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Sunday, October 23, 2016

It was a flash of joy against a relentless backdrop of despair. So, of course, the video of Barbara Garcia’s happy news went viral.

Just as predictably, her breathless moment of gratitude sparked debate on virtually every site I could find that posted the video.

Garcia mentioned God. That’s all it takes.

The interview clip starts with the elderly Garcia, her face dirty from debris, standing next to the pile of rubble that used to be her home in Moore, Oklahoma. Garcia describes to CBS News correspondent Anna Werner how she hid in the bathroom Monday and held her dog tightly as the tornado roared through her neighborhood. As soon as she mentions her pup, it’s clear who’s missing in the video.

“I hollered for my little dog, and he didn’t answer, or didn’t come,” she says. “I know he’s in here somewhere.”

Seconds later, it happens. Off camera, a woman says: “The dog! The dog! Hi, puppy!” Garcia turns, and the camera zooms in on the dusty face of Garcia’s terrier.

“Oh,” Garcia says. “Oh, Bowsie. Oh, Bowsie. Bless your little-bitty heart.” She reaches for the dog and asks for help to rescue him from the rubble. “Oh, Bowsie,” she says again, breathlessly. Then she says “oh” nine more times before standing up, closing her eyes and smiling.

“God,” she whispers. Then she speaks directly to the reporter. “I thought God just answered one prayer, to let me be OK,” Garcia says. “He answered both of them, because this was my second prayer.”

On most sites, including a public Facebook page on which I host discussions, the majority of people saw the video clip and shared Garcia’s moment of bliss. She had just lost her home, but her beloved dog was alive.

Just as quickly, the contrarians showed up, some of them outraged by Garcia’s claim that God had intervened. What of the 24 people who died? What of all the people who weren’t so lucky, so blessed? What kind of God cherrypicks who gets to live and who has to die?

As a person of faith, I don’t feel the outrage, but I do share the inquiry. I was overjoyed that Garcia had found her dog. She can praise God all she wants.

I do, however, wince at claims of divine intervention during tragedies. Think of all the people who are wondering why their prayers went unanswered. This is so hard.

Sometimes the media get in the act, too, offering their own mystical take on a tragedy. Just three weeks ago in Cleveland, where I live, three young women made international news after they escaped a decade of captivity in a house on the city’s west side. Lots of photo captions and headlines declared their rescue a “miracle.” God is good, friends and strangers declared.

I am a deeply flawed Christian. I want to know where God was during the past 10 years. If this had happened to my daughter, I’d want to ask God, “What were you thinking? What was the plan?”

  • Siegfried Heydrich

    Some people can simply never resist the impulse to piss in somebody else’s Cheerios . . .
    Edit: And Wolf Blitzer is a serious hack as a journalist – he’s one of the fools who makes Geraldo look vaguely competent..


    Why did God send you the friggin’ tornado in the first place?

    • It was an attack by the Obama WeatherMen Group using a torando producing weapon against Gawd-DUH firrin’ Chreeestians in Oklahmoma.

  • Lynda Groom

    I nearly fell of the chair watching Wolf make an ass of himself. Not the first time, but certainly a classic example.

  • elw

    What can you say, Blitzer is an idiot and that kind of behavior is not uncommon in religious people. They are not even worth getting in a tizzy about.

  • Michael Kollmorgen

    If god was a real as some wackoos think and IF god was so benevolent, why the hell did he send a Tornado on them.

    Or, did he send that Tornado down trying to kill every – just to sort out the good ones later on?

    Goes to show the utter stupidity of some people.

    God, thank you, I just won the Mega Lotto!

    • holyreality

      I think he is mad at Oklahoma for not bashing gays and not oppressing wimmen enough.

  • holyreality

    An Atheist makes a decision to save herself rather than crouch and pray for mercy?

    Bravo to her for her bravery; in choosing to flee as well as tell that CNN windbag she is an atheist.

  • Archie’s Boy

    One needs to be very careful what he believes. William James said that one has the right to believe anything — *at his own risk.* The big problems come when one is thoroughly convinced of something, leads his life by it — and it turns out simply not to be true. This can very often lead to a helluva comedown and a real feeling of betrayal.

    Everyone is entitled to believe whatever they want to about God (or gods). There’s no way to prove or disprove Her existence either way. For me, I believe that all the anthropomorphic God concepts from all the world’s holy books are but man’s imagination. I doubt that man’s brightest brain has the capacity to understand or grasp whether or not God exists, for the same reason your pet kitty cat is unable to read the sports page. I do believe that should She exist, Her reality and purposes extend far, far beyond man’s tiny concerns.

  • browninghipower

    I was once exposed to the ‘Idiot God” Theory…’He’ is omnipotent and omniscient, but spends all His time playing with a YoYo.

  • Budjob

    I thank God for my $7.00 an hour job,deficient healthcare,prescription drugs that I can’t afford,and the list goes on and on and on!

  • Budjob

    Lest we forget,let’s thank God for the oil companies that are gouging us at the gas pumps,the thieves on Wall Street,the banking industry that routinely fucks us,the the Captains of industry that ship our jobs to China,India,and mexico.We certainly can’t forget the speculators and our beloved lobbyists in Washington D.C.And we should thank God for all the military personnel that have died or,have been maimed defending us and all of the blessings that I have alluded to.God bless the United States of America.We’re sure as hell going to need it!