God the Insurance Agent
The single best quote in the entire book so far: “What good is religion if it collapses under calamity? Think of what earthquakes and floods, wars and volcanoes, have done before to men! Did you think that God had exempted [us]? He is not an insurance agent.” I have often found, being in the Bible belt of the South, that the people who pray the hardest have a reason to. Is that wrong of me to say that? Probably. However, it is the truth. The most religious people I know, the church three days a week and pray before every meal people, have more skeletons in their closet than anyone else. You have to pray so hard if you have a reason to be there. What I love about this quote from H.G. Wells is that it is a beautiful description of how a lot of people appear to think about God. “I will pray so that I can then sin without regret.” If they pray, it appears, they pay the insurance premium to cover them from their sin.
It’s easy to ignore the death and destruction of far away lands. I will admit, I am one of those people. This morning I saw a headline that children in India were killed after eating a free lunch at school. I’m not sure what the particulars are but beside a passing thought of “Oh how sad”, I moved on. It’s the sad reality of our life. We can’t take in all the death and destruction because our minds would shut down however we cannot ignore it all and assume that someone it will always miss us. I think it was the mentality of “Poor them” that got us into September 11th. We lived under the assumption that it would always happen there and never happen here. We naively thought that God had exempted us, that he was our insurance agent.
People go two ways when horror strikes their lives, they either cling to their religion like a fly to honey or they desert it because they cannot reconcile the two. In events that are beyond the scope of human tragedy, we see those on their knees praying. The churches will fill up and the priests will preach until their throats are sore. We also see looting, riots, and danger. How do you reconcile these two opposite ends of the spectrum? It will be interesting to see what happens to humanity as we move forward in the book.