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IS GOD CRUEL? By Bambino I. Martins

What follows are the musings of a sound mind, though in a sick body.[This may seem enigmatic to alumni of Grant Medical College in Mumbai, India. The college motto says: "Mens sano in corpore sano"{healthy mind in a healthy body.}]

My thoughts are not to be construed as the final words in the treatise on theology by St. Thomas Aquinas.

From time immemorial, mankind has pondered over the question above. But I felt the urgency and poignancy of the question like a brick of lead as I lay in my hospital bed suffering from two strokes, open heart surgery and brain surgery. Even when, one morning, my wife, Wilma, told me that my left side was completely paralyzed, I did not realize the seriousness of my predicament. But later that day when I was watching the Clinton impeachment proceedings on TV Wilma said I didn't seem too interested. Then it dawned on me that not only was my left side completely paralyzed, but that I had become a Democrat! Then, I knew I was really sick! One day, a nurse woke me early in the morning, and told me I was going to the Radiology Department for a CAT Scan of the abdomen . I said: "what for" and she replied: "The doctors want to look for your spleen". What she meant to say was:" look at your spleen". I began to wonder where my spleen had disappeared. I had this nightmarish vision of a cardiac surgeon hawking my spleen in a spare body parts market in Timbuktu! Or in Chor Bazaar in Mumbai ( a market in Bombay for stolen goods.)

Coming back to the original question, it occurred to me that the answer may be gleamed from the philosophy of a South Indian philosopher (Manu) who lived six centuries before Christ. Manu declared that we lived in two parallel worlds. One was the world we could observe with our senses and the other was the world of the spirit. To most people the world of the body is the real world and the world of the spirit is a figment of our imagination. Manu said it should be other way around because The real world is perishable and only the world of the spirit is permanent. If one examines God's actions in this context, i.e., in context of spiritual and temporal worlds, we will realize right away that God is not cruel at all. God never allows our spirit to be hurt and even when our bodies undergo pain and suffering, invariably we are brought closer to a loving God who desires not that we be buried with perfect bodies but that we die without a stain of sin on our souls. In my own case, my illness has brought me closer to God and I am happy to say I still have my spleen and I am still a Republican!! The following story(from a book by Rev. Fr. Tony DeMello, demonstrates clearly, the distorted observational skills of man and the fallacy of the conclusions derived therefrom.

One night a man had a dream. He dreamt he was walking along the beach with the Lord and across the sky flashed scenes from his life.. after each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonged to him and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life, there was only one set of footprints. He also realized that happened at the lowest and saddest times in his life, This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it. "Lord, You said that once I decided to follow You, You would walk with me all my life. Yet, I notice that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most, You decided to desert me". The Lord replied: "My precious child, I love you and I would never abandon you. During the many times of your trial and suffering. , when you see only one set of footprints, I was carrying you on my shoulders, so that you would not stumble and fall!"

My sickness, caused by microbes that went wild in my blood stream, reminded me of the following story about Louis Pasteur, the great French microbiologist, who has probably saved millions of lives because of his discovery of the process of Pasteurization: [I cannot vouch for the veracity of this story, but I can state that there are more grains of truth in this story than in the President's testimony. One day, Pasteur was traveling by train from the countryside outside Paris into Paris. Seated next to him in the train, was a young sophisticated man, After a while, Pasteur, pulled out rosary beads from his coat-pocket and began to pray the Rosary. The young man was startled and said: "Old man, what kind of an idiot are you to pray in this Modern Age?!" . today miracles are worked not by God but by geniuses like Louis Pasteur. Just then the train passed by the Institute Louis Pasteur and the old man got up and started getting off the train, saying to the young man: I work at that Institute. The young man said; "surely, you must be a janitor there." As he got off the train , the old man handed the young man his business card which read: "Louis" Pasteur" ,On the back of the card was a note that said: "God Created microbes, so that microbiologists may have jobs. But when the microbes went wild, in His wisdom He created an idiot like me to tame them". As the train was leaving the station, Pasteur noticed the young man on his knees, praying the rosary.

.We preach more trough our actions than through words we utter. Is it not true that so often, we misinterpret what we think we see and we compound our misunderstanding by misjudging our neighbors and God? Is it any wonder then, that so often, so many of us conclude that God is cruel?!

What tangled lives we live, when, at first we begin to deceive ourselves into believing that our bodies should have priority over our souls. We can see a clear example of that in the moral quagmire this country is in, because so many of its citizens, in their stupidity, decided to follow the Grand Pied Piper as he led the parade singing the mantra: "It's the economy, stupid!" This moral decadence will carry on well into the third millennium, across the bridge, the president is building meticulously on a morally degrading foundation.