Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Full-frontal impact: Mexico and Belize

Sadly, after skirting several islands in the Caribbean, Dean has now strengthened to Category 5 (165 mph winds, gusts to 200 mph; according to Weather Underground this morning) and has had a direct impact on the Yucatan Peninsula, just north of Belize.

According to a current AP report:

The eye of the storm made landfall about 4:30 a.m. EDT near Majahual, a popular port with cruise liners located about 40 miles east-northeast of Chetumal and the Belize border, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Dean packed winds near 165 mph and was moving west-northwest near 20 mph across the Yucatan peninsula, on course to reach by Tuesday evening the southern Bay of Campeche, where state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos decided Monday to shut down production on the offshore rigs that extract most of the nation's oil . . .

Our prayers must go out to the people of Mexico and neighbouring Belize, and to those of Texas who are potentially threatened by its onward path. Later, we should reach out with help and comfort. (Perhaps, here, we can concentrate on northern Belize, given the vast difference in capacity between Mexico and Belize.) END

Some good news - relatively speaking -- from Mexico, courtesy MSNBC:
. . . The eye of the storm made landfall around 4:30 a.m. EDT [= Eastern Caribbean Time, or GMT - 4 hrs] near Majahual, a port popular with cruise liners and about 40 miles east-northeast of Chetumal and the Belize border, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Dean's path was a stroke of luck for Mexico: It made landfall in a sparsely populated coastline that had already been evacuated, skirting most of the major tourist resorts. The maximum sustained winds had dropped to 125 mph and the hurricane center predicted more weakening as it crosses the Yucatan . . . .

Dean was the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall since Hurricane Andrew in 1992 in South Florida, the [U.S. National] hurricane center said.

Thank God for small mercies . . .

PS: Many people, facing the raw impact and pain of tragedies or disasters, are understandably forced to ask "why?" Others, often see occasions of great disaster, as times to debate over perennial issues such as the problem of evil.

For the first, we need to reach out with comfort and prayer and help; they face a problem of distress and need to receive loving care.
And, that is part of our remit as those who serve God, to be his arms and hearts of loving care in a world that is not all that it was created to be, and which is under the process of redemption and restoration through Christ.

For the latter, they should first know that the deductive form of the problem of evil is -- after Plantinga's successful free-will defence -- an adequately answered objection to the God of the Bible.

(The inductive form of the problem remains as a challenge, but in the end such a question is an issue of seeking the best explanation across live option worldviews relative to what one experiences and understands. Thus, it too is more an issue for seeing the loving redeemer in action, and coming to trust him even where one cannot trace him, than of a matter of debate. So, let us postpone debates for a time, and simply reach out with prayer and comfort under the loving God who personally entered into our suffering so that he could draw the poison running in our veins into his, to give us his own pure health, freedom and purity. [For those who need to look at it seriously as an intellectual question, Campus Crusade's Leadership U has an excellent collection of resources here.])

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