Goodnight Irene

This morning I listened to Tom Ashbrook’s On Point, and the topic under consideration was whether or not the media was appropriate or inappropriate with regard to Hurricane Irene. “How does society find the right balance of safety and media hype in an age of extreme weather?”

It was a good guest line-up, with Heidi Cullen, the first on-air climate expert for The Weather Channel; Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University and the author of The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and The Quiet World: Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960; and Bill McKibben, co-founder of, who was standing, on the day of this writing, along with more than one hundred protesters outside the White House, risking arrest for their conviction that the Tar Sands pipeline is an egregious pathway to ecological disaster.

I have only called in to NPR’s talk shows one time, and that was to tell P. D. James (Phyllis Dorothy James White) how deeply I appreciate her Scotland Yard hero Adam Dalgliesh. And I was tongue-tied and felt kind of stupid!

So, I called in today, with some trepidation, because Tom Ashbrook can be more combative than my comfort zone embraces. The hour was up before I had a chance to speak, but fortunately, others had already said what I would have, and much more eloquently.

It was the wrong question. The better question, articulated so well by Douglas Brinkley, is this: “Why do the media focus on this particular disaster and not set it in its rightful context – climate change?” Why do the media focus on the particularity of the disaster and not ever speak about global warming?

It’s an egregious omission.

Every “natural disaster” weather report ought (a moral imperative) to set it in the context of climate change, and guess what – it doesn’t happen. For shame!

Here’s the second piece of my reflection (I feel I am justified because I am from New England – hit hard – and I am a clergy person) I have heard today, on NPR reporting, homeowners and business people along the eastern seaboard say – over and over – “Thank God we were spared,” which sounds innocuous enough until we think about the people and businesses who weren’t spared. There is a subtext here – which is why I am putting this in the category of God Talk – how exactly are the people who “weren’t spared” supposed to understand this?

God controls the weather?

God was pissed at me?

Did I do something wrong?

What did I do?

I am linking this post to the words of Michelle Bachman, because she is dangerous! And she’s not the only one!

I am connecting this as well to an oft said comment, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” I am asking all of us to think about the implications. At its best, it’s an admission that I am no “better” than anyone else. But do we ever think about the implication? What, exactly, are we saying? That the grace of God falls on me and not another? Is the grace of God falling on me more than my neighbor?

How do we awaken to the power of language and a skewed theology? How do we awaken to our unexamined thoughts?

Everything on this website points to that question, one way or another, and my deep desire is to use it as a vehicle for conversation – a vehicle for awakening. I want you to be talking to me!

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