Monday, January 19, 2009

Miracle on the Hudson (edited)

is, of course, a misnomer.

By the Bray of Fundie

No laws of nature were superseded in the landing of the plane nor in the rescuing of the passengers. No one's rational sensibilities were hurt in the making of this miracle. But as we live in an era that is skeptical of the supranational we have come to use the word "miracle" imprecisely. While a miracle means to do the impossible we use the word to mean doing the highly improbable. Thus the near-miraculous becomes, presto, change-o : the miraculous.

And while Sully himself would be hard-pressed to repeat his derring-do, rapid cool decision making and aviation virtuosity a second time, the ease with which we throw around the "M" word is a sad commentary on our society. What we REALLY found highly improbable was the competency and personal bravery that informed the safe landing and rescue of US Air flight 1549. That people in positions of great responsibility and that equipment and machinery should actually work as they were assigned and designed to is shocking and, in our expectations, improbable to the point of near impossibility.

What really rankles is that the imprecise language feeds the Qefira that "open" miracles are myths and fairy tales. There are millions of Jews out there who believe that the Biblical account of the parting of the Sea of Reeds (if it happened at all) was the confluence of a "perfect storm" of perfectly natural causes, an earthquake combined with a hurricane, or a perfectly timed Tsunami et al. For such folks any historical miracle for which no natural cause or confluence of causes can be found is, by definition, ahistorical. When you begin to call the highly improbable (yet natural) miraculous then you begin to doubt the historicity and future coming of the truly miraculous impossible.

Buy Dov's book. (please)
Buy the other guy's book. (please)
Buy Mrs. Bear a gift (please)

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