Friday, September 30, 2011

Human conduct and earthquakes

Some wag with a dark sense of humor once remarked that peace could come, at least temporarily, to Israel-Palestine if only the disputants--Jewish, Christian, and Muslim--were to come together on one item of agreement: hatred of homosexuality. Some advance towards that dubious goal has been shown in responses to the East Coast earthquake.

Joseph Farah, founder of World Net Daily and a Christian of Syrian-Lebanese descent, has voiced the following view. "If America doesn't face judgment soon, God will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. And God doesn't offer apologies. He does, however, offer second chances, third chances, fourth chances. He's trying to get your attention. Are you paying heed? What will it take? Will your world have to be turned upside down before you recognize what's happening? Would even that be enough? I know. I know. It was just a little earthquake – and just another hurricane. They happen all the time. What are you making such a big deal about, Farah? You're right. We escaped this time. No big deal. But when your world is shaking, you tend to think about the things that really matter. And what really matters is our relationship with our heavenly Father, our Creator, the Lord of the universe. He is trying to tell us something. His message is very clear. Don't say you weren't warned."

Rabbi Yehuda Levin has voiced a similar view, ascribing the belief to the Talmud. In Yerushalmi Berakhot (9;2). earthquakes may indeed be caused by engaging in gay sex, but other transgressions may trigger the events, including disputes and improper religious offerings. Or God may just choose to bring them on because he is distressed at the destruction of the Temple.

What is the source of this strange harmony, fortunately limited to the fringe of both groups?

As I have shown elsewhere, it is not a case of Christians borrowing from the Talmud, but the reverse. The idea that toleration of homosexual activity causes earthquakes may be traced to a law of the Byzantine emperor Justinian in the early sixth century. Doubtless his edict merely codified Christian folk belief.

So does ancient superstition live on, even today.



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