Coronavirus and godless society – Letter to the Editor

Varghese Pamplanil

My initial reaction on reading the article by John Horvat II was to read it as a revisionist one. The writer seemed to have made an attempt to revive the paradigm of going back to the almost extinct, at least in the modern societies, the rituals of the Catholic Church. He apparently held on to the concept of sin and punishment and a God of Vengeance who would punish the wrongdoers without mercy.


This fundamentalist attitude has few takers now. He seems to be keen to bring back the superstitious mindset of the Dark Ages. To suggest that the dangerous pandemic can be arrested by refuge in the lap of God Jesus like frightened babies is a flight of fancy. The remedies to get rid of Coronavirus according to him are drinking the water from the spring of Lourdes, churching and receiving Holy Communion and all that. He has taken umbrage of the sensible and practical steps taken by Pope Francis.


There is a saying in Malayalam: when the house of a neighbour who is not in favour, is engulfed in fire with roaring flames, take the opportunity to destroy his plantains ostensibly to put out the fire. “ sathruvinte veedinu thee pidikkumbol, thee kedutthanulla nattiatthil, avente vazhakal vetti nasippikkuka.”


Permit me to invoke the name of Bart D. Ehrman, author of twenty books including “God’s Problem”, a James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He studied at the Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago, a  fundamentalist Bible college, from the age of 17 as he had a “born again” experience in high school. In 1978, he joined Princeton Theological Seminary.

 

His thesis in simple terms: How the existence of a loving God in control of the world reconciles with the “universal suffering of humans” one comes across. He grappled with the question of how there can be a good, loving and powerful God in charge of the world in the face of massive suffering experience by the human race – not in general terms, but in specific concrete terms, as what individuals experience. In his book “God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question – Why We Suffer” led him to doubt the very existence of God.


He says further: “The God of vengeance is found not only in the Old Testament, as some Christians have tried to claim. Even the New Testament God is a God of judgement and wrath…… The Lake of Fire is stocked up and ready for everyone who is opposed to God. This will involve eternal burning – an everlasting punishment, for those who have sinned against God.”


My personal view: if at all God exists, it is okay.  Let him mind his own business; the Son God could be too busy to preserve the Virginity of his dear mother Mary from the serpent. He has also to ensure her comfort; old man Joseph is very senile and not interested in Mary at all. He had married the already pregnant Mary to avoid a big scandal and to preserve the reputation of the small community of the hamlet of Nazareth. (By the way, in the Hindu heaven there are four females to be taken care of; Urvassi, Menaka, Thilothama, and Ramba. Even for a God four women could be too much of a bother. For an average person, one female is too many.) 

 

The best course of treatment to be meted out to Horvat is to quarantine him with at least one dozen Coronavirus infected persons in a small room with inadequate elbow space. He may be provided with both Old and New Testaments along with litres and litres of Lourdes water. If sufficient quantity of Lourdes water is not on hand, ordinary tap may do; this guy may not be able to distinguish the water provided to him. That would be serving just desserts to him. It is unlikely that he would survive the quarantine; good riddance.


God, if any, please save us from Horvat types of our world.


Varghese Pamplanil

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