AN EVENING WITH RABBI HAROLD KUSHNER
Last Tuesday Eloise and I heard a very worthwhile talk from the author of the best seller, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People".
Rabbi Kushner dealt with the perennial question: if God is just and compassionate --- why is there evil in the world? And -- why do bad things happen to good people?
He framed the answer based as three parts:
>>> God is all powerful.
>>> God is all compassionate
>>> A good person to whom misfortune occurs
He said that when his young son died many years ago he was devastated. During that time he thought about this question of a good God and a world in which evil is a reality.
He concluded that one of the three elements above must be eliminated or erased.
His conclusion was (and is) that God is not All Powerful.
God has limited his power in establishing the laws of Nature and in allowing humans to have free will.
Disasters like Katrina that take the lives of innocent persons and make many more miserable is an act of Nature. God does not and cannot interfere because this is the way he established the world.
When an innocent person is killed by one who hates him --- the murderer is excising his free will.
In both the above cases God cannot interfere since he has chosen to limit his power.
As an example, Kushner said "it's the doctor's job to heal people. God's job is to make sick people, brave."
I would say that in the case of Katrina --- it is job of the community: national, state and local to keep the levees strong and repaired, and when preventative measures do not work to be ready to come quickly and effectively into the disaster areas with all the help needed.
In the case of 9/11 it is our country's duty too protect us, but also to engage in a foreign policy that works towards a world in which there is sufficient shelter, food, and clothing -- and adequate employment for all. Mankind must deal with the root causes of misery that breeds violence.
In both cases --- God is not going to intervene. However, God is constantly present and available with grace that people can tap into to deal with bad situations that God is not responsible for.
"If I must choose between an all-powerful God who is not very loving and compassionate, or a loving and compassionate God -- who isn't in control of everything, I'd rather worship God for being compassionate and just. I'd rather be a part of society that revered God more for his compassion than his power ...God doesn't do 'bad' things to people."