Back when I was doing my Leaving Cert English course Shakespeare’s King Lear was on the curriculum. I’m not sure was it my teacher at the time or a textbook but one of the phrases used was “pathetic fallacy”. It referred to Shakespeare’s use of the weather in the play to reflect the action on the ground. At the height of the worst tragedies that fell on King Lear the storms raged the worst:
“Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drenched our teeples, drowned the cocks!
You sulphurour and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
Crack nature’s molds, all germens spill at once
That make ingrateful man!”
King Lear, Act 3, Scene 2 by William Shakespeare
So the now forgotten commentator called this kind of matching of the elements to the moral events on the ground “pathetic fallacy”.
The attitude that such connections are pathetic lies is now so ingrained into our thinking that anyone who even remotely suggests in our “enlightened” western humanist society that God might have something to do with the weather is likely to face the worst of scorn. And, indeed, caution is always advised when attributing any specific elemental actions (e.g. fires, earthquakes, floods, droughts, etc.) directly to God’s judgments especially at macro levels like nations (notwithstanding the fact that these acts are all called “Acts of God” for insurance and other purposes).
However, the bible is quite clear that God is in control of the weather whatever we might be told by English teachers or otherwise. Here is one example taken from Zechariah chapter 10 in the Old Testament:
“Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime;
it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms.
He gives showers of rain to all people,
and plants of the field to everyone.”
I have a number of reasons for drawing attention to this current drought and asking the question: “Is God judging Ireland?”
One of the reasons is that I woke up with a vivid dream this morning. In it, I was in a train travelling through the hills along the coast. It could have been from Greystones to Bray or somewhere similar. On hills away from the coast fires were breaking out all over. There was a solitary fire man fighting one of them. I didn’t see any houses go up in flames just gorse and hedges. But there were a lot of fires and not enough firemen.
To be fair, you wouldn’t have to be much of a prophet to predict that in this weather in this country.
We are all enjoying the fine weather. Ireland is known for its rain during the summer or indeed at any time of the year and so any respite from rain is usually welcomed by the majority of the people. However when it comes to judging nations the bible does have quite a lot to say. Usually judgement comes in the form of an invading force but in Zechariah chapter 14 there is this verse:
“If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain.“
The context in this case is (probably) the millennium rule of Christ on the earth which (probably) has yet to happen. However the principle is the same: When God holds back rain it is not a good thing.