Growing up in the Worldwide Church of God, we always took pride in the fact that our opulent headquarters campus was in Pasadena, California— right next to the route of the Tournament of Roses Parade. And most years on January 1st I would be out there with my fellow church volunteers either helping sell Kodak or Fuji film during the parade, or helping with the ignominious task of sweeping the detritus from beneath the grandstands afterwards— all to raise a little cash for our local congregation. Of course, if January 1st fell on a Sunday, the parade was held on January 2nd in order not to interfere with the local churches, and if the parade day fell on a Saturday (the WCG’s sabbath) we didn’t do it at all and one of the other local churches got the concession that year.
Every year our ministers smugly predicted good weather for the parade (and our concessions.) Indeed in my lifetime it had always been so— the parade seemed charmed, and even when the weather threatened rain, the skies would always shut up and the clouds would roll away, and while the air was usually rather cold until the sun rose above the buildings on Colorado Boulevard, the weather always turned out fine for a parade.
And of course, the WCG wasn’t the only group that believed the Rose Parade was smiled on by the divine. As discussed in the Los Angeles Times article Hoping Floats Won’t Have To, The Rose Parade organizers themselves have a number of traditions and superstitions built up around the idea that God really likes the parade and would go to some lengths to avoid raining on it.
Until this year, of course. Yes, it was simply a matter of time.
But of course, this too has ever been so. Some residents of New Orleans kidded themselves that God must be protecting the city, because every hurricane that came by missed. And going back a little further, we Americans in general kidded ourselves that nothing like September 11 could happen on our soil.
The other side of the coin is the “Godly Gloaters—” the Pat Robertson types who crawl out of the woodwork like drowning cockroaches every time the water rises and proclaim, “God has turned his back on this sinful…” nation, city, parade— you name it.
The simple fact is, it is not a matter of divine indulgence or retribution. It is simply a matter of circumstance, time, and chance. This is California— it doesn’t often rain on January 1st, but sometimes it does. New Orleans was built below sea level. Bullheaded politicians give America the political enemies it deserves.
One can only dodge so many bullets.
So those of you who think you know God’s mind, get off it. You would do better to act as if your god doesn’t exist (because assuredly he/she/it doesn’t) and take responsibility for the consequences of your own— your city’s— your nation’s actions.
Here’s hoping for better weather next year.
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