September 28, 2011

The Contented Atheist: On the Weather

Tom Skilling. Best weatherman in the world, prophet, and all around nice guy.
In modern society we have, for the most part, insulated ourselves from the temperamental bitch that is mother nature. Sure, sometimes she gets hormonal and knocks the shit out of us, but in our day-to-lives she is at most an annoyance. In our corner of the world mothers don't have nightmares in the fall because they are worried about their children freezing to death in the winter. If the rivers rise, we have flood insurance. Some, who aren't superstitious about getting hit by lightning, might even go so far as to say we've conquered nature (not me of course).

After living most of my life isolated from the effects of the weather, I always thought the idea that religion was created by people who were trying to make sense of the chaotic weather to be intuitively off. Part of the reason, sure, but not completely. I always leaned towards the idea that religion was started to help legitimize the leaders of society. Then again, that's what you'd probably expect a former political science major to think. This summer I did some roofing on the weekends and I have to say it may have changed my opinion some. Once you get to know people in the trade you come to find they are completely obsessed with the weather. For good reason, too. A week of rain means a week without pay.

I was talking to one of my roofing buddies yesterday about how much trouble this lingering rain is giving him. Basically, it's the end of the month, the rent is due in a few days, money problems lead to marital problems and for some reason these dark clouds just won't go away. He said he almost feels like he's being punished for something. It's irrational, but when times are tough, making that leap is understandable. The vast majority of us have done something that we believe we should be punished for. Guilt is an emotion we've all experienced. It eats at you, it is silent, and many times justice and/or forgiveness never come to bring us closure.

Combine our own need for punishment with seemingly random, punishing storms, throw in a god of thunder for good measure and you can see how religion might come about. It's just another way to make sense of an unpredictable world. If it wasn't for Tom Skilling on Channel 9, I wouldn't be able to figure any of this out either. Actually, I need to tune in tonight because I'm really curious as to why the hell the clouds have been going backwards all week. To hell with Zeus, I've got Tom. The closest thing you'll find to a deity in Chicago. Somehow, that kind of makes sense.

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8 comments:

  1. One of the things I hate the most: waking up and finding that it is a) raining or b)had just rained, and the ground is al wet. And everything just looks depressing. It petty much ruins my day.

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  2. The people who think we've conquered Mother Nature clearly don't believe in climate change. But how can you disbelieve random East coast earthquakes and hurricanes galore?

    Backwards clouds? That sounds creepy.

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  3. Every day at right around quitting time, it starts to rain where I am. If that isn't punishment, I don't know what is.

    Lor

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  4. Not sure I like the comparison of Mother Nature to a "hormonal bitch," but anyway, the weather can have such a profound effect on people's lives, I bet. I feel for the construction works out on really hot days. There ought to be some sort of insurance or protection for people when it's just not right outside for them to work.

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  5. I hadn't really thought about it like that before. I have friends that work jobs which are greatly impacted by the weather, but somehow it never crossed my mind.

    On another note... A friend of mine just moved from Chicago to Nevada, and its interesting because its almost as if her and I are from different planets. Love her to death. But anyway, your post made me think about the different planets all us bloggers live on. Planets, cities, whatever :)

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  6. I saw the god of Thunder the other night. Catholic guilt runs deep. I shouldn't even be speaking with the god of Thunder, but I got a little bored with the god of Sun (this summer was just too damn beautiful), and went astray. Looks like I'm going to have to church this Sunday. Ugh. ;)

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  7. I love the rain in the fall when it's still warm, especially those moments just after when it's so quiet.

    Little nerdy thing I learned from a weather service dude - he said the US only sends up 69 balloons a day in the whole country - no wonder our weatherpeeps are always wrong!

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  8. Agreed, sometimes we need something bigger than ourselves to explain what happens to us. we must all be philosophical to some extent because we can't rest without an answer to the question "why?". It's hard to conceive the possibility that sometimes, life is just what it is: a series of random events that are capable of influencing other events and in turn people.

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