Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hurricane Gustav, The Republican Convention, and The Laws of Karma 

I always say that this world is the best textbook in learning about the laws of karma.

“One notable concept from ancient eastern philosophies is the law of karma. No English translation does justice to this Sanskrit word, although the statements, “Whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (from Galatians 6:7), the common saying, “What goes around, comes around,” Newton’s third law of motion, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” and the childhood retort, “I’m rubber, you’re are glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you,” give some sense of karmic law.” 
– Spirituality For Dummies 
Chapter 15: “The Laws of Karma and Attraction”

This week we have a great karmic lesson in the making that also makes an important point about fads like The Secret, which encourage people to use their mind to bend the universe to their will. Do our thoughts have power? You bet they do. Do our prayers have an effect? Oh yes. But as I say in the new edition of Spirituality For Dummies, which was inspired in part by the wish to clarify some of these very issues, even more important than having the power to create is knowing how to use it.

“Distilling the mysterious secrets of the universe down into personal creation tools is fine if what you’re wanting to create is in your best interest. But people don’t always want what is in their best interests. They want to fulfill animalistic urges and desires that are being generated by the old, primitive reptilian and mammalian parts of their brains; or they want to accomplish things that a limited society has told them to want. This is one reason why looking beyond current societal fads and into teachings of ancient cultures can give you a bigger picture view and helpful guidance on not only how to create, but more importantly, what to create.”  
– Spirituality For Dummies, Chapter 16: 
“When Thy Will be Done Becomes MY Will be Done”

During the weeks before the Democratic convention of 2008, evangelical leader James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family” organization released a video asking followers to pray for rain to disrupt the convention. In the video, Focus on the Family’s Stuart Shepard called for “abundant rain, torrential rain … flood-advisory rain.” (View CNN's report on this video at In the video, Stuart added, “I’m talking about umbrella-ain’t-gonna-help-you rain … swamp-the-intersections rain.” Explaining why he wanted everyone to pray for rain, Shepard explained, “I’m still pro-life, and I’m still in favor of marriage being between one man and one woman. And I would like the next president who will select justices for the next Supreme Court to agree.”

Well, the weather for Barack Obama's convention speech couldn't have been better, but it looks like all those prayers for devastating rain at the convention could bear fruit, with hurricane Gustav poised to possibly be a devastating torrential, abundant rain that could dampen or disrupt the Republican convention even from a handful of states away.

This is a great lesson in the laws of karma. Previously, some of these extreme fundamentalists have suggested that certain weather tragedies had come as God’s wrath for the sinful ways of the residents in the smitten areas. Now a potentially devastating hurricane is moving toward US land timed synchronistically with this week's Republican convention. We shall see if the same folks who deemed tragedies as God's messages or punishments will now stop to look at their own actions in asking their followers to pray – not for blessings or peace or rain for an area in drought, or for the light of God to fall upon their friends and enemies – but for a disruptive storm that the Focus on the Family video described as "network-cameras-can't-see-the-podium rain." 

Whether the video was offered with some intention of humor, it was also meant as a serious attempt to rally the religious troops to curse what was meant to be a positive effort for the world, albeit one that doesn’t agree with Focus on the Family on a number of issues. Prayers are powerful and don't just fade away.  If you shoot an arrow, it lands somewhere.

“I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.” Even if Gustav calms down (which we all pray he will), the point has been made to those who have ears to hear.

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