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The Briefing, Friday, October 26, 2012

TODAY: Hurricane Sandy, a deadly shark attack, and controversy over a U.S. Senate candidate’s comments on rape and abortion. I discuss all these in today’s edition of The Briefing: A Daily Analysis of News and Events from a Christian Worldview.

Churning off the nation’s Atlantic coast, Hurricane Sandy threatens to be another “prefect storm,” with forecasters warning that the massive storm could hit the U.S. East Coast early next week. In the official words of the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (yes, there is such an organization), “chances are increasing for a major storm impacting the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.” Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage as it hit the island of Cuba and then crossed the Bahamas. An unusual combination of factors indicates a significant risk that the storm could constitute a deadly threat to the Atlantic coast, bringing memories of 1991′s infamous “perfect storm.”

As I explain, these storms reveal the severe limitations of our human power in a fallen world. New technologies allow us to follow and even predict the course of these storms, but we have no power over them. Sandy is the 18th named storm of the 2012 hurricane season, and a 19th (Tropical Storm Tony) has already appeared. These storms make us yearn for the New Creation promised in Christ.

Similarly, news this week that a large great white shark had attacked and killed a surfer off the California coast reminds us of the fact that there are creatures on the planet that would kill and even eat us. This latest tragedy took place at the very spot on the California coast where another surfer was killed by a great white shark just two years ago. Warning signs to this effect did not deter the surfer killed this past Tuesday. USA Today reported that California, Hawaii, and Florida are where most U.S. shark attacks take place, with Florida at the top of the list in frequency of attacks.  George Burgess of the Florida Program for Shark Research explained, “It’s a great place to be a shark, it’s a great place to be a human in the water, and it’s simply a matter of the odds.” Statisticians tell us that we are more likely to be seriously injured on the toilet in the bathroom then attacked by a shark in the ocean, but shark attacks capture our imagination and marshall our fears.

Clearly, it is not yet safe for the lion and the lamb to rest together.

Finally, I deal at length with the controversy surrounding comments made this week by U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock in Indiana. The Republican caused an explosion in the media and the 2012 presidential race when he defended his belief that human life begins at conception and then said, “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God . . . . And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

The media and the Obama campaign pounced on the comments, declaring that Mourdock had called rape “something that God intended to happen.” Clearly, Mourdock was referring to the gift of life as what God intended, but his words quickly became cannon fodder in the political campaign. I discuss why the controversy happened, and what it means. Furthermore, I discuss the issue of exceptions for abortion and suggest that pro-lifers had better learn to make the argument for full human dignity more effectively.

At the end of the day, however, this controversy was not merely a problem of failed communication. The fight for life continues, even as the 2012 campaign will soon end.

I deal at length with this controversy in my article published this morning, “The Mourdock Moment: Life, Death, and Lies on the Campaign Trail.” Read it here.

All these are discussed in today’s edition of The Briefing. Listen here: