THE FLOOD STORY AS POLITICAL ACTIVISM
With only 39,000 views, including two from Noah's Flood editors, this may not seem like a huge movement. But this video, "STARTLING REVELATION! Hurricane Sandy: Bible Prophecy, Presidential Elections, and Israel" is a good example of Hendel's point that begins this essay:
"It seems natural for people to invoke the Bible at a time like this, whether to describe the massive devastation or to preach about its cause." ~ Ron Hendel
FLOODED - STOP WAR
photo adapted from Eric Thayer
An aquatic destruction by God almost graced the official seal for the United States of America.
The proposal included an image of the parting of the Red Sea. This event gave safe passage to the Israelites and meant death by torrent of water to the pursuing Egyptian warriors and chariot horses. The inscription would have read: "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God." With the inscription, the American Revolution against the British is glorified as religious observance. In the end, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams were not successful in their commissioned efforts to design the U.S. seal, but America was not done with the politics of the Bible's great water events.
Noah's flood enjoys its fair share of political use. From explanations of weather events to arguments in support of the endangered species act, the biblical flood proves a broad-sweeping and flexible text for political use.
Jewel Samad (AFP/Getty)
RACE, RELIGION, AND HURRICANE KATRINA
Thomas Hart Benton
...along the Regent's Canal in Camden, north London,
Salon article points out the way the "Impossible" explores the loss of white Euro privilege in the Indian Ocean tsumani of 2004.
The biblical deluge and its divine aquatic destruction rears up in the wake of nearly every natural disaster today. Hurricane Katrina, which flooded and devastated the city of New Orleans in 2006 and killed over 1,800 people, drew such biblical ire from the likes of Al-Qaeda, Loius Farrakhan, ulta-Orthodox Jewish Zionists, Pat Robertson, Tom Hagee, and other Christians. The political issues varied: abortion, homosexuality, US policy on Israel, American global hegemony, racism, and warmongering.
It is tempting to exempt the politics you agree with from the distaste that grows in your mouth. But this same list of political issues, plus or minus a few, finds yet another soap box every time human bodies wash ashore in multitudes. Whatever can be said about each political issue, I simply note the bacterial growth of political stringency on the corpses of fellow humanity and invite a new morality for our rhetorical speech and political thinking.
Divine judgment is a highly uncreative way to read natural disaster.
The biblical flood is cited in more mundane policy discussions, as well.
Congressman John Shimkus (R-Illinois) quoted Genesis 8:22 in a congressional hearing on Energy and Environment in 2009. He places tremendous weight on God's promise, "never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done." Speaking out against the human causes of global warming, Shimkus went on, "The Earth will end only when God declares it's time to be over. Man will not destroy this Earth. This Earth will not be destroyed by a Flood." He goes on to affirm his belief that "God's word is infallible, unchanging, perfect."
Congressman Joe Barton (R-Texas) invoked the supernatural cause for the Genesis flood in congressional hearings about the Keystone XL Pipeline and its impact on climage change (April, 2013). "I would point out that if you're a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change, and that certainly wasn't because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy." (See video here).
Edward Hicks (1780-1849) was an American Quaker minister who, over his life, painted what he called the "Peaceable Kingdom" series. His painting, "Noah's Ark" was not originally intended for the series, but as art critics note, the style in which he dipicted the animals resembles his lions laying down with lambs.
Senator Mark Udall worked to achieve national monument status for Browns Canyon Wilderness Area. He held one of his two Colorado public hearing at Noah's Ark Whitewater Rafting Company.
Thomas Hart Benton does not appear to have been religious in any way. But as a regionalist painter, his series of paintings of the Kansas river flood in 1951 were extensive and amazing. He sent a lithograph copy to each senator, urging them to expand the flood relief bill. It did not pass, so the region received funds at far under the cost of the destruction.
Far from clarifying a moral universe, the American proclivity for pitting the terms 'tyrant' and 'obedient' against each other wreaks havoc on the republic. These terms are ready-made for human conflict.
The Evangelical Environmental Network, led by Cal DeWitt, began trying to creation "Noah Congregations" among evangelical churches. Their website, creationcare.org devotes an entire section to those harmed by climate change, entitled "Climate & the Vulnerable." Awesome pic here, for endangered species reading.
Awesome pic for endangered species reading:
John Steuart Curry
re: Kaw River Flood in Kansas and the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927