Monday, January 10, 2005

Krakatoan Observations

During a trip to the beach this summer, I picked up Simon Winchester's book Krakatoa--a fascinating read about the 1883 volcanic eruption that destroyed the island of Krakatoa in Indonesia, created tsunamis that killed more than 40,000 coastal residents, and, incidentally, spewed enough ash into the earth's atmosphere to give Victorian artists and the rest of the world some startling sunsets in weeks that followed.

Recently, since a devastating tsunami again rolled through the East Indies killing nearly four times as many people as the Krakatoan aftermath, I ran into an acquaintance who happens to be a volcanologist. I mentioned Winchester's book, and my friend, while admitting it was well-written, asserted that he couldn't buy the author's theory that the eruption brought about a bloody Muslim uprising against the Dutch colonial masters that ignited the re-emergence of radical Islam. At least one reviewer in the Bali Advertiser believes Winchester makes a compelling case.

I mulled over the volcanologist's taking exception with Winchester, and coincidentally later read news stories that mentioned how radical Islamic groups in Indonesia are taking a break from burning churches and hunting down and killing Christians to do their part in the relief effort. Well done! What I find odd, though, is that local imams in Aceh say that the tsunami's devastation is a sign from God that Indonesian Muslims are not being faithful enough to the tenets of their faith, e.g., when Muslims kill Muslims, etc.

Without presuming to know the mind of the Almighty, I venture whether imams might consider interpreting this oceanic act of God more broadly?

2 Comments:

Blogger Remainderman said...

On the theory that history means something, it is interesting that the tsunami affected Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims -- that is, many from each of the world's major religions.

(I am excluding the Disneyites, but that is another story.)

1/10/2005 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

Man, knowing the event, searches for meaning. God, knowing the meaning, searches the response.

1/10/2005 11:56:00 PM  

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