The photo is from a scene in the original Poseidon Adventure (1972). I haven't seen the movie (or the remake) since 1972 so my quote may not be exact. However, a great controversy erupted in my little corner of the Bible belt when the priest, played by Gene Hackman, seemed to accomplish the work of getting the people to safety on his own. I think the most blasphemous thing that he said in the movie was something like, "God I can understand it if you won't help us . . . but now You are just getting in the way!" (Okay maybe he said something very differ but with the same message).
This movie scene was an extreme example of the issue that I want to raise. I do not condone the attitude of the priest. I do think it was a form of blasphemy in the way that he spoke down to God. I can understand the expression of human emotion, especially in just stressful conditions. I mean I can remember shaking my fist at the stars and screaming, out loud, "God . . . where the hell are you?" But of course God is there, and when I come back to my emotional senses I ask Him for His forgiveness in doubting Him.
But I use this photo and story only as an introduction to a far less offensive area and this is us taking credit for things we have done. Why is that blasphemous? It feels nasty, but I suspect that nasty feeling isn't of God (or intended by Him).
I shared a couple of postings ago about my nightmare saga with my passport being lost by the Nepalese embassy and then the US Department of State-Passport Office put my "expedited" passport replacement on indefinite hold. The problem is, I suppose to leave for Nepal in about 10 days. When I did that posting, it looked really grim.
I am happy to say that I do have my new passport and everything is back on course.
But once again an important theological-sociological issue is brought to the forefront.
In my desperation I e-mailed the person who does our church's prayer chain. I told them the story and asked for prayer. I was sincere about it because I wanted prayer and I do believe that God can and still does change the rules of nature to do things.
However, I just didn't pray. I spent, literally, a few hours on the phone working my way up the Department of State chain . . . pleading, begging and showing some anger. Finally . . . on Tuesday morning I was speaking to the supervisor in Charleston, S.C. who was sitting at her desk holding my actual application in her hand. I was able to use a credit card and start the application all over over the phone (btw it is true . . . it got rejected because the postage that we included for the return package was 35 cents short. Ironically, it was the postmaster at our post office who told me the amount of money to send). I was also able to buy the fastest Fed Exp package (delivered by noon the next day) to make sure I got it quickly.
So here is where things get interesting. Did God do a supernatural work? I honestly don't know. I mean, if I had not sent the prayer request along, maybe I could have never gotten anyone on the phone. However, now that I've informed people that I have the passport . . . it is an immediate assumption that a supernatural event did occur.
There is nothing wrong with giving God credit for doing a supernatural work when He chooses to do such. I am concerned though, if we believe in supernatural works . . . when they were natural works . . . we perpetuate a culture of dishonesty. Once again, our Evangelical kids are brought up to believe that God steps in and does supernatual works all the time. Then, later on, and their wife is diagnoses with breast cancer, or they loose a job or fill in the blank, and God does not do a supernatural work . . . will they become disillusioned?
When I heard one person giving credit to God for a supernatual work in my passport case, and I added . . . but I too worked very hard to get this done . . . they seemed appalled and offended. I am not bragging. I did nothing that a monkey with a cell phone couldn't have done. But my point is . . . us keep the situation honest. If we delude ourselves here why is that different from lying and saying I caught a 36 inch salmon when it was a 12 carp?
No, I would never try and compete with God about anything. I do honor Him highly. He created me, he gave me my brain, my fingers my thoughts and all that is. That is how I see monism as different. I truly believe, in my heart of hearts that every thing this side of the creative moment is indeed "supernatural." But in that case the word "natural" means without God's influence, because I do believe that nature is also "supernatural" because it is not without God's influence and cause.