Paul Johnson: carried away as with a flood

The catastrophic tsunami in the Indian Ocean gave many of us reason to crack open the dictionary and reacquaint ourselves with the term ‘theodicy’. Crooked Timber‘s Brian Weatherson, for example, saw in the catastrophe an opportunity to discuss the ‘problem of evil’ (i.e., given the manifest existence of evil in the world, is it not correct to say that God, if he exist, may be all-good, or all-powerful, but in any event cannot be both?).

Now that is is a very proper thing for a philosopher to discuss. As for me, though, I have never found the problem of evil very interesting, as it seems to presume that God plays a much more direct role in the day-to-day running of the world than I think he does.

But this is not the place to explore my unorthodox religious views. I wish instead to consider the religious views of Paul Johnson, which are presumably much more orthodox than my own and are at any rate, I think, far more offensive. For Johnson regards the tsunami from the perspective of classical theodicy, and concludes that it was a Good Thing.

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A Common Public Sphere.

The extraordinary nature of the disaster and the suffering caused by the Tsunami that hit East Asia are obviously calling for extraordinary measures. I’m not sure this is the first time the entire EU felt the need to jontly commemorate, but I’m not aware of any previous instance.

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – The European Union [held] a three-minute silence at 12pm (11am GMT) today to commemorate the victims of the tsunami as the official death toll rises to around 150,000.

The EU [asked] “the whole of the European Union to observe three minutes of silence in order to show solidarity and mourn the victims of the disaster.”

On noon today, most of Europe indeed honoured the Tsunami victims. Planes did not take off or land, stocks were not bought or sold, food was not served or eaten as millions of Europeans stood silent, praying for or otherwise remembering those whose lives were taken or destroyed by a single giant wave on December 26.