Tuesday, February 2, 2010

He Loves You, He Loves You Not

A story from Haiti last week prompted me to look through my list of never-published posts for a piece I wrote back in December, but had hesitated to post because it sounded so... negative or something.

But this story, which told of a young girl found in a collapsed building after 15 days, reminded me of my unused words from late last year. Her recovery was unexpected for sure, and a miracle, some say. I use that word "miracle," too, sometimes, but only in a generic way. Not as in "I believe God caused this to happen."

But the story went on to tell us that the girl's mother never doubted her daughter would be found. Why? Because she had been praying nonstop. Ignoring the fact that every other person with a missing child, sibling or parent has also been praying, to no avail. "I think she has a special God," her brother was quoted as saying.

This drives me crazy, and I just have to say so. Here's what I wrote back in December.
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What's wrong with these pictures?

An abducted girl is found safe on December 25, and some people call it a Christmas miracle (clearly, God intervened to save her):

Photo of curly-headed girl with headilne Police Hail 'Christmas Miracle' After Kidnapped Girl Is Rescued'

While a different abducted girl is found dead the same day:

Photo of a girl with headline Sheriff: Body of missing 11-year-old Maryland girl Sarah H. Foxwell found

Yet no one credits God with that outcome.

I wish people would stop making thoughtless comments about God's role in the outcome of everything from surviving a car accident to winning the lottery. Each positive God intervention implies a host of other God oversights or deliberate snubs resulting in injury, death or, at minimum, disappointed hopes.

Or, if I can't expect people in the extremity of this type of situation to think about what their words imply, can I at least urge the writers, reporters and editors to stop putting this myopic, offensive spin on the stories?
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Note: Here's an example of a story about the Haitian girl's rescue that didn't attribute it to God. Both of the photo/headline combinations above are from the Huffington Post, but I saw both stories treated similarly in my local daily papers.

4 comments:

susann said...

I too wondered about that "special god" who would allow the girl to be trapped in the first place. Or would cause the earthquake...

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Similarly, when a child dies a parent will often attribute some motive to God..."God wanted my baby with him," or "God wants me to speak out so this won't happen to other babies," etc. I understand the family trying to make sense of the situation, and I understanding using the quote. But like you I hate the way some of the media play up that part of the story...cue the violins and the bright lights shining down from the clouds.

elena said...

Glad you posted that – good and valid points about the way "God" is bantered around in the media, playing favorites. That feeds the mentality of dumb Pat Robertson-type commentary, proliferating thoughtlessly too. People are trying to find a way to talk about what they experience as miraculous: fair enough. But language tends to fail us, and the media lazily takes the "God" option in the examples you give.

Ms Sparrow said...

I agree that the word "miracles" is bandied about far too much. Every coincidence or fortunate happenstance is credited to having special attention from God who seems to be ignoring everyone else.
(Remember Kramer's Festivus celebration on "Seinfeld"? Everything that happens on Christmas is a Christmas Miracle!)