Thursday, July 21, 2011

A query for the faithful

   Life is strange to say the least. My last blog was questioning whether god was really watching over us until we landed on the game-board space labeled 'that's it for you!'
 I listen/watch/read at least some of the news every day. Today a story came over the radio. I was involved in putting down some bathroom tile at work so I didn't hear the whole story. "Searching waterfall for missing hikers" was what I did hear, this seemed a bit odd. what were the hikers doing ? Were they hiding in a waterfall? I continued my tile job......
  A bit later the story was repeated. Listening to the news so often, where most of the news is bad, I know calluses have formed on some of my brain cells. Often horrible stories are considered, then served with a deep sigh and a shake of the head, life goes on.
   This is what I heard today
 A group of friends are at Yosemite. The heavy snowfall has made for incredible run-off and waterfalls this season. The friends gather with no worries of school or work, those burdens cast off and replaced with summer freedom. As will sometimes happen when friends gather, a feeling of immortality runs alongside them. The friends see that some other vacationers have crossed over the barriers. A man and his 2 children are laughing and taking pictures in the fast moving water.  If a father and two kids can do it why not them? While laughing and posing for pictures, a girl slips on a rock and falls in the water," Her friend, grabs her hand, then he slips and falls in too. He reaches behind him and tries to grab something. A witness describes his eyes as wide and aware the circumstances are not in his favor. The pair do not find anything to stop them. Another of the friends goes to help the pair, he too is swept in by the uncaring water. The couple are holding each other as they go over the edge of the falls. A woman runs screaming along the shore as the 3rd immortal vacationer is also pushed over the 317 foot edge.
  Yosemite is quite busy this time of year and a large group of people who also thought they had left behind the most negative things about life watch as the scene plays out.
  After the accident one man was quoted as saying "Right as they went off the edge I grabbed the girl I was with, covered her eyes and called 911.The fear of death in a man's face as he is about to die is not something I've ever seen before and I don't want to see again. Not just that family was damaged, but all of us who had to watch those people die are damaged."

  I didn't make this story up the account I have given you is from the people who saw 3 friends,  Ramina Badal, 21, a nursing student at the University of San Francisco, Ninos Yacoub, 27, of Turlock (clinging to each other as they were carried over) and Hormiz David, 22, of Modesto, after reaching for them and slipping himself, swept over the edge.

  I have seen the comments from many people. Some reacting with anger at the irresponsible behavior. Some making the mandatory 'Darwin'  comment, something I have done many times myself.
 Something about this story got past the calluses in my brain. A wave of sadness washed over me as the scene played out in my head. Most likely because I had just been considering the fact that god isn't watching over us.
  The story of 3 friends who were swept away from the rest of their lives on a warm sunny summer afternoon won't have much effect on most of the people who hear it. But should it?
   I wonder if the people who justify the 317 foot fall by calling the friends stupid have ever been just as stupid under different circumstances....I wonder if the ones who chuckle as the name Darwin burts out of their mouth really have a good grasp on what 'survival of the fittest' really means. And I also wonder how many people who believe god is watching over them consider the fact god was watching over those people too.
  I'm going to send a link to this blog along to a few of the religious people I know and ask them to share whether a story like this has any effect on their faith.
I don't mean to put them on the spot but I would like to hear the process they use when something like this comes to their attention. I would invite any readers to do the same. 
  Put yourself in the same position as those people for a moment. Imagine traveling towards certain death clutching the person you love most 2 minutes after you were making faces at a camera so you could relive the memory again and again with a fond smile on your face. Or imagine watching your friends die as you do the same cold and alone. For anyone who believes in a creator who takes an active part in our lives how can this possibly have any divine purpose? Let's not forget the 175 or so people(including children I would assume) who got to watch, what about them?
  Will it be blamed on satan? Do we have to overlook the way those people must have felt as they were washed away and keep our faith even though the cold hard truth is we all will be washed over a waterfall of some type eventually, as god watches. Is the way this makes no sense if god is defined as the believer would have us believe something we should overlook completely? Or maybe the why is none of our damn business.
  Even as I type this the story is told again in the background and I hear the talking head say "A preacher who has close ties to the victims says he is praying for a quick recovery of their bodies"
  Then I hear a deep sigh as I shake my head.

UPDATE: As the details become more clear I have learned the 3 people who died  were at the park as part of a church group......... 


  1. Really good blog post.

    I agree with all of that emotional capture. The idea that our best laid plans, or thoughts of fanciful dreaming seem so vacant in light of what we don't know and in retrospect to what has happened that we never saw coming. There is however, no real honest way to make sense of all of these things if we subscribe to the idea that everything is random and not ordered and controlled.

    It may anger some to think that God taking the life of one of his creation is cruel, untimely or simply arrogant, but His ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts higher than our thoughts.

    If those 3 were Christians, then they are thankful they were taken because now they live in the absence of sin, and in the presence of God. The review of the fondest memory, nor the greatest human experience cannot compare to that joy. We should mourn with the family, who no longer will share their presence, but we have this too; that we can raise our gaze and know that God himself is in control and His purposes are the best of all possibilities. That's how I feel about it and that's how I'd encourage anyone seeking to make sense of this to feel about it. Otherwise, I don't see how you could. Just my thoughts.

  2. I have no idea if there is a god or not. I simply can't believe in's seems humans do a good enough job of doing bad things, they don't need outside help.

    I do believe what a friend once told me: God doesn't test us, he doesn't give us lessons. Bad things will happen because that is the world we live in. But faith in a higher power can help you through the rough spots.

    I think most people just can't get past a the idea of a god/devil that controls their lives. It's no different than sacrificing virgins to a volcano. I think there's a reason humans have gods and religion. Apparently we had them before we had cities, before agriculture. But most people don't want to use it as a tool to better themselves.

  3. @Joshua Barnes

    If your post is real then it saddens me how religious indoctrination has sacrificed your humanity. Being able to rationalise a tragic accident like this by saying"his thoughts are higher than our thoughts" sickens me. You have been brainwashed to think no matter what your god does, its justified. If a pedophile states that god told him to do it, does that make it ok? Joshua, you have sacrificed your dignity.