Friday, 6 July 2012

When God Decides to Send a Flood

... or so say some bishops, apparently*. Not that you can trust the gutter press.  (Gutter press - flood - geddit?)  We are reaping the results of our environmental damage, or it's our lax sexual morality. Not mine, you realise. Other people's.

In the 17th Century BC, the Minoan Eruption and a resultant tsunami sent the Minoan civilisation into a decline. It is not believed that the Minoans had by this stage developed coal-fired power stations or the internal combustion engine.

In the 18th Century AD, Cowper wrote the poem "On a flood at Olney". Not only had nobody thought of civil partnerships in the 18th Century, but in Olney itself a bloke merely being a bit funny was punishable under law by tarring and feathering.

By all means read the signs of the times, if the signs are truly unusual or the times supremely fraught. But we live on a rainy island. Floods can happen, especially if you live near a river. The thing most modern floods in Britain teach us is that you shouldn't build houses on flood plains. To that degree, it's a warning against laziness and greed. But it's also simple cause and effect.

Life is fragile and the world is scary. But if being opposed to homosexuality and having a low carbon footprint kept you immune to floods, how on earth would you explain Bangladesh? In fact, if we're to be too literalistic, wasn't a flood the one thing God wouldn't use for punishment?

*Or, as Charlie Peer has pointed out so kindly, did 5 years ago.


  1. And the Graham Dow story was almost as long ago as the Flood, dating from 2007.

    1. Oh gosh, you're right. Although, in a weird way, that proves my point. Since clearly the world has got worse since then, and yet these floods aren't so severe.

      I daren't look to see if I commented on this story five years ago.

  2. If you followed the twitter stream from #synod today, just after the Houses of Clergy and Laity voted on taking the Measure on Women as Bishop's forward for discussion Monday, the college they were in was struck by Lightning. It powered all of the IT down.

    This provoked the inevitable tweets from one or more about it being a sign or devine act of retribution. Mostly from the more Orthodox people. It was gleefully leapt on by the right wing, Church of England Newspaper.

  3. We have relatively few old rural churches, mostly because they burned down, incidentally taking with them the birth, death and marriage records back in those pre-modern days, which could be convenient, but that's not my point.

    Anyway, I'm sure that adherants of rival sects snickered about about the wrath of God, at least when their own church wasn't burning down. Personally, I think building them of wood on the highest point of land in a small town without running water (although there was a fair bit of water in the North Atlantic at the bottom of the hill) and then heating the place with wood might be contributing factors.

    1. We English have very few churches made from wood also, and for the same reason. That's probably why they were rebuilt in stone. But placenames like Whitchurch (ie White Church - one built with stone not wood) still recall when the change started to happen.

  4. The rural areas here never seem to be able to afford stone or brick churches, although the two rival cathedrals in our capital city are both stone, and some of the Formerly Methodist and Presbyterian ones are brick.

    There are no guarantees, however. During the last Great Fire (1892) a lot of people put their valuables in the stone Anglican Cathedral, which then burned. I think the roof caught, and then the stuff inside. The RC cathedral stood on higher ground a bit apart from the flames, and survived.


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