Monday, May 29, 2006

God smites Indonesia

Yesterday, while flipping through a copy of Time Magazine, I came across this random quote, published out of context, in their "Verbatim" column:

"I do not know what we did. But we must have sinned for God to be angry like this."

-- Jodi Riwono, survivor of an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale that struck near the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, killing thousands of people and flattening entire villages

Now, let's say there is a God and he reads Time Magazine's Verbatim column. I'm wondering how he felt when he read that quote. It seems like there could be only two possibilities: Either he did send the earthquake to punish the sinners of Indonesia or he didn't.

If he did, he's probably bemoaning his communications skills: "Oh, for my sake! I went to all the trouble to kill all those people and I failed to make it clear why!" (And then he hit himself in the forehead repeatedly, saying, "Stupid, stupid stupid!")

But what if he didn't have anything to do with the quake? In that case, he's probably pretty steamed that Jodi Riwono is blaming him for it. How would you like to be blamed for a massive natural disaster you had nothing to do with? You'd probably feel like slapping Indonesia with a follow-up quake (which actually might be where aftershocks come from).

Or maybe God did create everything but couldn't stop the earthquake, kind of like how I was partially responsible for creating my son but can't stop him from watching "Stump the Schwab" on ESPN2 instead of mowing the lawn. In that case, it seems like Jodi Riwono's comments would be really adding insult to injury, making God feel not so bad about being unable to stop the quake.

Another possibility could be that Jodi Riwono was being sarcastic. Maybe a reporter asked her 50 different ways how she felt about the quake and, exasperated, she rolled her eyes and said, "I do not know what we did. But we must have sinned for God to be angry like this. Ya fuckin' happy?" Only Time left the last sentence off, along with the all-important eye-rolling info.

But the way it reads in Time, you get the idea that Jodi Riwono is some kind of superstitious lunatic -- like those Headhunters on Gilligan's Island or George W. Bush -- who believe in a primitive religion. Which she probably is. Like most religious people, she probably worships a god who is not only capable of spontaneous outbursts of violent revenge, but is also cryptic in his message about the whole thing. "Didn't feed the volcano enough virgins or build a big enough megachurch? Here, lick this 6.2 Richter fucksicle, bee-yotch!"

And it's interesting that Jodi doesn't examine her own sins, but those of her whole nation. WE must have sinned, not I must have sinned. Which usually means YOU must have sinned.

So, God – if that is your real name – and you do exist and you didn't smite Indonesia because of its sins and you're reading this, don't feel too bad. Unlike those religious nuts, not all of us blame you every time life turns to shit.

On the other hand, if you did smite Indonesia, how about telling them what they did? Because Indonesians are dying to know. And your explanation would look awesome in Time Magazine's Verbatim column. I'm thinking something like…

"The religious nuts just kinda pissed me off."

-- God, speaking about the sinners of Indonesia