The Utility of Storms

Christopher Christian Sturm on “The Utility of Storms” (July 11): The Reflections on the Works of God in Nature and Providence for Every Day of the Year, tr. Adam Clarke (Baltimore, 1822) 322-23.

“We should consider the phenomena of nature so, that the wisdom and goodness of our heavenly Father may be clearly apprehended by our understanding, and make the deepest impression upon our heart: and this duty should appear to us the more indispensable, because it is so much neglected by a multitude of inattentive, ignorant, and ungrateful people. It is true, that God sometimes makes use of natural phenomena to punish the sins of men: but these particular cases do not prove that he does not propose chiefly, and in general, the benefit and welfare of the whole.

Universal nature affords incontestable proofs of this. At present, let us consider a single phenomenon, which is well calculated to convince us of this; and concerning which, we have great need to have our ideas rectified. Are we not, in general, accustomed from our youth to pronounce the words, thunder and lightning, with terror? Such is our injustice, that we never think but on those extremely rare cases, in which tempests have been prejudicial to a very small part of the universe: we shut our eyes against the great advantages which result from them to the whole of the creation. Alas! we should soon change our tone, if God, irritated by our murmuring and ingratitude, were to deprive us of the blessings which thunder and lightning produce. It is true, we are not capable of pointing out all the advantages resulting from them: but the little which we know may suffice to fill our hearts with gratitude toward our great Benefactor.”

Hmm. What about Desert Storms—and Shock and Awe? Sounds a little like what Naomi Klein calls the “disaster capitalism” of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School—and the Jaws of Bouche and Hell-he-burnt-on (The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism). Can you hear, can you hear the thunder?

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