The Moche lived in northern Peru from about 100-700 A.D. Their molded ceramics are still a highlight in the annals of human accomplishment. If you walk through a museum of pre-Columbian art, it’s easy to spot a Moche piece – the faces are so realistic you expect them to wink at you.
Around 500 A.D., the world was experiencing some drastic climate changes. There was a super El Nino weather phenomenon on the west coast. Cataclysmic floods were followed by drought. The Moche, like most ancient peoples, are thought to have been very religious. They wanted to thwart this devastation and improve the weather by trying to appease their gods. So they sacrificed masses of their citizens. Just slaughtered hundreds of people in hopes of saving more.
Does this sound like religious extremism? Yes. Because it is.
Negotiating with nature is a very ancient thing to do: Pre-science, pre-wheel, pre-written language. As a species, we’ve always seen patterns in natural events and taken it personally. Floods are because of sin – droughts are because of witches. Earthquakes are God’s anger towards women’s suffrage and Chinese immigration, etc.
But now we know better. At least, some of us do. Sort of. Now we know the Earth’s crust shifts. It always has. All our continents used to be one; scientists refer to as Pangaea. We know that continuing shift results in earthquakes. Instead of hurricanes just appearing all of a sudden as a result of moral shortcomings, we can now track them via satellite for days. There is also a growing understanding about how global warming has intensified weather patterns, hurricanes have been made worse by pollution and the extraction process for natural gas known as “fracking” has caused earthquakes.
Yes, we have a greater knowledge of weather and seismic activities than ever before.
So when the East Coast experienced a rare earthquake – there was an archaic response from religious leaders. It wasn’t that these things happen on this planet we all live on – it was because of gay marriage. Rabbi Yehuda Levin told his YouTube audience, “[We] are starting to see the connection.” As if the earth never moved before cake toppers had two grooms.
It’s ghoulish opportunism. Just like in the wake of the quake that nearly leveled Haiti and killed thousands, televangelist Pat Robertson claimed it was because Haitians made a pact with the devil to liberate themselves from slavery 200 years ago. So Robertson’s devil ran an 18th century anti-slavery Caribbean underground railroad? Wouldn’t that be a good thing? He has an odd religion. He also chimed into the “what did we do to deserve a non-fatal earthquake in DC?” discussion by claiming a crack in the Washington Monument meant something beyond why not to build a 555-foot marble obelisk on swampland.
Then there was a hurricane in the same area within a week. For capitalizing atmospheric interpreters – it’s show time! Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann told a rally in Florida – the state with the highest proportion of elderly (think Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries) and hurricanes in the country – that these events are a warning about government spending.
Because weather is a quid pro quo with God and the Republican Party’s agenda.
It’s time to build a wall (or a levee) between church and weather.
Natural disasters aren’t punishment. And religion isn’t a Doppler radar.
In 1693, the Massachusetts colonists thought a hurricane there marked the Apocalypse. In April 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry issued an official proclamation for Texans to pray for rain for three days. Rain has yet to come and it’s categorized as a D4 Drought (there is no D5).
What does this mean? Nothing. It means church and weather should get a divorce and block each other’s numbers. Since church and state are no longer the same thing – church should secede from climatology.
It’s not for the sake of the weather – it’s really for the sake of the church’s credibility.
Because really, we could stop letting gays marry, eat all our vegetables, never cheat on our spouses and get to church three times a week – it won’t stop the weather…or the world.
Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and the managing editor of Crooks and Liars. Tina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.