Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hurricanes and Church History

I wondered if any work has been done on the impact of severe weather events on church history.  I have hurricanes on the brain, because of where I live, but I'm also thinking of fire and earthquake.  I've been thinking about Hurricane Katrina which blew through South Florida 10 years ago today, and Hurricane Andrew who stormed through 23 years ago tomorrow.  I'm thinking of churches that never did recover, as their members moved, and new members never came to take their place.

I might also think about insurance rates, which may have driven some churches out of business.  I know many churches who are not insured for wind, because the deductible is ridiculously high--if a church knows they will never be able to pay the deductible, then why pay the monthly insurance bill, also quite high.

I think of hurricanes and our experience of God.  I think of the laws of nature, laws of Physics and Chemistry, laws which are not very forgiving.

I think of human structures and institutions, so very fragile in the face of these harsh laws of nature. However, I also think of the ways that humans come together in the aftermath of a storm.

I wonder how storms change our brain chemistry--I think of those of us who may never achieve brain stability again.  I wonder how these traumatic events affect the long-term health of the church.

When a storm forms, I watch some of the weather bloggers react with glee, and I say to my screen, "You have never spent 6 weeks trying to move ficus tree debris from your back yard only to have a stronger hurricane rip through."

Ten years ago, it had just started raining in South Florida.  By the end of the day, many of us had a lot of clean up to do.  Our back yard ficus fell over, very gently, and squished our shed.  In the picture below, you can see the top of the shed, now on the ground:

In the picture above, much of the debris has been cut away to reveal the shed below.  The picture below gives you some sense of the scale; the figure in faded red is my spouse bending over his chain saw with the fallen tree above him:

Luckily, my spouse was able to get the chainsaw out from under the tree.

Just looking at these pictures makes me tired.  And this damage was done by a category 1 storm, not a superstorm like Hurricane Andrew, which wiped out Homestead 23 years ago tomorrow.

How do hurricanes change our faith and our larger church institutions?  And how can we train for resilience in the face of a changing climate? 

Climates of all sorts are changing--I wonder how these events will shape our history?

No comments: