6 March 2011


The last two weeks have been interesting. I have been doing a lot of thinking about a lot of things. Chief amongst them, of course, has been Christchurch and the incredible losses there: at time of writing, over 160 people are confirmed dead, with a projected death toll of around 200, and there has been terrifying damage to the city buildings and infrastructure. Beautiful Christchurch that I was falling for through my various trips down there since September last year is no more. The city as we knew it has ceased to exist.

Last year, the earthquake was larger, but further from the CBD and there were no casualties - a few injuries but everyone agreed that a 7.1 magnitude quake with no fatalities was some kind of miracle. 22 February was different. This time it was afternoon, lunchtime.

Small miracles out of the pain: Christ Church Cathedral, which was hammered this time (the spire came down and the Cathedral roof was smashed by all the  masonry) was expected to have over 20 bodies inside - last night we heard that there were none. That's incredible: lunchtime, people climbing the spire, people in the Cathedral - and no-one died.

The Very Revd Peter Beck, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, had this to say: "God is in all these people" says Beck, as his sweep takes in Civil Defence people, reporters hunched over laptops, police and army personnel in high-vis vests. God is in the midst of all this. God is weeping with those who weep. God is alongside those who are finding the energy to just keep going. God is in the people who are reaching out and seeking to sustain one another. God is about building community, about empowering people." Yes, but where was God was when offices pancaked and burnt and hundreds died?

"Well," says Beck "we live on a dynamic, creating planet that's doing its thing. For whatever reason, our forebears chose to build this city on this place. They didn't know we were on this faultline. God doesn't make bad things happen to good people. We make our own choices about what we do.

"At the core of my faith is that life is stronger than death, and love is stronger than hate. I bring that sense of belief in life into situations like this, which are dire and awful and deadly. At the moment I don't really need to think theologically. You just do it."

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