The Jewish and cinematic musings of the Rabbi of The Reform Temple of Rockland in Upper Nyack, New York.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
An Open Letter to Pat Robertson
"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti ... they were under the heel of the French, uh, you know, Napoleon the third and whatever ... and they got together and swore a pact to the devil, they said, we will serve you, if you get us free from the Prince. True story."
I pity you. I don't know any other way to say this. I pity you and I pity your world view. You believe, as do many religious fundamentalists that all events on earth have a cause, have a reason. In particular you like to point to tragedy and explain how the people suffering have brought these events upon themselves. For example you also explained that Hurricane Katrina was in essence God's response to our country's stance on abortion. You have even gone as far as to articulate that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was a divine punishment for the Gaza pullout. Instead of possibly being caused by his poor health, high cholesterol, and and obesity. The reason why I pity you is because you are actually doing a disservice to God, to religion, and to humanity. Now I am not saying that I ascribe to your theology that God causes natural disasters, but I'm willing to play along for a moment. Playing the role of devil's advocate (pardon the pun): according to all followers of God, it is impossible to fully know the mind of God. So doesn't it follow that if things happen for a reason, we may very well not ever know the reason? Yet you claim in each of the tragedies to know the reason. According to you, God is punishing someone, in this case the Haitians, for the so called 'pact with the devil.' So if this is the case, why did God wait two hundred years when the land is populated by mostly God-fearing good Christians? Why did God also strike down missionaries, hospital workers, police officers, the elderly, and the young as retribution for 'crimes' committed two hundred years ago? Is this an act of a loving God? Or is your interpretation simply delusional? Tragedy happens. It happens all the time. We will probably never know why. Instead why don't you look for God in the acts of kindness and charity as the world rallies around Haiti. Countries from across the globe are sending assistance, personnel, money, equipment. Isn't this where holiness really resides? Instead of looking to lay blame, I suggest you do the world a favor and either help or at least keep silent. For stirring anger and resentment, may make you feel better and keep you warm at night. For the Haitians, they could instead really use some blankets.
Sincerely, Rabbi Benjamin Sharff
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Rabbi Sharff is the Senior Rabbi for The Reform Temple of Rockland in Upper Nyack, New York. He was raised in Houston, Texas where he discovered the acoustic and electric guitar while sitting in his dorm room one day. Rabbi Sharff graduated from the University of Texas and was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati.
Rabbi Sharff is the rhythm guitarist for RTR's in House Band, and he also served as the editor for Howard Salmon's z"l Comic Book Siddur.