Friday, April 03, 2009

WHY DOES GOD LET THIS HAPPEN? or WHY DO PEOPLE ALLOW BAD THINGS to HAPPEN? Germany’s Responses to the 20th and 21st Century

WHY DOES GOD LET THIS HAPPEN? or WHEN DO PEOPLE ALLOW BAD THINGS To HAPPEN? Germany’s Responses to the 20th and 21st Century

By Kevin Stoda, Germany

On Wednesday evening I was watching the televised evangelical campaign here in Germany called Pro Christ 2009.

The program is sent out for eight straight evenings in the run-up to Passion Week and Easter. On Wednesday evening, the Pro Christ TV program tried to handle the more-than-difficult question: “How can God allow this to happen?”

I was struck by how current and hard-striking the message from the pastor and evangelist Ulrich Parzany was.

For example, instead of even beginning with any sort of apology, one of Parzany’s first questions to the millions of German viewers implied that we shouldn’t feel “double-crossed” by God. He did this by redirecting the question at the millions of German (and European viewers). That is, considering how Germans and their forebares had lived out the 20th century (especially in Eastern Germany from where the program has been sent all week) often in denial, the lead evangelist Parzany asked his viewers: “Why do We (people) allow bad and horrible things happen?”

This evangelical program, by the way, was being videotaped in Chemnitz, formerly known as Karl-Marx-Stadt during the time of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, 1949-1990). Karl Marx, as the evangelist Parzany also earlier in the week had indicated that religion is the opiate of the masses—implying that in our world the tendency is to take opium to relieve our pain, rather than to face the truths of the real source of our pains.

If religion really be the opiate for most people, then our world must really be one painful one which we need to be medicated from.


Parzany noted that most of us spend the great percentage of our lives living as though God doesn’t exist or that we require having only a little interaction with God and occasionally-only explore the deeper questions about life and meaning, like “Is this all there is?” or “Why do bad things happen?”

Not only had modern Germany in the 20th Century been at the center of two world wars, it had also been the home of two dictatorships spanning many generations, i.e. the Nazi Regime (1933-1945) and the East German Communist Regime (1949-1989).

In the wake of (1) a continuing lack of communal German responses of contrition and (2) the historically stalwart denial of responsibility over generations by perhaps a majority of Germans, Parzany lifted up the fact that even German political psychologists had come to call both Eastern and Western Germans (as well as Austrians) of the 20th Century and early 21st Century a “Denial Society”.

Because of this tendency towards denial in German society, even perpetrator-Germans and agnostics-of-all-sorts often join masses of Germans after each catastrophe (whether it is an economic crisis like now or a natural one, like a flood or tsunami), and ask, “Why did God let this happen?”

However, as Parzany points out, they might as well as ask the more poignant question:

“Why did we (people) allow this to happen?”

--That is, why did we sit on our hands in the run-up to the catastrophe?

--That is, why did we stand by and live out our lives while others on this planet hungered, suffered, or wallowed in painful lives?

--That is, we often choose neither[1])to have a good relationship with eternity by living each day as though an eternity matters (with a likely judgment day along the way) or[2] we put all responsibility on others in society or on God for why bad things happen to good people or why horrible things happen to so many peoples.

Meanwhile, we go on living our separate lives—opiated from the pain of masses around us.

The Pro Christ 2009 program on Wednesday night also dug into this topic of man’s relationship to eternity by inviting several actors to perform Hugo von Hofmannstahl’s classic theater piece, JEDERMAN, which can be translated as “EVERYMAN”.

The evangelist, Parzany, shared after the performance was over how he had seen a performance of JEDERMAN in Berlin several years ago and he and many in the audience appeared to be moved.
Parzany expected some of the audience to turn to repenting of how they lived their lives each day.

Yet, as each member of the impressed audience soon got over his or her having been in touch with his feelings (and finished with his pondering of judgement day as JEDERMAN had), they simply went out of the theater to live out their lives-their-way, i.e. not a single member of the German audience seemed to repent of how they had earlier lived out their lives.

Parzany charged, “It appears that after a few minutes of intellectual introspection and spiritual warming, the German audience reverted to their old ways of living only for the day and not as though either history or god would ever ask them, “Why did they do nothing as the catastrophe approached?”

Why did they not take the bull-by-the-horns when the economy collapsed? When the dictator thugs took over? When the occupiers forced them into a Cold War? When children took guns to shoot children in school? When NATO agreements took young troops to Kosovo? To Afghanistan? (and who knows where in the future?)


The drama with musical scores called EVERYMAN (JEDERMAN) was based in the tradition of Middle Age “Mystery Theater”, but it was written and developed only about 100 years ago, i.e. as the modern world began to face off in old and new parties who would first carry out two world wars, then a lengthy cold war, and finally now years of economic expansion and uncertainty as well as the collapse of various beliefs in state, in economics, and in politics.

The author of EVERYMAN, Hofmannstahl, had written a play with a simple message:


The play was written in the run up to the collapse of the Prussian, Austrian-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires. A new world order was being formed in central Europe when the piece was first performed in Sweden in the War-to-End-all-Wars.

Hofmannstahl’s storyline for EVERYMAN goes as follows:
“[A]fter two loud notes on the brass, the prologue announces that the story has a moral. Next, God declares his disappointment with the sins of humankind, and He asks Death to fetch Everyman, who will stand for mankind. The bells chime the interval of a fourth. Soon we see Everyman admiring his possessions. He turns beggars away from his door and delivers a eulogy to Mammon. His mother begs him to do penance, but Everyman is more interested in a coming celebration, which the music anticipates. Now comes the song Me kutsun saimme (We’ve received an invitation) which utilises a church mode (the Aeolian mode). Everyman has forebodings of evil, but he is cheered up with new songs.”
“During a love song Everyman once again hears the chimes sounding his death knell, and he gulps down more wine. Finally Death arrives to carry out his task. Everyman begs for somebody to accompany him on his last journey. The servants follow him, carrying his money chest, but when Death approaches the servants flee. Mammon, who rises from the money chest, has no intention of following Everyman to the grave either.”
The Pro Christ audience in Chemnitz was surely struck that Wednesday night by how current the story of JEDERMANN appears to be, i.e. as now the whole planet knows like-at-no-moment-in-recent historical memory that wealth is fleeting and we cannot often take our wealth with us into tomorrow.
As the drama and music of EVERYMAN continued, we television viewers around Germany were showed through this very popular German-language theater work that:
“Neither can Good Works - or the personification of them - help Everyman[JEDERMAN in German], since he is in such a sorry state after his sinful life. He suggests that his sister, Faith, could be the solution. With her help Everyman finally repents and prays.”
However, the Chemnitz Pro Christ audience and TV viewers are not shown this final portion of Hofmannstahl’s story. Instead, as on any evangelical occasion, every member of the audience is asked to reconsider his or her path to eternity.
What will our conclusion be in 2009?
Is repentance in our future?
What about recognition that man can not successfully pursue happiness by himself ?
Even as this very week, twenty nations met in London to offer up to a trillion dollars to ailing non-wealthy nation economies, people are not happy with the world order.
There were many protests, but as Tony Benn said on DEMOCRACY NOW recently, protests are not the action needed. What is needed is large enough pressure by individuals working in a united front to improve the world financial, development, social, and military order.
We need people who live today as though eternity and judgment of future generations matter.
Tim DeChristopher is a type of modern man we need as protests turn this weekend to Strasbourg, France.
DeChristopher was the student who protested the illegal auctioning off of America’s wilderness land in a last minute illegal move by the George W. Bush administration. DeChristopher went one step more than protesting, he intervened in a system-that had run amok. He creatively bid on property and took over control of the auction as 2008 came to an end.
The new Obama Administration has investigated the case and agreed that the auction broke all kinds of rules (but Obama is still prosecuting this man who lives consequentially).
For young DeChristopher, “Sentiment without action is the ruin of the Soul.”
Both DeChristopher and other young people see that the older codgers of the older generations have failed their grandchildren as concerns our environment, economy, and socially just models of development and livelihood.
Whether in the USA, Germany, France or elsewhere, we all need to commit ourselves to doing a lot better job of rebuilding the world in this coming decade than our forefathers and parents have.

We need to stop expanding our war machinery and alliances beyond our ability to make a peaceful and just world.

Let us not avoid asking the hard questions about a final judgment of God or history.

Let’s not be opiated by anyone.

Let’s act starting this 2009 and take over our individual responsibility and individual responsibility to our future societal members.



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