“Miracle Child Survives Plane Crash”
This and variations of the same were headlines early in the New Year of our collective consciousness. It was a feel-good story and a welcome antidote to the Syrian civil war’s displaced and dead, Isis be-headings and disappearing passenger jets–to name only a few of the receding year’s dismal news leads.
Even so, I am reminded of a movie moment from my childhood. The film was called “The Big Fishermen.” The anglers in question were soon to become fishers of men. At this juncture in the film the nascent disciples had survived a storm on the Sea of Galilee. One of the sailors (who had been fished out of the water by the burly, no nonsense John) was thanking God for his deliverance. John sagely averred: “You can thank God for the storm–you can thank me for saving your sorry ass!” That was a paraphrase and there have been those who have questioned my memory of at least a portion of the last line.
The child who dropped from the sky is named, appropriately enough, Sailor. If it was a miracle that she walked from the plane’s wreckage, it was a miracle that her mother, father, sister and cousin did not share. If one argues that God selected her for survival, than one must also suggest that he selected her family for a fate less benign. In the quiet of her loss or perhaps in some later moment of reflection she might have arguably felt more blessed had the Deity spared her family and landed the plane in the airport in the not too many miles distant. If she doesn’t unilaterally buy the “miraculous child” line she might well run for cover when she hears the distant rumble of a passing storm.
In Jon Ferguson’s meditation on Mankind as “Beasts” he warns about the human propensity to assign our fates to a casual agency in general and to a deity, in particular:
“Do most beasts’ lives end because they: a) get sick and die? b) die of “old age”? c) get eaten by another beast or beasts? d) are murdered? e) are killed in territorial, religious, or political wars? f) are victims of accidents? g) are victims of suicide? h) are victims of natural disasters? – But what if all of these causes of death can be lumped into one cause? Let us think…There is a way…If all existence is “natural”, if all beasts are part of “nature” (man-beasts included), then couldn’t we simply say that all death – all the continuous, horrendous, useless, accidental, merciful, disgusting, tragic, pitiful, inevitable death on the planet earth – is a “natural disaster”? Yes, if we put the man-beast back in his rightful place – back in nature – then all death is “a natural disaster”. At least it seems fair to say that up to now there have been no signs of “divine” intervention.”
Miracle Child? Perhaps, perhaps not…