God Crashes Train, Kills Four. Oh, wait …

This story caught my eye because it happened fairly close to a place in the Bronx I drive to every weekday.

New York’s subway system covers the city itself, but also extends itself about 75 miles north to Poughkeepsie. This part of it is called “Metro North,” and is a particular convenience to people who work in the city but choose to live a hour or so away in cheaper, safer towns.

That train derailed Sunday morning, injuring scores of people and killing four. Taking a 30-mph curve at 80 mph will do that for you. The investigation is ongoing.

For Daily Beast writer Michael Daly, one fascinating side-light of the story was the “humanity at its best” angle, where  non-critically-injured passengers, recruited by rescue workers, pitched in to help those more badly hurt.

Amazing Grace in the Bronx: Inside the Metro-North Train-Wreck Rescue

The better-off passengers applied gauze to the wounds of others and offered whatever aid and comfort they could as the firefighters attended to those who were most seriously injured.

It’s a touching and uplifting aspect of the tragic event, and I’m glad this part of it was told. The bulk of the story is about how helpful and cooperative everybody involved was.

The story goes off the rails (see what I did there?) in the last four paragraphs, descending into what I can only call blatant preaching. The human interest story ends, and the article shifts into goddy blather worthy of the Religion page:

The four dead from this Thanksgiving weekend wreck of 2013—who included a media consultant named Jim Lovell, on his way to help prepare the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center for the annual lighting—were a reminder that our most fundamental blessing, the gift of life, is forever subject to happenstance. You need only chance to sit in the wrong seat on the wrong train. A good many survivors afterward offered thanks to a higher power instead of simple blind luck.

“God is good!” exclaimed a 19-year-old college student.

“Thank God!” said the husband of a conductor.

If God is in goodness just as the devil is in evil, then God was indeed manifest in all those battered and shaken people who heeded the call from the firefighters to help somebody more injured than themselves. Ellson knew just what to call this kind of grace. “Amazing.”

I’ve come to expect nice Christians to thank God for all those times surgeons and paramedics, cops and firefighters  save their lives … but I doubt I will ever really get used to it. And I doubt I could ever respect a reporter who dons pulpit clothes in the middle of an otherwise factual story.

  • PamInIndiana

    People thanking god for the good other people do is a continual source of irritation to me. I wonder if they think Free Will derailed the train, and therefore their god is exempt from blame?

  • KeithCollyer

    What they really mean is thank god he killed all those other people and not me


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