Devastation in Haiti

As a native Californian, I've been through a few serious earthquakes in my life--Sylmar 1972 and Northridge 1994, just to name two--but never have I experienced anything like the devastation in Port-au-Prince. A 7.0 is less an earthquake than it is a subterranean nuclear bomb, and in a Third World country stricken with almost impenetrable poverty and questionable building standards, the extent of the damage and loss of life will be overwhelming, as is already becoming evident.

The question for those of us in more fortunate areas of the world is simple: how should we react to this? The two obvious answers are to give to relief efforts and to pray for the victims. Religion is rarely all of a piece, though, and there have already been two distinct reactions to the events in Haiti. Let's compare them, and you can decide for yourself which is more humanitarian, more helpful, and dare I say more Christian.

First, the televangelist Pat Roberts, on his show The 700 Club :

Now, an Orthodox priest, Father Jonathan Tobias, on his blog _Second Terrace_ :

Pray for mercy. repeatedly, profligately. Do not wait for detailed information to give to the Lord, as He knows it already. Do not wonder whether one should pray for non-Christians or non-Orthodox. Do not try to figure out how your prayers may make a difference. Now is not a good time to be deterministic or gnostic.

Give. Repeatedly. Profligately. Give through the IOCC, through the American Red Cross, through the MCC, Friends Disaster Service, World Vision. Do not wait for detailed information. Do not wonder whether one should give to secular or Christian or Orthodox organizations. Do not try to figure out how your gifts will make a difference. Now is not a good time to be an accountant.

Do not be philosophical and think decrepit thoughts like Voltaire upon Lisbon.

Wondering why an earthquake happened is a waste of time. For Christians it could be worse, as it takes away time from prayer._

One need not tax one's brain too hard to figure out which one I choose to stand with. Axios!