The blogosphere has been on fire with multiple comments about the tornado that has devastated Moore, Oklahoma. The most notable exchange has been the one initiated by Rachel Held Evans, in response to a tweet by John Piper from the Book of Job attributing the tornado to the sovereignty of God. As the case has been more than adequately covered by the brilliant journalistic talents of Sarah Pulliam Bailey, we’ll save our comments on it for a later post. (I have one in the works.)
In contrast to all of this furor, we here at A Christian Thing have remained silent. Yes, all of us were very busy with our actual jobs this week. But we also did not pounce on this event as a moment for conversation on our Thing.
This is because this is not a time for conversation. It is a time for silent action.
I write this because some have recently asked me what a proper Christian response would be. If indeed both John Piper’s and Rachel Held Evans’s responses are a bit off kilter, then what is a proper Christian response?
I can tell you what it’s not: it’s not to do the me-and-God thing.
It’s not to leverage Oklahoma for our own personal reflections on the awesome sovereignty of God. It’s also not to blast those who do that.
This is because at heart, being Christian is about being involved in a set of social relations. That’s why the best theological responses to the Oklahoma tornado have been those who report their active solidarity with those in Oklahoma both in prayer and in material action. If you can believe it, for example, I saw status updates from both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America about what parishes were doing in Moore. Pope Francis has given his condolences to the Archdiocese as well and pledged his solidarity while asking the Lord to receive the faithful departed, especially the children among the victims; here’s also a roundup from Oklahoma’s Archbishop Coakley. The United Methodist Church has a place where you can donate. The nondenominational Life Church in Oklahoma is also taking donations and leading relief efforts and were commended by the World Evangelical Alliance’s Geoff Tunnicliffe for their initiative.
Those are Christian responses. As for me, I’m looking forward to finding out soon how we in the Pacific Northwest can help, whether, say, my home parish is taking a donation. Yes, I am praying because, as Hans Urs von Balthasar reminds us, prayer is never a solitary task but always undertaken in the communion of saints, even when we pray alone. I’d like also to help materially, and any suggestions in the comments below would be most sincerely welcome. I mean, I’ve found a few things that I mentioned above, but maybe I’ve missed quite a bit. By saying all of this, I mean to really say that we don’t have to write a Christian response. We must instead simply be Christian.