By now most people are aware that the East Coast of the United States experienced a rare earthquake earlier this week. Social media caused news of the quake to spread almost instantly. Of course, had the folks who run San Francisco’s BART system been in charge, they no doubt would have shut all cell phone service down, but that’s a story for another time.
Thankfully, it seems that damage was relatively light when compared to what it might have been and injuries were mostly minor. We learned a couple of things from this earthquake. The first is that folk on the East Coast need to be better educated about what to do when an earthquake hits. Apparently, one isn’t supposed to run out into the street when an earthquake hits but rather stay in the building. That’s not a criticism. As a Midwesterner I wouldn’t have known to do anything differently, but the New Madrid fault notwithstanding, you folk on the coasts can have your hurricanes and earthquakes and I’ll roll the dice with an occasional tornado.
One of the most absurd items I saw after the earthquake was a post on Facebook by some self-appointed spiritual teacher who claimed that:
“Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Tsunamis, and Flash Floods. When nature is catastrophic, it is a mirror reflecting the image of the war-like attitude among humanity. Natural disasters are not CAUSE [sic] within themselves, neither acts of any god; but rather EFFECTS of global attitude.”
That’s right folks, you heard it here second. In his poor syntax, this man would have you believe that natural disasters are caused by our bad attitudes – not by gravity and atmospheric conditions, not by subterranean stresses, not by weather systems, but by human attitudes. This is the kind of airy-fairy nonsense that gives spirituality a bad name.
It is a profound kind of magical thinking that believes that there are spiritual laws that exist in the universe that cannot be changed, but that the physical laws of the universe can be changed, manipulated, and even avoided by spiritual means. Progressive spirituality is full of that kind of nonsense, even as those same progressive, self-appointed spiritual gurus would deny that it was possible for the earth to stop rotating during the battle of Jericho and still maintain its gravity. Which one is it? If I intentionally drop my pencil one thousand times while holding the spiritual intention that it rise higher into the air, will it not still hit the floor one thousand times because of the law of gravity? Does nature get angry because humankind has a bad attitude and so “send” earthquakes to Virginia? If I wish hard enough that I will get a horse overnight, will I wake up to ride tomorrow?
One of the less than stellar aspects of the Internet is that just about any clown can declare him or herself a spiritual teacher, start pulling teachings out of a hat (or some body part), and post them anywhere and everywhere. It seems the more you post, the more credible some people think you are. Many of them adopt some sort of nonsensical name to create an aura of holiness, but vacuous teachings are vacuous teachings even if I call myself Sri Sri Rabbi Imam Guru Father Shizzle Dizzle Hoopla.
Here’s a good rule of thumb for fishing, dating, and choosing a spiritual teacher: If it smells bad, throw it back.