Dust Bowl Diary

australia_drought_06

Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. (1 Kings 17:7)

What is it with God and water?  First he moves it aside to make room for the land (which is sort of the definition of land when you think about it).  Then he uses it to drown everybody that he put on the land which he moved the water aside for in the first place.  Later he withholds water from the people who survived the water he sent on the land which he made by moving aside the water in the first place.  It’s like water is God’s calling card.  If he likes you, you get some.  If you tick him off you either get dust or way too much H2O.

One of the nifty things about drought (other than the bleached skulls of livestock and other animals strewn across the arid, barren landscape) is that people tend to get desperate.  Crops are withering, trees are dying, streams and wells are drying up, cows and sheep go belly up, people are staggering from dry hole to dry hole, camel wash businesses go bust, pretzel shops close up all over town.  It’s not a pretty picture.

Folks start asking questions like, “Why is this happening?” or “Is God trying to tell us something?” or “Do you know the muffin man?”  These questions eventually lead to the religious practice of absolutely, positively last resort—prayer.  The prayers follow this general pattern: “Hello up there!  Anybody home?  Remember me?  I called last year around Hanukkah.  Hey, up there!  You wanna pick up the phone?”

Then God answers something like this: “So, what am I?  A slab of rotten fish?  What?  You call me only when you want something?  Oi.  Such children I’ve got.”

Then the deal goes like this: The thirsty people say they’re sorry, although they’re not really sure what to be sorry about.  But God is touchy about these things.  So they shrug and sacrifice a few shriveled sheep and offer up a bagel or two.   God rolls his eyes, accepts their lame attempt at making nice—mostly because he knows that’s as good as he’s going to get—and sends some rain.  After a couple of minutes of singing in the rain, everybody goes home soaking wet and relieved, then gets on with life again.  Soon the people get forgetful, God gets irritable and he holds back on the water and. . . .

Ultimately, God is going to get fed up with the water cycle.  According to the book of Revelation, in the reloaded universe God is going to make a big change: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. Bad news for surfers, and you might as well bag your contribution to the Save the Whales campaign.

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