Jan 14, 2010


My husband used to travel a lot when he wrote for World Vision. He visited countries all over the world that are dealing with poverty--World Vision's mission is to help the poor with basic needs and education. Larry’s a pretty idealistic guy. But he said that Haiti was the only place he thought was beyond hope.  He could physically feel the oppression and despair. He couldn’t wait to leave. The official he interviewed encouraged him to do so as soon as possible. Do the interview and go straight to the airport.

Pat Robertson, who seems to have a knack for saying outrageous  things when camera is rolling, claimed Haiti’s earthquake was divine retribution for an oath its people made centuries ago.  A pact with the devil in exchange for freedom.  Robertson also blamed Katrina on debauchery committed in New Orleans, and the 9/11 attacks on “the sodomists.”  Which made me wonder if he thought there was a gay bar on top of the World Trade Center.

Don Miller wrote a terrific response to Robertson on his blog. Thank you Don, for the calming but firm words.  There's not much I can add to that.

Sara Miles, the leftist lesbian journalist-turned-leftist lesbian Christian humbly said of her detractors: “James Dobson has something to learn from me, and I have something to learn from James Dobson.”  There’s something for me to learn from Pat Roberson: be careful what you say.

At the root of Robertson's horrible pronouncement is a truth: what you say matters. Your words hold weight. They go out into the world and change it. And not just the world you can see but the one you cannot.  I do believe there is a realm we do not see, or choose to not see.  You don’t have to be a Pentecostal to believe it. You don’t have to be religious. It’s there in all the myths and stories we’ve passed down.  And it’s in the movies we love to watch: The Matrix, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the Narnia Chronicles. There is a greater reality.

And there is this reality right here, in what I see and do and what I say.  "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” For that reason I must stop before I use damning words against Pat Robertson, for his damning words against a country that uttered damning words.

The AA Twelve and Twelve discusses taking a personal moral inventory. You may slip past “thou shalt not kill,” thinking you’re clean because you haven’t murdered someone. But what about character assassination?  How many trail of dead have I left in the wake of my own words?  I’ve pissed off good people because of my sloppy words: things said in jest, things I wrote which others took the wrong way, things I said in the heat of the moment  ... Words that no manner of apology could shove back in my mouth. Words that went out into the world and changed it.

I won’t bother to castigate Pat Robertson.  I should pray for him. God bless you, Pat. Go home and get some sleep.

If there's a realm we don't see, and our words go out and change it, I wonder what kind of divine retribution is coming our way for our surfeit and self-satisfaction? Our moral rectitude? Why are we all not damned for every careless word we've said?  Think of all the oaths and pacts uttered on the football field or the mall or Wall Street or wherever.

A friend of mine was obsessed over the fact his great-grandfather had been in the masons.  They made weird oaths in the Masons. They did occult things and swore on their children’s graves.  My friend was convinced that those oaths uttered by his ancestor were responsible for the hardships he had in his life.  The thing is, only five minutes later my friend started trashed his brother.   He didn't see the connection.

Maybe Haiti is some spiritual vortex for bad juju. But there are plenty of innocent people in Haiti: people of faith, people who need help. People whom this country turned away when they rowed to our shores in hope of escape.  (When are we getting the divine payback for that?)  Or, maybe this earthquake was God’s providence. Maybe now the government will have no choice but to let outside help and organization come in and help.  Maybe this is a new beginning.

At least, maybe God is holding out that opportunity for us MAKE it a new beginning with what we SAY and DO. Forget ruminating over the spiritual realm. Get out into the physical realm that you DO see, and DO physical things that can physically change it. Do it now.  As Don mentioned in this blog, here’s the right response to Haiti; “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Here's a list of organizations to whom you can contribute.

Speaking of oaths, I wonder when we're going to be accountable for these?

by Billy Collins

Not only in church
and nightly by their bedsides
do young girls pray these days

Wherever they go,
prayer is woven into their talk
like a bright thread of awe

Even at the pedestrian mall
outbursts of praise
spring unbidden from their glossy lips.


Taking Heart said...

I was in quite a fit of pissy-ness after Pat's uncouth words... and though I'm not a big follower of Don M (even though I may have been perceived as a stalker once for some odd reason... ha ha)... Don's words knocked me down a notch. I was all ready to call the man (Pat, not Don) a tool and be done with him.

Instead, I prayed that God would reveal to me what it is I could DO. Unfortunately at this time I cannot travel to Haiti to provide medical treatment... which is what I'd like to do. But I did get in touch with a good friend who works in Haiti many times a year with her not for profit organization called HAPI. So I blogged about it... I DID something that I can do right now.

And... I'm going to keep looking for things to DO... instead of angry words I can say against a man that... to put it nicely in your words... needs to take hikeimeanvacation.

Much love!

Anonymous said...

you're so great. thanks for manifesting the big JC. it's important.

John Mark said...

thank you for this.

Paul Burgess said...

The problem with Pat Robertson is that for bible-believing Christians what he says sounds correct almost...repent less something worse happens to you.

Anonymous said...

Very well said. If we would focus more on doing, what a difference we would make, and a difference we DO make when we get out there and are the hands of Christ.

Thanks for posting..

Tomlinson-van Wunnik World said...

Oh, Susan, so beautifully put. When I was young I heard the saying "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me." Even as a child I knew that was wrong. Words can hurt, and do hurt. Thanks for reminding us to be careful of what we say -- and to be compassionate and loving in what we do.

Stephanie said...

Remember the Sunday School song "O Be Careful, Little Eyes?" (O be careful little eyes ... little ears ... little mouth... little hands ... little feet...)

When we get to the verse in my class, "O be careful little mouth, what you say, O be careful little mouth, what you say. For the Father up above is looking down in love. So be careful little mouth what you say," I always ask the children before we start ... "Now what's the hardest one?" What proceeds from the mouth defileth the man - not what goes in.

And I'm sorry to say it, but unless Mr. Robertson would like to be judged as a prophet, knowing the mind of God and interpreting the world as judgment or not, then he'd better be quiet. Prophets who goof get their world "rocked," so to speak. Shame on him.

Anonymous said...

I agree with others who have said let's pray for Haiti and do what we can. The Haitians are real people - some of which know Jesus, most of which do not, but are in desperate need none the less.

Unfortunately, there may be some truth to Pat's words, whether they were appropriate or not. I personally wish he hadn't said that on national tv. Makes us all look judgmental. But we have to look at what was behind his comment, and not just be offended at his words.

Sometimes the church doesn't understand the difference between Levitical Law and spiritual law. Spiritual law says you reap what you sow. Kinda like gravity. Some people discover the law of gravity the hard way. Some people also discover the law of sowing and reaping the hard way. I know I have - ignorance of God's word has gotten me in trouble quite a few times. Even though Jesus is my savior, I still suffer consequences for my sins sometimes. And I had to ask for Jesus to forgive my sin to be able to become His.

I have a heart of compassion for every nation, but what happens when your government leaders "sow" choosing Voo Doo as your national religion? Do you not reap something? If we choose to worship our common enemy by obeying him rather than God, then we will find that satan doesn't take very good care of us. Please understand that my words here are not to judge Haiti, but to help us understand the "if's" and "then's" of scripture.

I don't know the cause of this earthquake, if it's got a spiritual side, but the Bible does say that these things will happen in the last days and it will be "the beginning of birth pangs". I believe we will come to see similar events in our own country. America has certainly "sown" much sinful behavior. Our prayers make a difference for Haiti as well as our own country. I am praying for Haiti's president and our president to come to know Jesus as Lord of their lives.

May the Church become the Bride that Jesus intended her to be - a beautiful display of love for others, a heart that is fully given over to God, and a knowledge of His Word.

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