If God saved the childcare centre, why didn’t he save the husband and father too?

In the print edition of the Dominion Post this morning was a story about the construction worker who was killed by the tornado in Auckland. It seems that he was a loving husband and father who was working hard to support his family. The story is on-line here: Tornado victim ‘a very good family man’. In the print edition, it’s accompanied by a photo of Mr Dacayan, together with his wife Jeanette, and their children. It’s a happy shot – they are laughing and smiling.

Newspaper clipping

On the same page, there’s a story about a childcare centre which the tornado missed.

Unscathed childcare centre God’s will, say workers

Workers at an early childcare centre say it was “God’s will” that a deadly Auckland tornado only grazed the side of the building with 60 children inside.

So many things wrong with this.

I have no doubt that the childcare centre worker who attributed the narrow escape to God’s will was sincere in her belief, and in the aftermath of the shock, reacting from her heart. But if it was “God’s will” to save the childcare centre, then it must have been God’s will not to save the husband and father who was killed.

I can understand why the childcare centre worker would reach for her faith in a moment like this. What I can’t understand is why the newspaper subbies were so callous in their handling of this story. Take a look at that newspaper layout again. The headline giving god the glory for saving the childcare centre is right underneath the picture of the Dacayan family. The take home message: it was god’s will that Mr Dacayan should be killed by the tornado.

I think that is cruel. As Personal Failure has said, Sometimes, you need to think about what you are saying.

My sympathy to the Dacayan family in this difficult time.


10 comments on “If God saved the childcare centre, why didn’t he save the husband and father too?

  1. Mindy says:

    My sympathy to the family and my unimpressed email to the Dominion Post.

  2. So well said, I thought the same thing myself, heartless journalism. My heart goes out to the Dacayan family.

  3. Boganette says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Well said. I think the overall coverage of the tornado has been terrible – there were really, really graphic comments about Mr Dacayan’s injuries including really detailed descriptions. I wonder if people know what it’s like to read that kind of thing about your loved one. It’s horrendous. His private moments – his dying – were broadcast in all the papers. I think it’s so unethical to print that stuff. It must have been so painful for his family to read that.

  4. Religious people do this a lot, and it’s just awful. Thing is, it’s become such an accepted trope (the selective aspect of divine intervention) that we’ve forgotten how it looks and sounds. I do like that aspect of Stoicism: it asks people who say stuff like that if they’ve ever paused to consider how they look and sound.

    Getting people to give up their belief in selective divine intervention is, I suspect, difficult. Getting those same people to think before they open their great flapping gobs by making them consider about how they present may be a bit more doable.

  5. TimT says:

    Not sure I agree with the argument here – the faulty thinking doesn’t necessarily lie with the believers:

    – There is nothing selective about divine intervention. EVERYBODY dies: it’s just a matter of when. If we’re talking strictly Christian theology, then even God died, before being resurrected.

    – And again, at least in the context of Christian theology (other theologies too, though Christianity is pretty much the reference point for our culture) death comes in a greater context, involving the continuation of the soul beyond the point of death. This does not necessarily lessen the seriousness of any individual death, but it certainly changes its meaning. Interpretations in this context are more difficult but could obviously range from the Very Bad (‘They’ve gone to HELL!’) to the Very Good (‘They’ve gone to HEAVEN!’) And with many more, er, nuanced positions in between.

    So perhaps there is a habit for believers to be selective when referring to divine intervention, but the atheist refutation strikes me as being a bit selective as well.

  6. Tim, have you paused to consider how that argument looks and sounds? To, perhaps, the Dacayan family?

    Thanks for making my point for me. In spades.

  7. TimT says:

    SL, okay, fine. I probably should have been more sensitive about the context in which I made this comment.

  8. Gravey Dice says:

    While I fully agree with you, there is one thought that only just crossed my mind. If both the childcare centre and the Dacayan family are devout Christians, then the “God’s will” works regardless of the outcome.

    The idea of it being “God’s will” can give the devout a sense of comfort. That it wasn’t just a tragic, freak accident. But it was something designed, where some benign power chose certain events to occur.

    But as you say, the handling of the whole thing by the paper is just appalling. And it would only be OK (in my view) if both parties shared the “God’s will” view. If they don’t (or if one doesn’t know whether the other shares it) then it is insensitive in the extreme.

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