A god in ruins

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    …what if I say to you now I’m an atheist? An agnostic?

    So argued President Duterte in response to the invocation of God’s name in criticisms, principally by religious personalities, of his war against criminality.

    All for the sake of argument, the President hastened, affirming his faith: Pero maniwala ako ng Diyos…

    It is just that, he also believed, the death penalty needed re-imposition, both as punishment and deterrence: Hindi tumalab yung death penalty noon kasi hindi in-impose. One, because of the Catholic Church. Second, the bleeding hearts, because only God can kill. Ang problema niyan, I ask you, what if there is no God?

    Duterte de profundis now: Where were You when we needed You? So where is now God when a one-year-old baby, 18-month-old baby is taken from the mother’s arms brought under a jeep and raped and killed. So where is God?

    To that question, we just leave the answering to the men and women of the cloth. Maybe, best leave it to God Himself, if He, indeed, does exist. To follow the Duterte drift.

    And religiously…okay, dutifully, followed it, I did: leading me to this Zona piece of November 18, 2013.

    “I DO not mean to be… God must have been somewhere else or he forgot that there is a planet called Earth.”

    In near tears, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte uttered, overwhelmed by the death and destruction he came upon in Tacloban.

    Coming upon the images of the dead bodies littering the streets of the devastated city, of the father carrying his dead daughter, of the wife finding her dead husband and one daughter and still searching for her other three, of the mother cradling her lifeless child in a makeshift hospital, of countless other scenes of anguish and despair, I did not do a Duterte. Terrified as I am of casting even but the minutest iota of doubt over the omnipresence and the omniscience of God.

    What instantly came to mind was the Book of Job, tailor-made for Supertyphoon Yolanda’s impact, thus: “When a sudden flood brings death, he mocks the plight of the innocent. The land is given to the power of the wicked…” (Job 9:23-24).

    (Find juxtaposition there of the tragedy of Leyte and Samar and the plunder of priority development assistance fund (PDAF) and the pillage of Benigno Aquino’s disbursement acceleration program (BA-DAP). Indeed, the biblical times are visited upon us.)

    Job’s lamentation amounts to nothing less than a direct, if angry, indictment of God for His mindless indifference, indeed, even for some sadistic glee.

    Absolute apathy of the Almighty, thus: “I call for thy help, but thou dost not answer; I stand up to plead, but thou sittest aloof…” (Job 30:20)

    Where Duterte expressed fearful doubts, preceded by a more fearful apology, Job accused God of un-being His very being. In matters of the divine attribution of justice, mercy and compassion, at the least.

    Infuse some religious conceit there and the question gets propounded:

    So how can God – in all his mercy, justice and compassion – allow such hellish suffering to this the only Christian nation in Asia?

    One. He did not. The people invited the disaster upon themselves for their sins.

    Two. The devil did it, in the service of God. In some sort of Joban experiment to test the sufferers’ fidelity to Him.

    We look up the Book and find it was the Satan that challenged God to a wager that the blamelessness and uprightness of Job were due to the blessings he had received from God. Thus, taking these away, the Satan said, would lead the man of Uz to “curse you to your face.” (Job1:11)

    Back to the present. The greater, okay, worse suffering in these disasters always impacted upon those with the least, if any, material blessings. It is always the poor that gets the worst beating.

    So what need still to try them who, in effect, have been in continuous and arduous tests all their miserable lives?

    All too ungodly of anyone named God.

    So when the poor and the innocent die by the thousands, even as the wicked get possession of the Earth, with God letting it all happen – on a bet, or by plain indifference – of what use is worship, to what end is morality and ethics, of what good is faith?

    The very easy answer: Leap from faith.

    God was not – as Duterte supposed – somewhere else. Neither did he forget planet Earth.

    God, simply, was not.

    God did not – as Job accused – mock the plight of the innocent. Neither did he give the land to the power of the wicked.

    As God was not, so he did not. So he could not.

    It was not only Tacloban, the rest of Leyte and the other spots in the Visayas that Yolanda devastated. A god also lies in ruins there.

    BACK TO the issue at hand now, Duterte thus: So where is now God when a one-yearold baby, 18-month-old baby is taken from the mother’s arms brought under a jeep and raped and killed. So where is God?

    Instantly comes to mind the similar lamentation of the abandoned child Glyzelle Palomar before Pope Francis at the UST grounds: Many children get involved in drugs and prostitution. Why does God allow these things to happen to us? The children are not guilty of anything.

    The Pope could only hold her in comforting embrace, discarded his pre-prepared speech, and responded in his native Spanish: She is the only one who has put forward a question for which there is no answer and she was not even able to express it in words but rather in tears.

    Pray Duterte not to curse at the Pope anew.

    So …what if I say to you now I’m an atheist? An agnostic?

    Then, G.K. Chesterton: Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God.

    All power, all glory be, Deo-terte Almighty!

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