Bachmann’s Irene ‘joke’ not in the least funny


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Over this past weekend, Rep. Michele Bachmann made a comment effectively saying that the recent earthquake and hurricane that hit the East Coast was God’s way of telling Washington to listen to the American people. You can see the true context of her comment by searching “Bachmann jokes hurricane” on YouTube.

I reference the link because, to her defense, Bachmann, through her campaign spokesman, says she was just making a joke. While I appreciate her attempt to distance herself from Pat Robertson’s editorial-weather-reporting style, I think there is something that needs to be said.
As a Christian, I find this kind of speech — NOT FUNNY.  

First, more than 40 people have died. If God is trying to get the attention of the politicians, then why did he take out 40-plus people who have not been elected to any office? What about the flooding on the Missouri River this spring? What political missteps have the elected officials in Iowa, North and South Dakota, and Nebraska taken that has garnered the attention of the Most High God?

My Bible contains lots of stuff about how to treat widows and orphans (James 1:27), the homeless (Isaiah 58), and pursuing justice (Micah). Should we trust some weather, or tectonic plate shifts designed to get our collective attention, on those issues?

Finally, I think that any self-appointed spokesman for God, whether pursuing humor or not, ought to read Luke 13:4 and have some extended remarks about how Jesus is applying that statement to a recent catastrophe. Or perhaps he or she might want to read through the book of Job and ask her- or himself what God thought about Job’s friend’s insightful commentary on his misfortune (see Job 42:7).

Many of the ways of God are unsearchable. Such is the nature of the creator-creature distinction. What is true is that we live in a world that awaits its restoration and recreation, as God’s people await the completion of our redemption. The reality of the gospel is offensive enough: “Jesus came to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) and “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). 

Politicians and others should stick to the practical things that they are able to speak to and effect change upon. Comments like those made by Bachmann and others get in the way of people responding to the true gospel by providing a set of false defeaters to true Christianity that are most definitely not needed.  

Thankfully, God and his mission in this world are not ultimately thwarted by the scripted or non-scripted statements of politicians (see Job 42:2, Matthew 16:18).  

The Rev. Michael Langer is the pastor and church planter of One Ancient Hope in Iowa City.

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