Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sioux City church blesses the Missouri River

I grew up near Sioux City, Iowa - though just across the river in Nebraska - so I had to take note of this:
The Missouri River has received a special blessing from an Iowa church that hopes the ceremony will make the river holy and reduce flooding and drought.

Father Lucas Rice led a group of congregants from St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Sioux City in the ceremony on Sunday.

In 2012, communities all along the river in Iowa and Nebraska experienced severe drought. The year before, flooding along the Missouri caused widespread damage.

Rice says he hopes the blessing will make the river healthy.

Imagine seeing that at National Geographic - a primitive tribe somewhere praying to the river god to prevent flooding. How funny then, huh? But this is the same thing.

And how is that supposed to work? Was God planning to cause floods this spring, but now he can't, because the river has been blessed? "Damn! I guess I'll have to stick with drought for another year!" Oh, yeah, this is supposed to prevent drought, too. So how does that work?

But, you object, this isn't your religion, right? It's Christianity, but not your denomination. Maybe,  but I might note how the Catholic Church blesses pets. I've even seen interfaith versions of it. Is that so very different?

Primitive superstition is primitive superstition. It might seem funny when it's someone else's culture, someone else's religion, but it tends to seem normal when it's your own, doesn't it?

Now, this isn't such a big deal on its own. It doesn't harm anyone. You might even consider it just tradition. But faith-based thinking does harm people. If you can believe, through faith, that blessing will make a river "healthy" or do... something magical to pets, you can believe pretty much anything you want.

And that's a problem. That's a big problem in our country and the world. We desperately need to come to a consensus that having evidence for your beliefs is important. Then maybe we can get past superstition, take off the god-goggles, and find real solutions to real issues.

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