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June 25, 2010

Black Rain and the Wrath of God: a call to think and feel

By Stefan Thiesen

What does the Oil Disaster in the Mexican Gulf mean in a christian religious context? A challenge.


I am an Earth and space scientist who professionally mainly grew up at a cosmologically oriented institute. As such I am not religious in the classical sense, although perhaps somewhat spiritual when I calmly look out into the limitless abyss that this universe is. Nevertheless I acknowledge the value of religion, the importance of religion as a cultural canvas and a structure helping people to hold on to their sanity in a world growing ever more complex
I see the biblical proportions of the Oil disaster in the Mexican Gulf - a disaster of cosmic irony hitting some of the allegedly most religiously conservative regions of the United States. When I look at many of the world religions, the explanations well could be found in terms of "wrath of god" or something like karmic resonance. If we look at the most prevalent religion in the Southern states - Christianity - People should ask themselves a few questions. As a former Christian who grew up with a Catholic background, I do remember the entirely uncompromising tone of the ten commandments. The third, fourth and fifth commandments of Judeo-Christian tradition thunder:

3 Do not have any other gods before me.

4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me.

Most people of the southern US claim to be Christian, but they have long allowed another God to take control. That God is akin to the old Mammon, money, wealth, profit, self interest - the economic apparatus has become the centre of the lifestyle. Yet another such iconic idol is the American Nation with its self proclaimed blessed, oil gobbling lifestyle, and a former president using religious rhetoric to justify mass murder for his own and his peers financial and ideological interests. America calls itself Gods own country, which is problematic, because many other countries claim the same.

As a trained space scientist, I have a vague idea about the size of the universe, and it seems highly irrational to me to believe that - if a creator of the entire universe existed - he would endorse one country on a little dustball orbiting a totally average little sun in one of the many millions of Galaxies. But if that were so, and if he would be the jealous and punishing God as expressed in the 5th commandment, something like oil raining down on the Southern states and slowly killing of his failing followers over several generations were to be expected. And even now, economic arguments prevail. Even now in the face of a dying sea and a season of oil-rain hurricanes ahead profit interests, the ghost called "the economy" and employment are used as arguments to continue down the same road to nowhere as before. For most Christians their life is more determined by their bank account than by the bible, the buck is the true Lord, and not the friendly wise man who preached peace and forgiveness two millennia ago.

Two years ago my daughter Sophie Maris (her name means wisdom of the sea), who does attend a catholic Kindergarten, illustrated the Genesis story of creation, which is powerful and meaningful prose. Day five is what the offshore industry is trampling upon.

Sophie Maris (then 4) illustrated the biblical story of creation

Those who do not believe in science and evolution and those who do not believe in an inherent value of all living beings - them I ask to at least be true to their own religion. Think about these words: "I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me." Let these words sink in, and then have a look at your children and the other children of this small, blue bubble of life in the velvety black vastness of lifeless nothingness. Think! And feel! It is almost too late.

Submitters Website: http://thiesen.webnode.com/

Submitters Bio:

Stefan Thiesen is a Germany, UK and USA educated earth and space scientist and science writer. He is an expert in marine science, climatology and planetary sciences, author of several popular science books in German and English as well as a novel and numerous short pieces. During the last years his professional work focused on solar energy and solar energy based water desalination and treatment solutions with projects in Europe, Africa and Asia. One of his Water Projects was a finalist in the World Bank Development Marketplace Competition of 2006. Since summer 2006 Stefan works for the development dept. of a leading European solar energy company. Other fields of interest include marine protected areas and traditional land and ocean management. He was invited speaker on international conferences, including EU and NATO advanced research workshops. Stefan lives on an ancient farm in Westfalia/Germany together with his wife Yvette, three daughters Sophie Maris (meaning "Wisdom of the Sea"), Liv Moana (meaning "Sea Life") and Stella Marina (Meaning Star of the Sea) as well as their dog Amie.