This weekend, while the air hung heavy with ash, there was a battle between alt-right and alt-left protesters in Portland. The scene was something out of post-WWI Germany, with violence in the streets and the police letting the two groups of thugs beat each other up. I have little sympathy with either the radicals of the left or the radicals of the right, not being a person inclined to revolutionary violence and being sufficiently eccentric and outspoken to make myself a pretty obvious target in any unfree regime. Both sides of protesters are of the kind that is content to see the country burn so long as they are able to bring their revolution into being. Since I am far more concerned about the well-being of the people at large than any sort of ideology, I simply try to avoid such people and such situations as much as possible.
Why was there ash in the air? I wondered this morning what was up when I walked outside to see a coat of something on my car that looked suspiciously like soot. A bit of research led me to discover that the Columbia River Gorge is on fire, thanks apparently to some firecracks from a couple of youth whose efforts have set ablaze a large portion of the forest from the area of Troutdale east a fair bit, a fire that has jumped over the Colombia River and is now going in Washougal as well. Nor is Oregon the only state suffering from fire woes, as the West as a whole is bone dry and a tinder box that is being set ablaze one state and one area at a time. Much of the area as gone without much rain all summer long and the extended heat waves and a bit of carelessness and blind chance have made things dangerous for many people. To be sure, this is not my first experience with wildfires, far from it, but it is not an experience I personally relish, being a person who is somewhat sensitive to air conditions .
Meanwhile, while dealing with a forest fire that sadly does not smell like a tasty BBQ, I have been concerned about the news on the hurricane front. Just a few days after many friends and acquaintances of mine dealt with massive flooding as a result of the soon-to-be-retired Hurricane Harvey, a category 5 hurricane with the unfriendly name of Irma is now bearing down on the northern part of the Leeward Islands The forecast for this storm takes it to the north of the Greater Antilles and sends it into the Gulf of Mexico by the end of the week to do damage to Florida and the eastern Gulf Coast. It is a somewhat surreal experience to be dealing with the shortage of rain in one part of the country while reflecting on the fact that there is far too much of it in other parts . One looks at the photos of Florida grocery stores being completely emptied by people looking to make their last minute hurricane preparations and the logistics networks being unable to cope with such a change, and one thinks about the fact that civilization is a rather narrow achievement in such times as we have.
It is in times like these that I think of the conditional promises made to Israel in Leviticus 26:3-5: “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.” Let us note that this is a conditional promise from one of the two blessings and curses chapter (the other one being Deuteronomy 28), and the absence of the proper amount of rain in the proper times at the proper locations, especially when this is not an isolated situation but a regular pattern, signifies a warning sign for us to pay attention to. But will we shake our head at the sky and call such disasters an act of God rather than an opportunity to reflect on why such disasters are coming upon us?
 See, for example:
 See, for example: