“The beast from the East” – Some religious reflections

Today large parts of Scotland are shut down because of snow. There have fallen about 3cm of snow and there are -4° – even if it feels colder due to the wind. To experience temperatures and weather like this should not be a large surprise in a country that is at about the same geographical latitude as Denmark or the south of Sweden. But the results of the weather are closed schools in large part of the country and heavy travel disruptions. Interfaith Scotland’s office stays closed today, because of the weather, too.

But this blog should not mainly be about the question if it was justified or not to cancel and shut down all the schools and offices, but rather about what this events tell us how people deal with the weather. From my point of view there are some very religious elements in it.

26 - snow2

From the very beginning of human history weather was a very important part of human live, because humans were heavy relying on the weather conditions. To less rain (usually not a problem in the UK) can be as livethreatening as to much, the same is to say about sunshine and temperatures. Because of that were weather gods and goddesses an important part of early religions. Even JHWH the god who became later the god of Judaism and Christianity was in very early stages of religious history probably a god responsible for rain and thunderstorms.

Even today some thousand years later the weather is something we humans can’t control. In earlier times people asked their priest, prophets and seers about the future, today we check the weather and several times a day with forecasts in TV, Radio, Internet and our weather apps and the weather is probably the most popular small talk theme (Will there be a white Christmas? Are we having a “real” summer? Isn’t it to hot/cold/wet/dry?). Of course it is good to have all those possibilities to get informed, because in the end it really can save lives!

That our obsession with the weather even today is somehow religious shows the name that was giving to the actual weather system “The beast from the east”. A name that could as well come from the book of Apocalypse in the bible or some kind of ancient mythology. It shows that the weather is something we still can’t control and that we at least partly experience as threatening.

26 - snow1

But how deal we with weather like this “snowstorm” religiously? From a monotheistic point of view is obvious that god must at least tolerate such events to happen and be in the end responsible for them by having created the world in a way that snow storms exist. From a nontheistic point of view the storm might be a challenge but not be caused of a higher power and from a polytheistic point of view there would be at least the possibility that some (evil?) god has caused the storm. Nevertheless an adequate reaction to the snow, independent of one particular background, would be to care for everyone who is especially suffering in those conditions. I’m mainly thinking about people living on the streets, who are not as lucky as I am to have a warm place to live in. I’m also thinking about everyone who has a flat, but maybe not enough money to heat it or to have a hot meal and hot drinks. I’m hoping that everyone of them has at least one person who cares for them during this harsh weather and that humanity doesn’t get defeated by “The Beast from the East”.


Author: Simon Interfaith Scotland

I'm an intern at Interfaith Scotland and Interfaith Scotland from July 2017 to June 2018. I'm from Germany and I've been training to become a minister in the protestant church of Germany. In Summer 2018 I'm getting ordained and starting to work as a minister in a parish in Germany.

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