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Chaos and Disorder

In the autumn of 1987 the south of England was struck by the remains of a tropical storm which had crossed the Atlantic Ocean from the Carribean. In this there was nothing unusual; England is used to heavy autumn showers which are the feeble remnants of Carribean hurricanes. However, on this occasion, these were not the feeble vestiges of a hurricane. Having crossed the Atlantic, the hurricane had remained a hurricane. Devastation occurred, woodlands flattened, houses destroyed – fortunately, there were relatively few human victims.

Now, however, America mourns the thousands of victims of an incomparably greater catastrophe, in which a huge area of what is, admittedly, a vast country, has been devastated by a hurricane. The world looks on as the world’s only Superpower is brought low. Parts of the richest country in the world are reduced to the nightmare state of apocalyptic anarchy. The most organized country in the world is utterly disorganized in the face of natural catastrophe. As ever, it is the underclass of the weakest, the poorest and, sometimes, the most innocent in society, those at the bottom of the social pile, who suffer the most. A hurricane causes chaos though wind and water in a natural disaster; man causes disorder through violence and looting in an artificial disaster.

Some believe that this has happened because of the U.S. government’s refusal to respect God’s Creation, to take action to stop climate change – if that is possible. Others point out that the destruction is less than the destruction that has taken place in Iraq since 2003. Indeed, only this week some 1,000 Iraqis died in a stampede which, presumably, would never have taken place, had Iraq not been invaded. The total number of victims there is said to be over 100,000 and now a full-scale civil war looms in that unhappy land. Some mean political commentators even gloat at the present disaster, citing the words of the proverb: ‘He who sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind’.

Regardless of such human judgements, be they right or wrong, why do such natural disasters occur?

Not because God desires them, He only allows them because He gives us freedom to choose. Thus, when people choose to desert and reject God, they no longer live beneath His protection and they fall victim to the demons. With reason, the pagan peoples of the ancient world used to describe such rule of demons as chaos. And as regards disorder, this is the fruit of lives which do not recognize the order of Divine laws and commandments and therefore permit violence and looting.

There is a Biblical saying which asserts that pride goes before the fall. It can therefore be said that the fall follows pride. Let the American government know that it too depends on the grace of God; a Superpower is nothing before the power of God. Before the USA, there were other great nations and Empires, the Chinese, the Persian, the Greek, the Roman, the French, the British, and they all went the same way. Here today, gone tomorrow. If God allows it, the greatest nations and Empires are in an instant swept away in a breath of wind.

How then is the United States to avert another such catastrophe? Flood defences, weather satellites, computer predictions, radar – such manmade devices will only help, but they will not avert such a catastrophe. To avoid a repetition of another such natural disaster, there is only one way, and that is humility and repentance.

And in case there should be some foolish and heartless people who, out of personal prejudice and malice, do not wish to help the unfortunate, preferring to gloat at American misfortune, let the sobering words of the Gospel be said: Think ye that they were sinners above all men…I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish (Luke 13, 4-5).

Fr Andrew

The Holy Prophet Samuel
20 August/ 2 September 2005

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