Bill, in order to answer that we would have to know who wrote it, but alas, we don't.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Fluffy Kittens and Puppies Are Gosh Darned Adorable

      fred, it would appear that you have a skewed opinion. You will now be corrected.

      By your own admission, anything in god's presence is good. The bible states that god is everywhere. Please reference the following:
      Psalm 139:7-12
      Amos 9:2-3
      Jeremiah 23:23-24
      Genesis 28:15-16
      Deuteronomy 4:39
      Joshua 2:11

      Those scripture clearly outline the impossibility of being outside of imaginary god's presence. Was lucifer, the imaginary angel also in god's presence? How would he turn evil if in the presence of the imaginary god when you state that evil only exists outside of imaginary god's presence? If its presence exists everywhere, then what you claim is not possible.

      Also, you claim that imaginary god did not create evil. You are incorrect. As Colossians 1:16 states, and I quote:

      "For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him."

      Therefore, evil is also a construct of imaginary god. You have made an incorrect assertion based on your opinion which clearly stands outside of the collection of books from which you gather your "information."

      July 9, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • fred

      Cpt.
      "how stupid is it for a person born in Saudia Arabia to be Muslim, huh??"
      =>Just like Joey you do not grasp life eternal. God has made a way for any that wish it. Muslims are not rejected by God because of where they were born or what they believe. It is the soul which rejects the offer of salvation from God. There is no power which can stop a soul destined for eternal life from loving God. Loving God and loving your neighbor is the way Jesus referred and we are not held accountable for what we did not know or were not given. We are held accountable when we are offered eternal life and reject it.

      Evolution and quantum mechanics is not the reason a soul rejects God it is an excuse for self desire which is the opposite of life and given by God.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • fred

      GOPer
      "All these events are entirely natural phenomena"
      =>The pastor did not have the time for great detail of how our fallen existence came about. We are subject to natural phenomena because that is existence outside the presence of God. In the presence of God all things will be made new and the things of old will be washed away. If you are in Christ then all the things good or bad in our lifetime work for the good of those who believe. You are stuck in philosophical naturalism thinking life exists solely of natural phenomena. Life contains a physical and non physical component. Your complaint is that we are Caterpillars and life sucks on this tomato plant. There is a butterfly in the making which will experience freedom from its limited existence. Sorry if you do not like the Garden God made for you.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • G to the T

      Bill – Isaiah would seem to say something different:

      I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (AKJV)

      July 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      It's widely accepted that a Son of David, probably Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. Regardless of the author here's what Thoma Wolfe has to say about the book itself: I'm still looking for what he had to say about Joey and will post it once I find it:

      American novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote: "[O]f all I have ever seen or learned, that book seems to me the noblest, the wisest, and the most powerful expression of man’s life upon this earth — and also the highest flower of poetry, eloquence, and truth. I am not given to dogmatic judgments in the matter of literary creation, but if I had to make one I could say that Ecclesiastes is the greatest single piece of writing I have ever known, and the wisdom expressed in it the most lasting and profound."[3]

      July 9, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      G2T I'm not sure how your post relates to the thread.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Motorpickle

      HBDC, I've gotten some pretty good answers from God after praying. Your mileage may vary, and prayer for sure doesn't work if you don't follow the instructions... or what God wants.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • fred

      Fluffy Kittens and Puppies Are Gosh Darned Adorable
      Christ was in the presence of God yet suffered. Noah was in the presence of God yet was mocked by the wicked and had to go through the flood. God simply is and as such of course everything can be viewed as in Gods presence. The position of Adam, Noah and Christ is more than physical in Gods presence. When Adam, Noah and Jesus died their presence in God did not change only the physical attributes. That eternal essence is the image of God in man. God formed man out of dust (physical creation) then breathed life (eternal essence) into man.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @fred,

      I don't have a problem with the world as it is. It is a remarkable place.

      The notion of a loving omniscient and omnipotent God that created everything yet capriciously permits arbitrary death is an absurd construction.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Observer

      Noah's Ark is science fiction that not only violates all common sense and intelligence, it violates nearly all the laws of science.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Pete

      "Therefore, evil is also a construct of imaginary god. You have made an incorrect assertion based on your opinion which clearly stands outside of the collection of books from which you gather your "information.""

      Oh don't you know, fred has to step outside of xtianity to try and justify their god. Fred's god is all god's put together, fred doesn't adhere to just one version of religion, which is why his posts are so hysterical. Fred doesn't know the bible that well and goes against it's very teachings when trying to lump all religions into one. It's hysterical....oh and then wait till you see what this poster then does with science, it will have you laughing till your cheeks hurt.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Fluffy Kittens and Puppies Are Gosh Darned Adorable

      fred, you COMPLETELY avoided the problem. You didn't even tiptoe around it. It is obvious why you cannot and will not address it directly.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Smithsonian

      " Noah was in the presence of God yet was mocked by the wicked and had to go through the flood. "

      The stories found in the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1-12, such as the flood story, the record is quite different: the time period under consideration is much more ancient. The factual bases of the stories are hidden from our view archaeologically. The stories remain a part of folk traditions and were included in the Bible to illustrate and explain theological ideas such as: Where did humans come from. The Bible is primarily a book of religion, a guide to faith. it was not a book of history, poetry, economics, or science. It contains all sorts of literary genre, which are used to teach about the relationship between God and mankind. Even biblical history is edited history: events were chosen to illustrate the central theme of the Bible. The Biblical writers did not pretend they were giving a complete history; instead they constantly refer us to other sources for full historical details, sources such as "The Annals of the Kings of Judah" (or Israel).

      It is therefore not possible to try to "prove" the Bible by means of checking its historical or scientific accuracy. The only "proof" to which it can be subjected is this: Does it correctly portray the God-human relationship? In the best analysis, the Bible is a religious book, not an historical document.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Fluffy Kittens and Puppies Are Gosh Darned Adorable

      Agreed, Pete. I even gave him some help on the next page. He still took a thousand mile detour around the issue.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • fred

      Observer
      Again you demonstrate you do not know God or the Bible only the words contained in book. Noah's ark has nothing to do with physics, geology or hydrology. Tell me what language did the serpent use to deceive Adam and Eve?

      July 9, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Bill Deacon

      It's widely accepted that a Son of David, probably Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes.

      Widely accepted by whom? Citation please.

      Thomas Wolfe was a great author, and he had his opinions.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Observer

      fred,

      Actually think things through before commenting so you won't look so clueless.

      So a 600-year-old man (right!) built a ship big enough to hold MILLIONS of animals. Then he loaded months of food, bringing in dietary needs from all over the world. The animals apparently were "teleported(?)" in from all over the world in some kind of flying machines or maybe just flew through the air with air masks. Carnivores became vegetarians for months. No animals escaped or ate each other. Noah got instant knowledge of thousands of animals he had never seen. Noah's family fed and cleaned cages for millions of animals each day using some kind of magic pooper-scoopers to get the job done in time.

      Then, before the animals flew back home, Noah celebrated by eating some of them. With no plants or animals left on the earth, Noah went on a food-free diet for months until the plants and animals could replenish.

      lol. lol. Get serious. Do some thinking next time.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • Observer

      fred,

      "Tell me what language did the serpent use to deceive Adam and Eve?"

      Beats me. You tell me. You are the one who believes in unicorns and talking animals.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • fred

      GOPer
      Habakkuk 1:13 (NASB95)
      13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor.
      Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously?
      Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?

      =>God allows natural events and moral evil such as the Babylonians who were brutal to the Chosen Ones. All of this brought about a desirable result for those who were destined to be in the new heaven and new earth where God wipes away every tear.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Fluffy Kittens and Puppies Are Gosh Darned Adorable

      fred, just stop.

      god does not answer prayers. Even though the bible says that ANYTHING you ask for, you'll get. It doesn't say, "Anything you ask for, unless it's god's will." No. It says ANYTHING you ask for, you will receive.

      July 10, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • fred

      Fluffy
      I have not heard about the verse you address. The Bible is clear that God is sovereign and pray is answered according to His will. The verse you most likely refer to states that "if you ask in my name". The meaning is "if you ask in fullness of Christ" or " In Christ". Most of us are seldom in Christ or ask in the fullness of Christ. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit which actually assists in our pray (communication) with God.

      I will agree with you that the outward appearance is that prayer is not answered. One must keep in mind our existence is physical and spiritual. On the spiritual side believers see prayers answered and I have tracked these answers and we all see how wonderfully and consistently God has answered prayer. On the physical (material or naturalistic) side one cannot say if prayer was answered.

      Jesus even asked if there was any other way besides the pending crucifixion in prayer yet concluded "thy will be done" and it was so.

      July 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  5. Ghostriver Studios

    Reblogged this on Ghost River Studios Blog.

    July 9, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  6. Lionly Lamb

    How then could these "hot shot" firefighters have been saved from a gruesome death?

    With all our knowledge base in scouring the world over by satellites visioning could not we have created fire break lines long before a fire is potentially becoming born via lightning strikes? After all, we have the technical know how to see a forest fires' potential beginnings long beforehand. I place the shame on the hierarchy of the firefighting establishment for not making fire break line preparations before any inevitable fire comes to fruition.

    July 9, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • You are a nincompoop

      So you are saying that America should put in millions of miles of fire-break lines all over the country? Got a clue how expensive that would be, as well as destructive?

      Ever hear of wind? Know how often fires jump fire lines because of it?

      July 9, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • You are a nincompoop

      Hot Spot, not Hot Shot. Do you have any idea what you are talking about?

      July 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Lionly

      God would need to decree a much bigger IT budget to get that done, and humans are cheaper than good silicon.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Mandy

      You have no clue about fighting wildfires, or the effect wind plays into this. Be quiet, Lionly Lamb.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      I am not saying our countrymen fire fighters should put in "millions of miles of fire break lines. I am though stating that we have the technologies to figure out just where the potential for fires may be promulgated and the firefighters should build fire brakes in the specified areas view to be potentially a danger. Why wait for the inevitable and put Life in dangers path just because we don't want to be prepared by putting fire breaks in front of the possible fires potential?

      July 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Fluffy Kittens and Puppies Are Gosh Darned Adorable

      Fire is actually a necessity of nature. Read up on it, lamb. Reading is magical and you learn stuff.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Sue Anne

      Yet, had the winds changed and all these guys survived to tell the tale, then God would have been give credit for a "miracle".

      Bad outcome = God's not the cause.

      Good outcome = God's the cause.

      Where's the logic in that?

      July 9, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  7. Henry Plantagenet

    Every week the Jesus people pray to God to punish those who violate his will, and every week God burns down about a dozen American churches. Take the hint!

    July 9, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Probably more truth there than you know.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Probably no cause and effect relationship there at all.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmmmm

      I would love to hear you explain that comment, Bill. I need a good laugh.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      It was just an off hand remark hmm. I'm not making a case for God's wrath.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      That's a good excuse for your typical responses, here, Bill. Use it more often.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Sue Anne

      A dozen churches could burn down and God wouldn't be blamed, but if a mosque were to burn down in Mississippi, Then I think a few Christians would be giving him credit then, right?

      July 9, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Doobs

      Now we can do a study on whether churches that perform same sex marriages burn down at a higher rate than those that don't.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  8. THE SHORT ANSWER IS NO

    But, accourding to Exodus 12:12, god will punish the other gods.

    July 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • THE SHORT ANSWER IS NO

      I'd like to take this time to apologize for somehow accidentally slipping that "u" into the word "according." I am not entirely sure how this error occurred, but I am deeply remorseful this tragic mistake and will ensure that this horrific event is not repeated.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Webster

      Forgiven. The spelling/grammar/typo gods are quite easily appeased.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Forgiveness can only be achieved by sacrificing a goat (a Twix or Snickers can be substituted)to the great and powerful Google...

      July 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      You'll need to chant some magic spell to get out of spending an eternity in a lake of torturous fire because the grammar gods love you so much. Of course, nobody really knows the correct spell or the correct method of saying it or if it really works or if there even is such a grammar god lake of eternal fire, so have fun deciding on a method. I only say this because I care; grammar loves you.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  9. William Demuth

    Well Jesus was going to intervene, but then all the Moms from Sandy Hook would have been ticked off, not to mention those folks in the theater in Colorado, and six million or so European Jews, plus the cancer patients and the murder victims lobby would have given him hell!

    Jesus can't afford to get involved with the small people, I mean SHEESH what do you think he is, Our Savior?

    July 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      William Demuth,

      When Jesus was on earth the first time the religious rulers were looking for the messiah that would take King Davids throne, conquer all their enemies and take their promised land back, but alas that is for the second coming. The first was just to save them eternally from their sin. Flesh is flesh, spirit is spirit.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Do you understand how childishly moronic your response is?

      You Christians have been lying to each other about that for an eternity

      In case no one told you, Jesus isn't coming. In fact, he never even existed at all.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      William Demuth and Billie,
      .
      Spirituality is but a matter of one's opinionated mental vernaculars and the light that looms upon one's internal cellular chasms will ever be the rye's catcher. We all live in the endurance to know things and how we distil our envisioning ways is utmost an importance to one's beneficiaries. We all do love wanting to be known within the otherness of whose wisdoms dares ensue to be even if it is negatively profound or positively placed. I love the atheist for their unwavering stance even though they are proclaiming a godlessness, they have their civil rights as do the religious have their moralized rights.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Peter

      Robert Brown
      Where does it say that the messiah's role was to forgive sins in the OT?

      I'll save you the trouble if you want to cite Isaiah 53, remember that the "Suffering Servant" is clearly identified as the nation of Israel, not the Messiah.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  10. derp

    "Is God punishing us"

    No silly, he only punished gays and liberals.

    July 9, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Gay Liberal Firespotting Team

      Yep. He got us good.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  11. Knights Who Say...

    Chairman: Item six on the agenda, the Meaning of Life. Now Harry, you’ve had some thoughts on this.
    Harry: That’s right, yeah. I’ve had a team working on this over the past few weeks, and what we’ve come up with can be reduced to two fundamental concepts. One, people are not wearing enough hats. Two, matter is energy. In the Universe there are many energy fields which we cannot normally perceive. Some energies have a spiritual source which act upon a person’s soul. However, this soul does not exist ab initio as orthodox Christianity teaches; it has to be brought into existence by a process of guided self-observation. However, this is rarely achieved owing to man’s unique ability to be distracted from spiritual matters by everyday trivia.
    [Pause.]
    Max: What was that about hats?

    July 9, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • G to the T

      Bill Deacon – Sara, the theological problem of killing children is not what precipitates for them but what it does for the killer.

      PLEASE Bill, tell me I am misunderstanding and that you aren't more concerned about the killer than you are his victims?

      July 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • G to the T

      Woh... that got attached to the wrong comment...

      July 9, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  12. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Christian children in plane crashes, firefighters, wow, God is on quite the killing spree lately.

    July 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Alias

      Where did god promise a life on this planet without pain or suffering?
      This logic fails.
      People who believe in an eternal existance after this life should focus on the big prize. What is a few painful years here compaerd to not just 9,000,000,000,000 yeears of bliss, but an eternity?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmmm

      So your goal is selfish attainment of a prize? How noble and superior.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Observer

      Alias

      "Where did god promise a life on this planet without pain or suffering?"

      Yep, no such promises from the God who pretends he loves us.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Alias

      I'm not defending the christian religion.
      I'm just pointing out that you logic fails.
      This arguement is wrong.
      No matter how many times it gets posted it will never be any more valid than posting random bible quotes.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Where logic fails is in sending the children automatically to heaven with a free pass. This makes the best thing a mother could do for her children to kill them young. This makes the Sandy Hook killer a saver of souls, and yet this same religion condemns them. A religion which argues that the greatest crime of murdering children is bringing about their greatest hope for eternity has some serious problems.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Alias

      @saraswati
      There are numerous logic fails in the christian religion. I am not christian. I am not arguing in favor of any religion.
      That does not make every argument against the existence of the christian god a valid argument.
      Even if god allowed people to suffer and die, that doesn't prove he does not exist.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmmmm

      Actually, if Christian scripture claims that God will lead you through the valley of evil safely, or that everything you ask for in prayer will be given to you without fail, then indeed, it is valid.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Alias, I agree it doesn't disprove the existence of any god,but together with other premises it does disprove certain forms of the Christian god.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Sara, the theological problem of killing children is not what precipitates for them but what it does for the killer.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Really

      So god is only concerned with the perpetrator and not the victims? Interesting. He allows people to be victimized so that perpetrators have the free will to transgress? What a sick fuck god is.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Hello "Really"

      Sickness of physical ailments and emotional disparities dare moves the mentalities cunning ways toward wanton issues of decisive measuring innuendoes of measured consistencies of the morally complacent issues be they negative or even positive. I love The USA and all its people indifferently and with meager compassions. One's love for their country and its compassionate welfares toward others should ever be one's "measuring sticks".

      July 9, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Really

      Does mommy know you are on the computer again? I stopped reading that dung-pile of words in the first line.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Really, I don't know how you infer from my post that God is not concerned with victims.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  13. Christian Logic 101

    If the Christian lives: "It's a miracle! Praise God for saving his flock!"

    If the Christian dies: "God isn't responsible. Satan did it. The mortal world is just an illusion anyway."

    July 9, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  14. Basically

    Ah, look at the peace religion brings. Instead of realizing that these things just happen, that there are going to be times that wildfires will trap people, instead the survivors torment about why God would do this to them and loved ones.

    What they don't need is an additional level of torment, but that is what religion gives them.

    And of course the profoundly unsatisfying "they are in a better place now."

    July 9, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      The peace that religion brings?
      The Crusades
      The Spanish Inquisition
      The Holocaust
      9/11
      7/7 in England
      ALL of the "holy wars" , ethnic cleansing and so many other wars and destruction tied in with religion and you want to speak of the peace that religion brings?

      Seriously?????

      July 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Basically

      You might want to re-read my post.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Ahh...sarcasm doesn't come across in text form some times...my apologies.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  15. Russell

    Upwards of 15,000 to 20,000 children die each day in this world of starvation or other terrible diseases that are treatable. What's another 19 firefighters in Arizona? I mean, really, on the grand scale that is nothing. I know we Americans think we are the chosen ones and that the children of some third world country are not as important as our heros, and I'm not trying to downplay the anguish and grief of these families, but god is not there watching and accounting for the fall of each butterfly, or dog, or cat, or gasp... even human.

    Maybe someone should ask Mike Huckabee or Pat Robertson why this happened. They always seem to have a biblical answer to the infidels in the parts of this country that are unholy. Maybe they can shed some light on Arizona.

    July 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  16. Rev. Rick

    Quoting the pastor in the article, "For those of us who believe in a Creator God, Scripture says that He does not make or perpetrate evil. He is not the author of death, but of life. In the end, he will defeat evil and death. Until then, we live in a world infected with evil."

    So is your implication then, pastor, that these men died because "there is evil in the world?" By implication, are you saying that Satan caused these men to die? Even though you have just said that God does not make or perpetrate evil. Did God simply allow these men to die for a greater good? If so, what was that greater good here?

    No, God didn't allow them to die. Evil or "the Devil" didn't kill them. They simply found themselves in a situation from which there was no escape. It was life unfolding in the seemingly random way it unfolds at times.

    Don't mistake my challenge here. These men were indeed heroes, and I agree with Jesus' teaching – “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” They laid down their lives protecting their friends, their neighbors and people they didn't even know.

    My point is that "religion" doesn't always have all the answers. Tragedy strikes and we are left to pick up the pieces and move forward, supporting each other the best way we can. If your faith gives you comfort, then use it, but in some situations, no one, not God, nor ourselves are to blame.

    July 9, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Basically

      The all-powerful all-knowing guy who himself created evil is not responsible?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      You're saying God created evil? Tell me how you know this...

      July 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm

      Care to explain how the all-powerful being who existed alone prior to making everything did not create Satan and evil?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      @Hmmmmmm said, "explain how the all-powerful being who existed alone prior to making everything did not create Satan".

      I never said God created Satan or evil. Perhaps you could explain how / why he did?

      July 9, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmmmm

      Wow, Christians sure are weaselly. If God did not create Satan or evil, then he is not all-powerful, and he did not create the universe as stated.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Religion does provide an answer. It just doesn't answer the question some people ask. They want to know "Why did this happen?" That question cannot be answered by humans. The question religion answers is "What do we do now?" The answer is, we grieve, we bury the dead, we help the widow and orphan, we look for ways to go on living without our friends, we affirm life and the living.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      @ Hmmmmmm said, "Christians sure are weaselly. If God did not create Satan or evil, then he is not all-powerful...." Well, if he DID create Satan then is not all powerful either, because, at times, Satan seems to have more power over us than God Himself.

      Satan (the devil) is a myth. Evil is the lack of good, there is no need for a mythical devil to exist in order for evil to exist. Man seems to generate enough evil on his own without any outside help.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

      Satan is a myth? Interesting. There are scores of direct references to Satan in the Bible. That means the Bible is mythical. I agree.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      @ Hmmmmm – LOL! You shouldn't jump to convulsions. The Bible is not mythical, but it most certainly is not to be taken literally either.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

      "Jump to convulsions" – nice one.

      So the Bible is whatever you want it to be. It's your imagination. Yup, you got that right.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Translation of Rev. Rick
      The bible is not mythical, but everything in it is not to be taken literally, especially those parts that have been proven to be flat out wrong. As science disproves more of it, then those sections will not need to be taken literally either.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      The problem isn't that the bible contains both literal and figurative elements, but that it does not provide a method by which the reader can KNOW which portions are which. Because the bible does not provide a method to determine which parts are literal and which are figurative, then it falls to another power to determine which parts are which; thus, until science found the answer, it was perfectly reasonable for a bible believer to believe in Genesis LITERALLY.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Vern

      Does anyone know what actually caused this wildfire? The evil of this world could just be a careless smoker.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      The wildfire was started by lightning. A static electric discharge. No evidence that any god sent it.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Athy

      I thought god was in charge of weather, including lightning.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Rev. Rick

      @Hmmmmmmm. Sorry to post this twice, but the first time it didn't end up in the correct thread.

      @ Hmmmmmmm said, "So the Bible is whatever you want it to be. It's your imagination. Yup, you got that right."

      Well, Hmmmmmm, in a sense you are quite right. The problems is, religions, and more specifically, the denominations of some religions *tell* us how the Bible should be interpreted, and there can be no equivocations. Believe it their way, or suffer the consequences. I think much of humanity is rethinking this whole concept of *fixed* interpretation. Some, including me, don't believe that any particular denomination, nor any particular religion for that matter, has the full truth. This makes a lot of religions, especially fundamentalist religions, very uncomfortable! Earlier you accused Christians of being weaselly (?) It's unfortunate that you believe that because "Christianity" is so diverse that if you lump them all into a group of people who all believe exactly the same thing, or believe in the same identical theology, you have missed the mark entirely. By your comments, I suspect that you must be an atheist, or at minimum an agnostic, but in my experience there are many kinds of atheists – some are open to discussion regarding theology and the existence of God, others atheists.....not so much.

      @ Richard Cranium and @ Capt. Obvious – Thanks for your supportive comments. I am an ordained minister, but I do not claim to have all the answers and I am sus.picious of those who do make such a claim, but I am a seeker. Is the Bible mythical? Perhaps? Is it metaphysical? Probably. I find it much more productive to study a variety of faith traditions and take the best from each of them. Sometimes those traditions align. Sometimes they don't. However, I don't throw them all out simply because I don't agree with some tenants. Good advice is good advice, regardless of who provides it.

      July 10, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Imagine No Religion

      Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm said,"So the Bible is whatever you want it to be."

      Agreed! Hit it right on the head. Religion is a whore for the delusional.

      -–
      "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
      Now that I found out, I know I can cry." - John Lennon

      July 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  17. Joey

    Yes it is punishment, god started a wildfire, and he didn't want it put out.

    July 9, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  18. Roger that

    It's much easier to accept a tragedy like this when you realize there is no god. You can continue to worship the god that allowed the killing of Job's entire family to win a $2 bet with the devil, or you can accept the fact he isn't there. I certainly wouldn't worship a god with morals like that.

    July 9, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Roger that. Succinct.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Roger,

      You missed the whole point of the book of Job. Job believed he was righteous, he was full of pride. God allowed satan to sift him to humble him. Do you think an eternal God puts as much emphasis on this short physical life as we do? I’m not saying he doesn’t care. I’m saying his priority is our eternity.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Madtown

      God allowed......
      ---
      Don't you think you should preface your posts with an "I believe...", or "It's my opinion that..."? You make these statements as if they are fact. You, like every other human on the planet, have no idea how or why God acts, and you are in no position to make any statements of conclusion.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Peter

      Robert
      As I read it, Satan actually appears to be manipulating God into allowing him to torture Job, a righteous man who worshipped God with all his heart.

      Then, God gave Job everything back, and more, within his lifetime. How many Christians can honestly say that they lived through the worst that life had to offer only to rise to the top in wealth and happiness before dying? Saying that it's an analogy for the rewards of heaven doesn't work as there is no indication of any afterlife in Job's story. Did Job go to hell with everyone else after dying? If so, why wasn't this mentioned?

      July 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      The rooted baselines of civilizations commonwealths are mired in guilt and shamefulness issues that we randomly aspire and conspire to and forward with varied complacence and social commodities giving births to all our human frailties

      July 9, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  19. Alias

    This is not only a questionable time to call people's faith into question, but the suffering arguement is flawed.
    Firstly, if their religion gets them trough tis a little easier, I'm glad they have it.
    Next, suffering in the life is really meaningless if there is an eternal afterlife. It is like getting a vacination. The brief pain of an injection may prevent a disgusting disease, so people immunize their children. How many of you uinderstand how stupid it is to accuse parents of child abuse for allowing their children to get punctured with needles?

    July 9, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • ME II

      @Alias,
      " How many of you uinderstand how stupid it is to accuse parents of child abuse for allowing their children to get punctured with needles?"

      If the inoculation is for the Solanum Virus then, yes it is abuse.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Huebert

      Are you saying that any suffering in this life is meaningless? That the Holocaust was meaningless? that all the pain that you or anyone has ever felt is meaningless?

      How self centered can you be? This world is real and every event has meaning to someone even if it doesn't have any meaning to you.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Alias

      Yes Huebert,
      I said IF THERE IS AN AFTERLIFE then suffering in this life is meaningless, and that is exactly what I meant.
      The fact that I'm an athiest is not relevant here. What I'm pointing out is that the arguement being posted over and over about people's beliefs being wrong because their god allows suffering is not valid.
      If the Holocaust victoms are all in Heaven, then their suffering for a few years in this life is so miniscule by comparison that it does not matter.
      The actions of those involved matter a lot.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Roger that

      Huebert,

      Since suffering is meaningful to you, tell us why suffering is necessary.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • derp

      "Firstly, if their religion gets them trough tis a little easier, I'm glad they have it"

      The problem is that at times other than this, their religion allows them to think and do morally reprehensible things.

      July 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Alias, you've set up a fine straw man and I see you've enlisted a number of non-believers to advance the discussion. I recommend familiarizing yourself with some material on redemptive suffering as well as the works of Viktor Frankl who pioneered logotherapy techniques in the 1950's after surviving a Nazi concentration camp. He has a thing or two to say about suffering as do teh SAints.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Alias

      As Usual Bill Deacon is totally clueless about the concept of 'context'.
      I did not make any strawman arguements.
      My only point is that the people who keep suggesting that the christian god doesn't exist because these people suffered do not have a valid point.
      Your god is a myth, but pain and suffering of heros or innocents will not prove it.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      My point to you support by two sources, one the Catholic Church and two a highly esteemed school of psycho therapy is that suffering is not meaningless.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • Alias

      Okay Bill,
      Focus here, my point is that IF there is an afterlife as believed by the christians, then it does not matter if you suffer in this life. No amount of suffering here is meaningful compared to an eternal amount of bliss or suffering in a permanent state after this life ends.
      People are questioning te existance of te christina god because these people suffered, and I disagree with the logic they are employing.
      Where does the church disagree with that? And – is that the question your psychiatrists were addressing?

      July 9, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I know that is your point. I am telling you that that is not the position of major Christian religions or of modern psychotherapy. It is something you have created in your own philosophy in order to advance an argument about religion that is a convolution of your own ideas.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      an excerpt from "Catechism on Suffering" by St. John Vianney

      Whether we will or not, we must suffer. There are some who suffer like the good thief, and others like the bad thief. They both suffered equally. But one knew how to make his sufferings meritorious, he accepted them in the spirit of reparation, and turning towards Jesus crucified, he received from His mouth these beautiful words: "This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise. " The other, on the contrary, cried out, uttered imprecations and blasphemies, and expired in the most frightful despair. There are two ways of suffering - to suffer with love, and to suffer without love.

      Viktor Frankl reports that, being deprived of all human dignity in the camps, men found meaning and purpose not in their suffering of itself but in the dignity to which they met it.

      Friedrich Nietsche states: Man can endure any how, if he knows the why.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Peter

      Alias
      But what if religion is actually using tragedies like this as a way of embedding itself in people's lives, taking advantage of people when they are at their most vulnerable, and making them dependant upon it for the rest of their lives? Then religion would be no better than addictive drugs, correct?

      July 9, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • Alias

      @Bill
      I'm saying that a particular argument does not disprove the existance of god. If you dissagree, then you must be saying that this agruement proves god odes not exist.
      The psychiatrists you keep referring to are interested in this life, not the afterlife. Your point is out of context and completely useless. I have to question your intelligence because you need me to point that point to you.

      @Peter
      Yes, taking advantage of people is bad. If religion is doing that, then it is a very bad thing. Bad religion.
      Why are you asking me such questions when I am an athiest who just wants to point out a flaw in one specific arguement that seems to be getting posted way too many times?

      July 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I suppose it's your right to question my intelligence in general but I feel compelled to point out the second fallacy in your logic. When you state that If I disagree with your premise, which I've already stated is flawed, that I must then support the opposing view, you are committing a non sequitur. I would argue that no argument proves the non existence of God, but again, you are trying to use a construct built on the purpose of suffering that is not canonical and then trying to get people to accept that as a basis for disproving God and it's all a false argument. If you are what passes for smart, I think I'll pass.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Bill,
      " I would argue that no argument proves the non existence of God"

      I agree that one cannot disprove a god, but what were the arguments that convinced you that Vishnu, Amaterasu, Kumulipo, etc. are not the real god?

      July 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Peter

      Alias
      Why say that it's a good thing merely if it helps people "get through" something like this? Would you say the same thing about excessive alcohol, or drug use? Not everything that comforts is actually good for you in the long term, right?

      July 9, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Huebert

      Roger

      I never said that suffering is necessary.

      July 9, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  20. HotAirAce

    It's far easier to believe there are no gods, not even just one, than this crap:

    "For those of us who believe in a Creator God, Scripture says that He does not make or perpetrate evil. He is not the author of death, but of life. In the end, he will defeat evil and death. Until then, we live in a world infected with evil. The result is tornadoes, hurricanes and, in Prescott, lightning-ignited wildfires that destroy and kill."

    Science can fully explain tornadoes, hurricanes and lightening. There is not a shred of objective, independent, verifiable or factual evidence for any god, but what do people cling to – the crap they've been indoctrinated into since birth and that peer pressure keeps in place.

    July 9, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Isn't it odd that in the face of the inexplicable that people don't turn to science, they turn to God. You must be livid.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Bill Deacon

      Some people turn to a deity. Not everyone does.

      Some people turn to their cell phones to call for help or to organize rescue efforts. Others turn to machinery, gather first aid items, volunteer services, medical care, and aid distribution and evacuation centers. No god required. You must be livid.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Most people aren't that bright so "in the face of the inexplicable that people don't turn to science, they turn to God" doesn't surprise me at all...

      July 9, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Mandy

      Then God is the cause for all hurricanes and tornados, etc? How mean. To cause such suffering just so people turn to Him. Nice guy.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Lucifer, you bring up a good point. Someone asked be to deconstruct the arguments for atheism and I made one but you've provided another. Most atheist say they believe in the abilities of mankind rather than of God. Then you turn around and say most people are stupid. I guess I just can't abide a philosophy that puts it's faith in people they know are stupid.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      My name is not Lucifer, not that you know who/what Lucifer is... Way to twist what someone said into meaning something else... you must read the bible a lot...

      July 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Hi Hot Air,

      Could the reasoning of God no longer interfering with our celestially pragmatic civilizations are due because God and all of God's first born SONS all are living upon the atomized domains deeply inside of all mannerisms of celestially endorsed Life essences? In the atomic chasms of all celestial Life manifestations are of Godly domains and their husbandry techniques are now keeping them all from willfulness to interfere with our humanisms' ways. We are found free of Godly persecutions no matter our details to become a civilly moral constabulary of reasonable assets within judgmental hubris.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Billy D, what happened to those firefighters is explicable. What isn't explicable is dragging some unproven god(s) into the conversation and making it a good vs. evil argument, with the good (but not proven) god not being at all responsible.

      LL, your hypothesis might be possible, even if highly unlikely, if and only if you can prove the existence of your alleged but unproven god.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I agree Hot Air. I don't make the good versus evil argument in this regard. I'm sorry if I led you to believe I was. If I were to make an argument it would be that good and evil both exist. Sometimes we cannot tell one from the other. It is beneficial to recall that we are human, limited but that God is sovereign.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      LET, I know your name is whatever you decide for it to be at the moment.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      So, Billy D, you disagree with the charlatan that wrote this article and that I quoted?

      July 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I wouldn't call her a charlatan. I think she is making a judgment, driven by her perspective and emotional reaction that she may not really be capable of making.

      July 9, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      The author is a he.

      From MW, I think this fis all that preach religion as truth:

      "Definition of CHARLATAN

      1: quack
      2: one making usually showy pretenses to knowledge or ability : fraud, faker"

      I didn't actually expect you to answer honestly as that would break The Golden Rule of Religious Cults: Never argue in public with a fellow delusional lest you help our religion based house of cards collapse."

      July 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I see that the author is a man. You're free to call him a quack if you like. I'm sure he'll be concerned. I disagree with him theologically but not to the point of divisiveness.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Bill,

      "Most atheist say they believe in the abilities of mankind rather than of God. Then you [Hot Air?] turn around and say most people are stupid."

      Foolish people still have greater abilities than an non-existent god.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I generally don't call believers stupid and did not in this case. Mentally ill, delusional, liars, yes, but not stupid.

      July 9, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.