When it comes to natural disasters, I think the contrast is most acute. A Dualist sees this physical earth as some kind of vapor when juxtaposed to the spiritual world, which is the true reality. Pantheists are somewhat on the same page as Christian Dualists when it comes to this metaphysical concept.
A monist believes that this physical world is very, very real and extremely important. God didn't create the physical universe as an accidental belch when He was only interested in the far more important spiritual realm. We certainly do not believe (as some have interpreted what I'm trying to say) in a naturalistic, closed system of the universe's origins. Meaning that the Big Bang happened by a pure accident of physics and everything today is the product of naturalistic cause and effect.
I personally believe that this physical world is not just a temporary (and inferior) situation that will be replaced by us being only spiritual beings for all of eternity as we float on clouds. I believe that the New Heavens and New Earth, that God is going to bring, is a wonderful repair job of the universe and an improvement up to the intended (before the Fall) state of the physical universe.
So the singularity of "monistism" is the believe that the spiritual AND the physical are both created by God and is God-stuff, thus not crap and thus worthy of great valuation. But, we certainly agree with the concept of the Fall, so the physical world is not perfect as God had intended.
So, when it comes to natural disasters, the Dualist must show his/her hand. Since this physical world has little significance (including the laws of physics, plate tectonics and etc.) they must ascribe meaning to the event from the far more important (in their view) spiritual realm. So, as you could hear in thousands of pulpits around the world this Sunday morning, the horrible tsunami in Japan was either, 1) God judging those horrible Buddhists, 2) birth pains of the coming Tribulation or 3) God doing it just to teach patience to some American Evangelical sitting in his hot tub (I pick on hot tubs a lot I know, and it is probably because I enjoy mine so much and I feel kind of decadent) and who was wanting to watch a football on his waterproof HD flat screen but the game was interrupted by breaking news from Japan.
I as a monist do not have to do that. I can sit comfortably at the same table (in this one metaphysical arena) with the pure naturalist. Like how Lewis described Aslan, the earth is good, but it is not safe. The reason the earth is not safe is because of the dynamics of the planet and somehow (different than Aslan) that lack of safety is tied to the fall. So, the tsunami happened because there was a sudden up thrust of the earth's crust. The slip happened because the pressure had build up for a long time according to Newtonian laws of physics. The wave was produced in strict accordance to those same laws (which I believe were created by God) the displacement of a fluid produces waves. I think I've made my point.
I still consider myself a Calvinist on most issues. I don't worry about the salvation of my Children because I believe that is in God's hands. I do what I must to help them, but I'm not in a panic that it totally depends upon me. So my Calvinist friends insist that God has to specifically plan and execute the earthquake, the direction of the tsunami and specifically which little child was torn to bits and which one was safe. "All in his plan." They suggest to say anything else weakens God.
I've said before that I'm certainly not on the same page as Rabi Kushner (Why Bad Things Happen to Good People). As I said a few months ago, I heard an interview with him where he came to a crossroads in his life that he knew that he either had to have a good, loving God or a Omnipotent God . . . but he couldn't have both. So he, willingly, choose the good, loving God. His conclusion was that God, like us, is a victim of the powerful acts of nature. I'm not saying that at all. In my concept of God, He wiggled His nose (okay, this is a pun) and the whole, now 14 billion light-year diameter, universe came into being. Surely then, He could hold together a deep sea fault line or calm down a rouge wave. But, in my view, He created this wonderful physical world with real cause and effect. Somehow the universe was safe under His idea conditions. But now, through the fall, it is not safe. If I jump off a nearby (250 foot) bridge, I will most likely die. I have one patient who survived his attempted suicide off that bridge only because he almost, literally, hit a Coast Guard cutter on the way down. They fished the pieces of his body out of the water and flew him to a trauma center. But physics are real and they are not safe.
Does God intervene? From my reading of scripture it appears that He does. He ask us to pray for protection so it is implied that He does protect. But in my real-life experiences (which also reveal truth) His acts against His laws of physics are rare . . . but we still must pray.
So, in my model of seeing the world, we not only can weep at the loss of life of the Japanese, but it is our God-given occupation to weep with them. We stand shoulder to shoulder with God in the wailing line. Not a weak, impotent God, but a God who knows that there is a reason that He must not intervene. It is our job to curse at death and destruction and to hold hope for the coming new world that will either be safer or us more indestructible.
Once again I had to type on the fly without proofreading, so please forgive me for typos, verb disagreement, wrong words and etc. I do see the light at the end of this business creating tunnel and I hope my work week drops from about 80 hours right now to a more manageable 60 in the coming weeks.