Damage from the Oklahoma Tornado

Prayers for Oklahoma

A few weeks ago, in the face of a blatant and bigoted assault, I wrote of resurrection and triumph. Since then, I’ve learned that the most difficult moments to live the Christian life are not when faced with such open hostility. Indeed, when the entire weight of the world sets itself against some truth in a boisterous fit is often when your faith seems strongest. There is something about staring blatant evil in its face that strengthens your resolve. It’s easy to be heroic in open battle beneath the walls of Troy. It’s when we face death alone at sea that even the greatest of heroes cry out in fear and grief.

The hardest moments to truly be a Christian don’t come when the entire world is bearing down you. Instead, the most difficult moments to maintain the attitude and hope of the Christian are those still and quiet moments of tragedy that seem to be completely devoid of all joy and all hope. We all experience such moments. I’ve had them driving through my town that was devastated by a hurricane. No electricity or television. No bustling in the streets. Only silence. It’s the same feeling that comes when you stand over the grave of a loved one and the rest of the world around you seems to just cancel out for a few moments.

I can’t begin to imagine the pain that the families of Moore, Oklahoma have had to endure the past few days. Thus far at least seven of the deceased are children, many of whom were in their school-building which lay directly in the tornado’s path. Several more are missing still missing in the rubble.

Most have never experienced the type of devastation that is witnessed on the news reports from Oklahoma. I’m sure the photographs don’t do the depth of the tragedy justice. The sense that you can’t relate to the pain makes any attempt at words seem futile.

This is in a sense true. There are no words. While grieving the passing of his wife, C.S. Lewis implored his friends to “Talk about the truth of religion…. Talk about the duty of religion…. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t really understand.”

I don’t know if there is anything I could possibly say to comfort the families in Oklahoma who are dealing with tragedy, but I know that merely quoting some Scripture and explaining the Sovereignty of God won’t do the trick. It’s certainly important to remember, but to borrow another analogy from Lewis, remembering the good intentions of the dentist doesn’t lessen the pain of the drilling.

For now, it is sufficient to give if you can, and to pray. The people of Oklahoma and the many volunteers working to help them deserve all the support they can get. They represent what is best in America. Dozens of private organizations and hundreds of emergency workers have already responded to the tragedy and answered the call to help their neighbors. Entire communities were wiped out in a matter of minutes, but the solidarity that Americans feel in the wake of such tragedies is what makes this country great. No words can top the miracle that we have witnessed as fellow citizens rushed to aid those in need.

A few weeks ago it seemed easy to write with confidence of great and unchangeable truths. Today the task is much more difficult. Not because they seem less real, but because the noise is gone. There is no battle, no arguments, and no yelling or righteous indignation. There is only silence, the unbearable weight of pain, and the sheer inability of any human words to effectively offer consolation.

I last wrote of the Resurrection and the Life. It seems fitting here to remember that He is also the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief.

Those affected by the tornado in Oklahoma are in our constant prayers and thoughts.

MillerBLong

Brian Miller | George Mason University College of Law | @BrianKenMiller

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4 Responses

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  1. Mark
    May 29, 2013 - 08:44 AM

    Brian:

    Nice, heartfelt work.

    Ceecee:

    Don’t try to make everything about politics. You could say that Katrina relief happened because the House/Senate/WH were all held by Republicans in 2005. In 2012 only the House was held by Republicans. Were the Democrats the obstructionists?

    Reply
  2. Ceecee
    May 26, 2013 - 11:16 AM

    Do you agree with Senator Tom Coburn that funds for Disaster Relief for the victims of the tornado needs to be offset by budget cuts? Remember, it took Congress 91 days to vote for Hurricane Sandy Relief, while residents of New York and New Jersey lived in damaged homes without power or heat in freezing winter conditions? By contrast, a vote for Disaster Relief for Hurricane Katrina victims took only 3 days.

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  3. Christopher Rushlau
    May 22, 2013 - 06:56 PM

    I hope you have time in law school to read barrister John Mortimer’s Horace Rumpole stories, especially those that feature “soapy Sam” Ballard, whom Rumpole often, in error, refers to as “Bollard”. Ballard is his head of chambers and a notable Christian. A bollard is a huge stubby cylinder of steel on a quayside you tie an oceanliner up to.
    Now that I’m relaxed, let’s talk about law and Christianity. For me, the fundamental legal principle is, people aren’t stupid. By contrast, perhaps the fundamental jurisprudential principle is that God is not stupid. Not only do things not wink out of existence when you shut your eyes–just because you shut your eyes–although it is a common belief that if you shut your eyes you become invisible–God makes clear and enforces a standard of conduct of excruciating (that’s a pun on the crucifixion) exactitude. As Ben Franklin said, things are not wrong because they’re forbidden, they’re forbidden because they’re wrong. You never win fighting the universe. That’s basic deism, I guess. What does Christianity add to it, aside from hypocrisy if you’re so moved? Conscience is an odd thing. The more you know something, the more you turn out to be lying to yourself. I have sort of a general rule: you try your best over and over, and each time it goes down in flames, and then the finished product drops in your lap exactly as you’d have wished it if you’d known what to wish for. “The moral life” is almost synonymous with hypocrisy. So I’m focusing on, “If you try to save your life you will lose it, and if you lose your life for my sake, you will save it.” That has the ring of an original, unedited proverb. If you spare a thought for yourself, you’re already dead.
    My law school mentor accepted my writing project on condition, in some fun, that I not claim it had been a defense of sincerity. I will say that any legal process works to the extent people are sincere and that everybody monitors this process, in and out of the crucible. That is, everybody knows exactly how sincere each participant was, exactly how that degree of sincerity tainted the outcome, and exactly what the exercise has left for the next round of competitors to start with.
    “Logein” in Greek means to pick up what is strewn before you, to arrange, hence, to infer. (This is in harmony with “mythein” meaning to utter, so that you get logos and mythos as the word heard and the word spoken.) Everybody, including you, notices when you misfile something. Law is merely the assemblage of all these filings and misfilings. So a given legal process can be entirely corrupt or entirely pure. God can draw straight lines with curves, as it is said: you can utter truth using the lies that a corrupt system presents you with, and vice versa.
    Christianity is the idea that this is not merely a matter of bean-counting, but that, rather, you stand in God’s shoes at every moment of your life, and yet at the end you will be left shouting, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” which is to say, if we are to be creative in God’s image, we must accept the solitude and the power with which creation is done. If “God doesn’t make junk,” we each get the chance to see how we do as Creator. That’s not neurosis or hyper-scrupulosity. It’s fact. It’s every day’s experience. It’s how you remove the board from your own eye so that you make remove the mote of dust from your neighbor’s eye.
    I find your distinction of criminal victimhood from natural disaster victimhood contemptible and unconvincing. It’s contemptible because it appears to not even try to be convincing, and, regardless of motives, it fails utterly in my case. The good thing about life is that it’s hedged about with death, and in that constant contretemps we have all the reference points we need to make our own straight lines, if we care to–and to see how our lines veer, whether we want to see that or not.
    Is God a perfectionist?

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  4. B. Will
    May 22, 2013 - 04:26 PM

    As an Oklahoman I am grateful for your concern and prayers. Please continue to keep Moore in your thoughts. God bless!

    Reply

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