Thursday, July 30, 2009

Probably not a miracle

This fire happened just a few blocks from my house this morning. We first saw it on the news just as we started to hear the helicopters and smell the smoke. Thankfully, no-one seems to have been hurt.

From the CBC article:

A suspicious fire has destroyed the Khalsa School near the intersection of Fraser Street and 45th Avenue in East Vancouver, but the school's holy book has been miraculously recovered from the burnt remains of the buildings. [...] It is was not known what condition the book was in as firefighters brought it out covered in a white cloth, but members of the temple attributed its preservation to the will of God.
Members of the temple are free to say whatever they feel to be the truth... but is anyone else a little surprised that the (publicly funded) CBC would use the word "miraculously" in such a way?

I seem to remember similar claims being made about a religious relic that survived another fire that I saw in person - York Minster in 1984. I was a wishy-washy kind of Christian at the time and believed the claim (as well as my Grandmother's allegedly eyewitness account of a sudden fog saving Durham Cathedral from being bombed during WWII*), but I remember touring the Minster when I was a bit older and noticing that the whole area in which the relic was stored was almost completely undamaged anyway.

IMHO it is much more likely that the most treasured items in a given building are the best protected.

ETA: and now Blackcomb Mountain (part of the Whistler resort) is on fire too. I wonder if some miracle will save Seventh Heaven (my favourite ski area on either mountain), or if the militant Olympics NIMBYs will have something to cheer about.

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*Corroborating story about 2/3 of the way down this page

6 comments:

  1. The problem with miracles is that it makes you question all the times when there isn't a miracle.

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  2. Excellent point. Like when people survive the Tsunami/Hurricane Katrina/whatever, and say "God must have been looking out for me". Oh, right, and he just didn't give a fuck about the hundreds or thousands of other people who didn't survive?

    I don't really understand how anyone could believe in that kind of god.

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  3. And why would he so often go to such an extent to save the things that are praising him? It's not really good Christian altruism and detachment from material possesions!

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  4. Well, if there's one thing that the Bible has taught me, it's that the Old Testament god is an egotistical SOB.

    1st 4 commandments:

    have no other gods before me
    don't worship false idols
    don't take my name in vain
    keep Sunday (my day) holy

    The other 6 make more sense ;)

    I don't know enough about other religions' depictions of their gods to say whether this is a common theme in the world's major religions.

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  5. I sometimes hear non-religious people in the US say that something is a "miracle" or "miraculous", when they mean "very lucky" or "very fortunate". A religious person would say the exact same thing and mean it literally. Maybe this is a US way of speaking that has spilled over into Canada.

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  6. Yeah, hopefully you're right and it's just linguistic creep or whatever it's called!

    Welcome, BTW!

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