Sunday, March 13, 2005

a funny interpretation of the tsunami disaster

After the tragic distaster of the tsunami, a priest in Korea gave a funny interpretation. He insisted that the tsunami had been a God's penalty to those ares that were not christian-dominant. It is really silly and funny. But, many branches of Protestant in Korea are quite literally aggressive because historically they were influenced by the aggressive western protestants. About one hudred years ago, the protestants in Korea tried to destroy many traditional cultures with physical forces. Todays, they seem to be blind and not reasonable. They don't have a reason. More tragically, it is the fact that some crazy priests have a big impact on many lay persons. I think that for some people the news source is more influential than the news contents or media. Sometimes, media scholars seem to overlook the power of news source.


Aaron said...

America's own Fred Phelps, professional gay-basher, did something similar, issuing a press release thanking God for the "3,000 dead Swedes."

Greg D. said...

There are other more subtle ways of invoking the "wrath of a Christian god" frame that I saw in the partisan web media in the days after the tsunami. On almost all of the self-defined conservative news and watchdog sites that I checked, there were either "news articles" comparing this tragedy to the Biblical flood of Noah's, and/or "reader surveys" invoking this archetypal punishment for the wicked. Having been reared a Christian myself I readily interpreted such "journalism" as code for "these people are not like you and if God intended them to die and for you to be spared, there must have been a good reason". An NPR radio report on religious response to the disaster in the following week surprisingly showcased several religious leaders of various faiths expressing similar sentiments as well (probably still available in archive/transcript format on their web site). I wrote to the producer of the piece and asked why she had not showcased any "secular humanist" philosophical responses to the disaster. She replied quite kindly (but also rather condescendingly) to me that she was the _religion_ editor and was not supposed to do stories that weren't about _religion_. Again, grist for a theoretical mill to think about how "natural" disasters are socially understood (constructed) within particular political-economic-philosophical worldviews.