Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Choosy Disasters Choose...

The video, like a lot of things these days, has a somewhat misleading title: "CNN's Wolf Blitzer to atheist tornado survivor: 'You gotta thank the Lord'." The title is misleading because Mr. Blitzer didn't realize that Rebecca Vitsmun was an atheist when he was on his "Thank the Lord" binge. So it wasn't a matter of him attempting to press an atheist into showing gratitude to a deity she didn't believe in, but rather making the (reasonable) assumption that she was a fellow Christian, and becoming a bit carried away. If you chose to, it's easy to fault Blitzer for wearing his faith so openly on his sleeve while covering a story, but it's really a human-interest piece more than anything else. And "thanking the Lord" has become almost a reflex for many American Christians. From the outside, it often seems that Christians believe that their god created mankind incompetent as well as sinful, but this is not a position that they arrived at out of intentional disrespect.

I found the video through a Google+ post that carried its own bit of strangeness. One sentence read: "[Rebecca Vitsmun]'s the woman who survived a tornado with her son even though she's an atheist, as Wolf Blitzer awkwardly found out." "Even though she's an atheist?" Where on Earth did that come from? There was nothing in the clip that seemed to indicate that Wolf Blitzer, or anyone else, was particularly surprised that an atheist had survived the tornado that flattened Moore, Oklahoma. I'm not sure than anyone expects that disasters are so choosy about whom they kill.

The mutual distrust, and expectations of disrespect, that pass between atheists and deists seem to have little purpose other than to keep a tired conflict alive. But I suppose the fact that we have time to devote to such things is better than the alternative.

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