Friday, June 22, 2018

God is in the coincidences

I sometimes relate the story that I would feel guilty leaving my hospital in Africa because I worried something might go wrong because I wasn't there.

But the nuns (these were hard eyed practical German nuns, not the mushy pious types you usually see portrayed in films) always assured me: Look, God knows you will be away, and he is in charge, so if anything happens it's his fault will, not your fault.

And you know, during those three years, we had emergencies two minutes before I was scheduled to leave, or five minutes after I got back, but only one fatal emergency when I was missing, and that case would probably had died (of septic shock) even if I had been present at the hospital to operate.

The idea that god is in the coincidences is also a theme of Tolkien:
There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought."
--Tolkien, FotR, The Shadow of the Past

so today's coincidence is from Buzzfeed, via Get Religion:

one year ago, a terrorist shot up some congressmen at a baseball session, and what could have been a major massacre was not, because...

If you ask the people who survived, a series of miracles took place that morning, which Roger Williams considers “angels,” and Rep. Jeff Duncan, “God winks.”
That the shooter never got a good shot into the dugout.
That his first shot hit the fence, diverting the bullet’s path away from Rep. Trent Kelly who was standing directly in front of him, at third base.
That he never thought to climb the announcer’s booth.
That the pitchers weren’t there that day, instead of trapped in a batting cage.
That Matt Mika was turning his body when the first bullet struck him, so it didn’t hit his heart.
That Zack Barth could still run.
That Dr. Brad Wenstrup didn’t leave early.
That Richard Krimmer’s ambulance hit green lights the entire way to the field.
that the gate next to third base — through which the shooter could’ve walked through right onto the field — was locked, another fact nearly everyone on the team credits with saving their lives.
"If it was just one thing, you could maybe call it a coincidence, but when you add them all up together, the only way you can explain it is that they were all miracles,” Scalise says.
...The irony is because Steve Scalise was there,” Rodney Davis says, “we all survived.” Because he is the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, Scalise has a security detail — on that morning, US Capitol Police special agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey.
They put themselves directly in harm’s way, engaging the shooter so he started firing back at them, instead of at everyone else....
“If Steve’s not there, he doesn’t get hit,” Wenstrup says. “But if Steve’s not there, there’s no one firing back. And you could have seen about 20 people laying on the field.” ...
Clockwise from top left: Donald Trump presents the Medal of Valor to Capitol Hill Police Officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner, and Kevin Jobe and Nicole Battaglia of the Alexandria, Virginia, Police Department. GettyImages
I post this today not merely to preach, but because yesterday Rush Limbaugh warned that the crescendo of hysteria we are seeing is going to get someone killed.

You see, I remember the 1960's and shudder, for the warning signs are out there.

or, as Buzzfeed writes:

There’s been a lot of discussion the past year about where this broader moment fits in American history, which past era it might resemble. Are we living in 1968, on the precipice of more violence, assassinations, disruption, unrest? ...
  What is certain is the disquieting way June 14 slipped beneath the news so quickly. ...Two dozen members of Congress were nearly killed one morning last year, and the country didn’t change very much at all.
Many lawmakers talk about the need for greater security, their leeriness about divulging too many details about public appearances, the fleeting worry when someone asks them if they are members of Congress, the precautions that started years ago, when former Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot at a routine event in Arizona. With this talk of security, there is an implicit acceptance of some darker reality. Whatever it is that’s wrong, it might just be too complicated to fix.
Yes, it can be fixed, but it's easier and more fun to join the two minute hates.

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