Sep 28 2017

All Life Matters

_DSC7516I, like everyone else, have been saddened by the devastation caused by the recent hurricanes. Of the three major ones to hit, Irma got special attention from my wife and I. All of my wife’s family lives in Florida and we also have a number of friends who live there. We anxiously awaited news from our loved ones as the storm approached and rolled through the state. You can’t help but worry about your loved ones when they are in harm’s way.

I have to admit that the people of Florida were not my only concern. As someone who has photographed the wildlife of the Sunshine State numerous times I wondered how the fauna would be affected by the hurricane. At first I concentrated on the birds of southern Florida, especially in the Everglades. Would they be able to survive the incredibly strong winds of the storm? Later, I thought about all the alligators there and wondered how they would be affected. I hoped they too would be able to survive.

_DSC7009I have to admit my concern for the alligators was influenced by something I had recently read from John Muir’s writings. Here’s what Muir wrote: “Many good people believe that alligators were created by the Devil, thus accounting for their all-consuming appetite and ugliness. But doubtless these creatures are happy and fill the place assigned them by the great Creator of us all. Fierce and cruel they appear to us, but beautiful in the eyes of God. They, also, are his children, for He hears their cries, cares for them tenderly, and provides their daily bread… How narrow we selfish, conceited creatures are in our sympathies! how blind to the rights of all the rest of creation!…alligators, snakes…are part of God’s family unfallen, undepraved, and cared for with the same species of tenderness and love as is bestowed on angels in heaven or saints on earth.”

_DSC8366I watched a good bit of the news coverage of Hurricane Irma and don’t recall the storm’s effect on wildlife being mentioned once. It made me wonder if anyone cared.   I certainly understand why the primary focus was on the storm’s impact on humans but I’d like to think that there were others beside myself that were concerned about the wildlife of the area. I’m sure there were. And, if not, I can rest knowing God was concerned.

_DSC7622The Bible reveals that God is the author of all life and that all life matters to God. We are no doubt more picky about what we consider important but if God loves and cares for all of Creation shouldn’t we? Even the alligators and snakes mentioned by Muir should concern us for they are our fellow-creatures. So the next time another storm threatens I hope you will lift up a prayer not only for the humans at risks but also for our other brothers and sisters–the wildlife we share this planet with. The Psalmist declares to God, “How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” (Ps. 104:24) Let’s not forget to show our concern for the rest of God’s Creation. God certainly cares for them and so should we.


(The pictures shown here are some I’ve taken in southern Florida.)

Jan 24 2010

Another View of Earthquakes

Haiti scenicThe images coming out of Haiti the last couple of weeks have been horrifying.  I spent some time in that country a few years ago on a mission trip and I find it difficult to comprehend how people who were already suffering greatly can deal with this tragedy.  I find the whole situation most distressing.

What I also find distressing is the response that has come from a number of “religious” voices.  Some are claiming that the earthquake was God’s judgment on Haiti, that the quake was an agent of God’s wrath.  I do not believe such thinking is consistent with the Christian understanding of God nor with good science.

I came across an article on Christianity Today’s website this past week that addresses the issue of why we need earthquakes.  (You can find this article at ) Here you can read how earthquakes, seaquakes and tsunamis are the consequences of plate tectonics and that without plate tectonics we would have no large mountain ranges or continents.  The author makes the claim that “our planet needs plate tectonics to produce the biodiversity that enables complex life to flourish on earth.  Without plate tectonics, earth’s land would be submerged to a depth of several thousand feet. Fish might survive in such an environment, but not humans.”

Obviously, earthquakes can be powerful and have the potential to do massive damage to improperly built structures like those you find throughout Haiti.   Inadequate infrastructure and building codes has been the real culprit behind Haiti’s loss of life.  According to this week’s issue of Newsweek, authorities in Haiti knew a huge earthquake would one day hit their country, but little was done to prepare for it. 

Looking at another natural force of consequence,  hurricanes for millennia have helped form and shape the beautiful beaches people flock to and want to live near.  Those living there often become distressed when hurricanes come their way and cause death and destruction.  Some even point angry fingers at God.  Such folks remind me of those who smoke and then get angry at God when they get cancer.  What did they really expect?

I stand with the Scriptures in affirming that Creation is good and that God is love.  In His love He made us the best possible world.  We may not fully understand why God has arranged some things the way that He did but how could we; He’s God and we’re not!  I hope we can learn to see the goodness inherent in all of God’s Creation and to realize that the apostle Paul was right when he declared that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:38-39)

I reject any theology that says God caused this earthquake to punish Haiti.  The God Jesus showed us loves those people.  As Emmanuel, I even believe that Christ is there in the midst of them now, suffering with them.  I also believe that God is calling on folks like you and me to respond to this crisis by praying for those affected by this natural disaster and to make contributions to reputable organizations that are there trying to help out.  I, too, want to encourage you to give.


(The image above was taken in Haiti on my visit there.  Unfortunately, 98% of their forests have been denuded and in additional to human healing, Haiti needs environmental healing as well.)