Oklahoma tornado doctor: a bundle of vague faith

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The Oklahoman, my hometown newspaper and former employer, is rising to the occasion in its coverage of this week’s Moore, Okla.,tornado.

That’s no surprise for a newspaper that has gained way too much experience covering major tragedies — including the Oklahoma City bombing and the May 3, 1999, tornadoes.

Nonetheless, I’m going to provide a little constructive criticism of one tornado-related story that caught my attention in today’s Oklahoman.

The story concerns an emergency room doctor:

MOORE — Dr. Stephanie Barnhart began the scariest day of her life with her usual routine — listening to Christian music on the car radio, thinking about the 12-hour workday ahead and offering a silent prayer for strength to handle whatever she might encounter.

Christian music. Silent prayer. Anybody see the potential for a strong religion angle?

Keep reading, and the writer provides a compelling narrative of the events leading up to Barnhart finding herself — and the medical center where she works — in the path of the storm.

Eventually, there’s this:

The tornado was now just seconds away. It packed 200 mph winds and was destroying whole neighborhoods as it churned across the landscape. Barnhart glanced at the TV screen in time to see the tornado was near 149th Street and May Avenue when the hospital’s lights flickered and then went out, plunging the room into darkness.

Barnhart prayed.

“Please, Jesus,” she said.

The roar grew louder. Their ears began to pop from the air pressure change. They felt the ground shake and their bodies tremble. …

Barnhart said she was terrified, but also at peace that everything would be OK. She never feared for her life.

Jesus. Peace. Again, I ask: Is there a religion angle here?

Finally, there’s this nugget of religion:

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