This god must be one evil mofo

This is not funny.

Five children between 9 and 16 years old died and several others suffered burns when lightning struck a white-painted metal cross set on a hill in the town of Santa Maria del Rio early on Sunday, according to two newspaper reports.

If they’d paid as much attention to science as they did to piety, though, there would be a little less grief in the world today.


  1. #1 Fredrock Flintstone
    April 30, 2006

    From the article:

    “A photo showed charring on the cross’s turquoise-painted cement base, although the cross was still standing.”

    How long before some idiot cites this aspect of the event as a “miracle?”

  2. #2 Caledonian
    April 30, 2006

    This is not funny.

    The very fact that people find it necessary to inform others that finding humor in this event is not socially acceptable is profound evidence that it is not only funny, but hilarious.

    What do you want to bet that the cross will not only be left standing, but that regular vigils for the slain will be held at that very spot — probably resulting in another group of deaths?

  3. #3 Jonathan Badger
    April 30, 2006

    Hey, we all know the dude is really into electricity — he zapped a baptist preacher just last October:

  4. #4 Blake Stacey
    April 30, 2006

    As the old proverb says, “If you see a blind man lying in the gutter, kick him. Why should you be kinder than God?”

  5. #5 ArtK
    April 30, 2006

    I must focus too much on trivia. I noticed this in the article:

    … traditional silk shawls that artisans have woven there since pre-Hispanic times.

    Silk? Pre-Hispanic time? I thought that silk wasn’t introduced to the western hemisphere until the early 17th century.

  6. #6 quork
    April 30, 2006

    How long before some idiot cites this aspect of the event as a “miracle?”

    Why indeed it is a miracle! Since those children were taken in the act of praying, we may rest assured that they will be admitted without complications at the Pearly Gates. We should all rejoice for them.

  7. #7 cp
    April 30, 2006

    I bet they’ll say it was a sign to the locals. Lightning stroke their chilren to punish them for their sins, so they should repent and do something about it asap, like building a chapel where the cross will be hosted…

  8. #8 Blake Stacey
    April 30, 2006

    ArtK wrote:

    Silk? Pre-Hispanic time? I thought that silk wasn’t introduced to the western hemisphere until the early 17th century.

    I thought so too. Googling for pre-Columbian silk doesn’t bring up anything useful, though there is a considerable nutball factor in the results because the Book of Mormon apparently mentions “silk”, and any evidence that said Book is historically inaccurate must of course be debated hotly. According to a Smithsonian statement, “Iron, steel, glass, and silk were not used in the New World before 1492 (except for occasional use of unsmelted meteoric iron).” Maybe the shawls weren’t always silk?

  9. #9 Blake Stacey
    April 30, 2006

    It is interesting to note that many of the Google hits for “”Santa Maria del Rio” silk shawl” point to this news article and mirrors thereof. Maybe God proving he’s a mean mofo is more interesting than traditional Mexican weaving techniques?

    From a Phoenix Art Museum website:

    One of the most unique garments is the rebozo, or shawl. The most famous rebozos, made of silk or artisela (a silk-like cellulose thread) and colored with natural dyes, are woven on backstrap looms in Santa Maria del Rio, San Luis Potosí. The State of Michoacán is known for its shiny striped rebozos, made from cotton and artisela. In Tenancingo, State of Mexico, artists create laborcitas (rebozos that require considerable labor), and combinados (rebozos that have a combination of complex designs).

    I think the style of manufacture is old, but the use of real silk instead of cotton is relatively new. In this ad-laden article, we read the following:

    Soon after the Spaniards arrived, they insisted that the Mexican women wear a head covering for entering the churches. Out of this necessity combined with the Spaniards’ imported weaving skills came the rebozo (the word comes from the verb rebozar, meaning to cover up), a multi-purpose covering initially woven of just cotton and then later on also of silk and wool, and still to this day a symbol of mexicanidad worn proudly by Mexican women of all social standings.

    So it all comes back to religious oppression after all. Hah!

  10. #10 Steve Sutton
    April 30, 2006

    Now, how could there possibly be any danger from gathering around a tall, metal object on top of a hill, with thunderstorms in the area?

  11. #11 The Science Pundit
    April 30, 2006

    I couldn’t help but think of that scene from Caddyshack where the preacher goes out to play golf in a thunderstorm and gets fried.

  12. #12 woofsterNY
    April 30, 2006

    Mel Brooks’ 2000-year-old man said “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you don’t look where you’re going, and fall in a hole, and die.”

    Probably few think it’s funny when people die. But it can be funny the WAY they die – that’s why these things make it into the news. It’s why we have the Darwin Awards, and why we laugh at them. I imagine an element of whistling past the graveyard — we laugh to keep from thinking about how it could happen to us. And I’d bet this type of reaction is as old as our earliest apelike ancestors.

    There was a story that came across my desk a couple of years ago about a Christian minister and his whole family on vacation in their station wagon. A tree fell across the highway and killed the lot of them. The story had this keenly paradoxical juxtaposition of two ideas — “minister of god” alongside “killed by act of god.”

    I honestly couldn’t help chuckling about it.

    Hey, we’re complex critters, confusing and confused — I think it’s almost impossible for most of us to HAVE a single (or the expected) reaction to an important event. People smile in the midst of funerals. They feel sad in the midst of merriment. And sometimes … they laugh in the midst of tragedy.

  13. #13 Left_Wing_Fox
    April 30, 2006

    “I’m glad you can find the humour in the situaion”

    “I’m not smiling, I’m grimacing”

  14. #14 DOF
    April 30, 2006

    I sure hope someone finds something ironic or funny about my death. A boring death seems almost unbearable.

  15. #15 The Science Pundit
    April 30, 2006

    “I sure hope someone finds something ironic or funny about my death. A boring death seems almost unbearable.”

    “Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true.
    You’ll see it’s all a show,
    Keep ’em laughing as you go,
    Just remember that the last laugh is on you!”
    –Eric Idle

  16. #16 SEF
    April 30, 2006

    It was the repeated lightning strikes on churches which convinced some of the European clergy that maybe this reality-based science stuff had something going for it after all. Unfortunately, many people don’t appear to be capable of learning from other people’s experience – at least not consistently.

  17. #17 Virge
    April 30, 2006

    Humour involving pain is usually funnier if the target is seen as deserving. In this case, I find it hard to view these children (between 9 and 16 years old) as deserving of any pain. They’ve been brought up in a cult that deliberately shields them from understanding how their behaviour is based on a fabrication.

    A hellfire and brimstone preacher being struck by lightning just after he’s pronounced God’s wrath for the depraved… that is funny. The deaths of brainwashed children aren’t (for me).

  18. #18 John M Price
    April 30, 2006

    The machinations surrounding theodicy are always hilarious. Such stupidity should always be pointed out. I can’t wait to see what comes of this one. (Miraculous not all were killed?)

    That said, killing kids is always a tragedy in and of itself.

  19. #19 Pseudo-Buddhaodiscordo-Pastafarian
    May 1, 2006

    This is not funny

    I agree heavily. However, I told this story to some people I know said it was ‘divine retribution for extreme stupidity’ and found it hilarious. Had it been the people who put it up, I might agree; but it was a bunch of kids that didn’t know any better, that probably weren’t old enough to understand that a big metal pole in the middle of a thunderstorm is something to stay far away from.

  20. #20 ktesibios
    May 1, 2006

    If that cross has been standing for any length of time, it’s probably been struck before- arc gaps are a pretty reliable bit of hardware.

    If so, we’re not just talking about ignorance of how the physical universe works, we’re talking about ignoring object lessons from the immediate past. That’s quite a feat of dumbnitude.

  21. #21 Caledonian
    May 1, 2006

    Just think of the agony of the parents, who sent their precious children off to die.

    Then it’s a lot funnier.

  22. #22 ambulocetus
    May 1, 2006

    OK, maybe thats not funny, but this sure is:

    I dare you to watch the whole thing.

  23. #23 Keith Douglas
    May 2, 2006

    ambulocetus has illustrated yet another reason for why the Internet is so double edged when it comes to learning stuff.

  24. #24 NatureSelectedMe
    May 2, 2006

    I’ll remember this thread when you post your soldier “baby” pictures. Are you getting ready to post 2405 of them? No? It’s not in fashion to care unless it’s a round number? You’re a real caring person, PZ. I can see that.

  25. #25 decorative concrete
    January 2, 2010

    I sw ths rlly grt pst tdy.

  26. #26 decorative concrete
    January 2, 2010

    wtch Th dy th rth std stll nln

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.