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By David Andrew Dugle ~  

Settle down now children, here's the story from the Book of David called The Parable of the Bent Cross.

In the land Southeast of Eden –  Eden, Minnesota that is – between two rivers called the Big Miami and the Little Miami, in the name of Saint Gertrude there was once built a church. Here next to it was also built a fine parochial school. The congregation thrived and after a multitude of years, a new, bigger church was erected, well made with clean straight lines and a high steeple topped with a tall, thin cross of gold. The faithful felt proud, but now very low was their money. Their Sunday offerings and school fees did not suffice. Anon, they decided to raise money in an unclean way.

One fine summer day the faithful erected tents in the chariot lot between the two buildings. In the tents they set up all manner of games – ring toss, bingo, little mechanical racing horses and roulette wheels – then all who lived in the land between the two rivers were beckoned to come hither with their money and play. And play they did.

And in the afternoon of the first day God looked down through the church's tents, for no mere weaving of man can hold out his glare, and He saw that the people were gambling in His name.
"God does not play dice!"
He said. And the vibrations of His words became a twirling in the clouds. And the twirling became a twisting, a dark coalescence stretching down, a howling funnel of wind.

Like a huge saber guided with strange surgical precision, God's winds cut an arc between the church and school. Everything left in the tents was taken up into the heavens, only to be sown lightly over the face of the land. Soon thereafter God's stormy anger subsided, and his wrathful winds moved away.

The people of Saint Gertrude crept out of hiding to look over what God hath wrought. The congregation had been spared. The last breath of wind departed and God's Light broke through the clouds to reveal His Wind's last work. Atop the steeple, the thin golden cross was now tipped, crooked. The faithful knew it was a sign, but they quaked when they thought what the terrible sign meant. Here ends the reading of the lesson.

I have to admit that storms are acts of God in a way. Since I define God as the ground of reality, what made the Universe, and is the Universe, it means EVERYTHING that happens is an act of God.Did you enjoy the story, kids? Sounds just like a Bible story, doesn’t it? You might have even mistaken it for Scripture if I had worked on my Elizabethan English a little harder! Well, guess what? This story is all true. At least in all the important points. God didn't say that about playing dice, that was Albert Einstein. And the part about the sun breaking through right on cue is a bit of a stretch, but it was sunny the next day, when I saw St. Gertrude's bent cross. Yes, they were gambling, and yes, the funnel did cut through right between the church and the school, leaving the buildings pretty much intact, except for the bent cross which was quickly returned to its original upright posture by the Catholic Church. Certainly in an earlier age that story would have made the late edition of the Bible. So, if you were the scribe, was it a miracle that everyone was spared, or was the message that gambling is a sin to be avoided, lest the winds come again?

The sanctimonious among us love to cast calamities as divine retribution, and the last few years we’ve absorbed so much windy punishment from Harvey, Irma, Maria and now Idalia, pummeling the wicked and righteous alike. Property damage has added up to figures normally used for astronomy, but at least our casualties were amazingly low considering those unprecedented storms. Now we all have our share of sins, but the question remains, was it really God’s wrath?

At least we know more than the ancients, that in truth we are living on a watery planet in space, travelling around a powerful nuclear furnace. Even 93 million miles away, its light hits the planet with the force of several H-bombs. Fortunately this force is spread out so it doesn't kill us, but all that energy does kick gigatons of water out of our oceans, going into the air and making storms. These storms have to go somewhere, and since man is everywhere on the surface of Earth these days, somebody is in the path of each storm. Nothing personal, that's just the way it is.

Funny though, even I have to admit that storms are acts of God in a way. Since I define God as the ground of reality, what made the Universe, and is the Universe, it means EVERYTHING that happens is an act of God. Even when He/She/It throws dice. Even when He/She/It arrives in the form of cross repairmen. So is God a vindictive king, a praise junkie we must fear? No, it's more like God is a musical instrument, the Harp of All Possibilities. It's the ultimate symphony and cacophony all at the same time. Listen to the notes.


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