Pharyngula

I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news for Clara Jean Brown.

Worried about the safety of her family during a stormy Memorial Day trip to the beach, Clara Jean Brown stood in her kitchen and prayed for their safe return as a strong thunderstorm rumbled through Baldwin County, Alabama.

But while she prayed, lightning suddenly exploded, blowing through the linoleum and leaving a blackened area on the concrete. Brown wound up on the floor, dazed and disoriented by the blast but otherwise uninjured.

She said ‘Amen’ and the room was engulfed in a huge ball of fire. The 65-year-old Brown said she is blessed to be alive.

The bad news is that God hates her and is trying to kill her. The good news is that he’s gotten incompetent in his dotage. I mean, lightning and a fireball? And both missed? Hey, God, here’s a suggestion: next time, use Magic Missile. It doesn’t do as much damage, but it never misses, and heck, she’s a little old lady—she probably doesn’t have much in the way of hit points.

(via Phil)

Comments

  1. #1 gravitybear
    May 31, 2006

    Magic Missle?! *snort*
    One of my favorite spells of all time!

  2. #2 Miguelito
    May 31, 2006

    Comet Fall is my personal favourite.

  3. #3 Peiter
    May 31, 2006

    She is blessed? By whom, Satan? Or was it Satan who threw lightning her way? Religious people confuse me…

  4. #4 Bronze Dog
    May 31, 2006

    Wow. I don’t even have to make a D&D or other gaming reference. PZ is truly one of us, one of us, one of us.

    Who’d have thunk an old lady would have the evasion class feature? If not magic missile, God should use a spell that doesn’t allow a reflex save. Probably something with a Will save, since she probably doesn’t have much of that.

  5. #5 AgonThalia
    May 31, 2006

    The good news/ bad news thing reminds me of the old show “The Critic” where movie review Jay Sherman says “my therapist was right, God does hate me.”

    and maybe the whole rapture things is just a modified “mass teleport” spell, and judging by god’s casting ability, there could be thousands of christians accidentally teleporting into the vacuum of space, or into the sun. (oops)

  6. #6 Bronze Dog
    May 31, 2006

    It’s probably more like Plane Shift. The question is, is Heaven big enough to accomodate people being poofed in 5d100 miles off target?

  7. #7 No One Of Consequence
    May 31, 2006

    …Plus at God’s supposed level, he would get multiple Magic Missiles to hit her with. Even rolling all 1’s, I would think he would be able to kill her.

  8. #8 Jake B. Cool
    May 31, 2006

    My favorite is the Meteor Swarm spell found in Planescape:Torment, where you actually get to watch from the Meteor’s point of view.

    At least, living in Alabama, she was probably safe from a Cone of Cold spell.

  9. #9 Seth Gordon
    May 31, 2006

    If only her family had been praying for her

  10. #10 cution
    May 31, 2006

    This confirms the results of that prayer experiment, that it’s actually harmful.

  11. #11 Kristine
    May 31, 2006

    So that’s the cause, then.

    Everybody, stop praying! Stop NOW!

  12. #12 Tsiatko
    May 31, 2006

    Reminds me of the old National Lampoon spoof of the “Watchtower” magazine whose headline read:

    “Floods, Tornados, Hurricanes- are they part of God’s plan or is he just clumbsy?”

  13. #13 Vitis
    May 31, 2006

    I wonder if Clerics ever find it disturbing that their god uses Wizard spells?

  14. #14 Vitis
    May 31, 2006

    Wait, what am I thinking? God is obviously multi-classed. Duh!

  15. #15 Jormungandr
    May 31, 2006

    “…Plus at God’s supposed level, he would get multiple Magic Missiles to hit her with. Even rolling all 1’s, I would think he would be able to kill her.”

    Only if she has less than 10 HPs (maximum of 5 missiles, 1d4+1 each)…
    …and she dosn’t stabilize as she bleeds to death…
    …and God does not have the Maximize Spell feat…

    …damn, I’m a geek… πŸ˜‰

    I attack the darkness!

  16. #16 "Q" the Enchanter
    May 31, 2006

    Guess there’s just something about her that rubs God the wrong way.

  17. #17 HPLC_Sean
    May 31, 2006

    I salute your D&D reference even if it means we are all worshippers of the occult and will surely burn. Mrs. Brown obviously made two very important saving throws when it really counted. Boy, if this lady thinks she’s blessed, I’m really curious to see what happens when she’s cursed!

  18. #18 BlueIndependent
    May 31, 2006

    she’s a little old lady–she probably doesn’t have much in the way of hit points.

    HA HA! Now that is genuinely funny. =)

    Well luckily the woman is safe after such a close call. But you all do realize this was God testing her with his might and magic to see just how faithful His dutiful daughter was, right? πŸ˜‰

  19. #19 Bronze Dog
    May 31, 2006

    Another bonus for magic missile: It’s only a 1st level spell, so it’s more energy efficient than 3rd level spells like lightning bolt and fireball.

    Oh, and I put in my own two cents.

  20. #20 AJ Milne
    May 31, 2006

    How ’bout that. God does play dice with the universe. And frequently loses.

  21. #21 Ed Darrell
    May 31, 2006

    My great grandfather was killed one Sunday as he journeyed between his Mormon wives — a sudden summer squall, he took refuge in his buggy under a tree. The bolt neatly took him out, left the horses fine. Surgical strike, you might say.

    My grandfather was plowing one Sunday, and a dust devil picked up the horse, spun it around and put it down. Plowing on a Sunday again a few weeks later, a bolt from the blue knocked both the horse and my grandfather to the ground. As he described it, he got up, got the horse up, took the horse to the barn and never plowed on a Sunday again.

    It certainly made his Sundays more pleasant.

  22. #22 moonflake
    May 31, 2006

    IIRC, some friends and I worked out that Jesus would only have to be a 15th level cleric to perform all his miracles. It’s the feeding of the 5,000 that’s the tricky part, the rest are actually quite low level spells.

    I wonder what God’s alignment would be? I think we can judge from incidents like this that it’s not likely to be Lawful Good.

  23. #23 Keith Douglas
    May 31, 2006

    Bronze Dog: I haven’t played in years, but according to the 1st edition Manual of the Planes, the 7 Heavens, like all Outer Planes, is infinitely large, so yeah, there’s room, assuming a finite number of saved.

    moonflake: The OT god is pretty close to chaotic neutral, IIRC.

  24. #24 HPLC_Sean
    May 31, 2006

    I’d have to say that God is probably Chaotic Neutral.

  25. #25 saurabh
    May 31, 2006

    What the hell are you talking about, moonflake? ‘Create food’ is a level 1 cleric spell… it would just take a shitload of mana.

  26. #26 Bob O'H
    May 31, 2006

    It’s never the big beasties (like gods) that cause problems anyway. They’re easy to deal with: it’s being attacked by the men with pointy sticks that kills you.

    Bob

  27. #27 George Cauldron
    May 31, 2006


    Who’d have thunk an old lady would have the evasion class feature? If not magic missile, God should use a spell that doesn’t allow a reflex save. Probably something with a Will save, since she probably doesn’t have much of that.

    ‘Create food’ is a level 1 cleric spell… it would just take a shitload of mana.

    Is it just me, or did it suddenly just get a lot more nerdy in here?? πŸ™‚

  28. #28 Ian H Spedding
    May 31, 2006

    Forget Magic Missiles, a Type II Phaser from 2287 will do the trick – vaporises a saucepan from right around the contents without leaving a mark (STVI: The Undiscovered Country). Now that’s precision!

  29. #29 No One Of Consequence
    May 31, 2006
  30. I was thinking that create food and water was possibly even a cantrip, but I never play a cleric, so I wouldn’t know. But with the latest rules, I think you can trade down spells, so he could cast the needed 1st level spells using the high spell slots.
  31. I think prayer improves your saving throw as well, but she still should have only saved for half unless she has tumble/evasion
  32. yes, it is even nerdier/geekier than usual…and I love it.
  • #30 Bronze Dog
    May 31, 2006

    Nerd is the new black.

  • #31 False Prophet
    May 31, 2006

    “I’m the God of the Truth and Light!”

    “If you’re the God of Light, why are you casting magic missile?”

    [raucous laughter]

    “Where are the Cheetos?”

    πŸ™‚

  • #32 An Anonymous Coward
    May 31, 2006

    Boy, if this lady thinks she’s blessed, I’m really curious to see what happens when she’s cursed!

    Well, at the caster’s option, she’d have either a -6 decrease to an ability score (minimum 1); a -4 penalty on attack rolls, saves, ability checks, and skill checks; or a 50% chance each turn to take no action instead of acting normally. Come on, man, it’s right there on page 203 of the PHB! πŸ˜‰

  • #33 George Cauldron
    May 31, 2006

    Suddenly I feel like my acne is coming back, my hair is getting greasier, this weird pocket protector has just sprouted on my shirt, I can’t get any dates, and Jimmy Carter is president again!

  • #34 George Cauldron
    May 31, 2006

    Tho of course, the advantage to this is that no one’s heard of Ann Coulter and George Bush Jr. is still just a harmless cokehead somewhere in Texas…

  • #35 Paul W.
    May 31, 2006

    Bronze Dog sez:

    Nerd is the new black.

    After seeing the thread on the Left Behind game, my new African American wife has taken to calling me Untidy Whitey. Maybe now I can nip that in the bud and be her New Black.

  • #36 mythusmage
    May 31, 2006

    It could be worse, it could’ve been Mythus. In Mythus lightning bolts and fireballs are targeted. The target takes the most damage, while those around him take substantially less. But, electrical attacks can get real bad if the target is in contact with metallic objects, while heat attacks can set things on fire. And no save. She’s lucky He missed, and rolled crappy on damage.

  • #37 Stanton
    May 31, 2006

    If you ask my opinion, God doesn’t hate this old lady, and isn’t/wasn’t trying to kill her, yet.
    If He wanted to kill her, she’d be dead already. One way, or another.
    More likely, He was simply taking advantage of the situation and sent a divine message letting Mrs Brown know that she needs to remodel her kitchen, and get a tile floor, instead of tacky (and flammable) linoleum.

  • #38 Alon Levy
    May 31, 2006

    Why does an entity that I presume is a Greater Power need to resort to low-level spells? Death Spell or Power Word, Kill shouldn’t be big problems for a god.

  • #39 Xtopher42
    May 31, 2006

    20’s. That’s how she rolls.

    I think this is perhaps the most gloriously nerdy post I’ve seen from you yet, PZ.

  • #40 Rich
    May 31, 2006

    Magic Missle violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

  • #41 PZ Myers
    May 31, 2006

    Magic Missle violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    Crap. It’s a rules lawyer.

  • #42 Rich
    May 31, 2006

    Phhh!

    New class “IDiot”
    NO IT’S NOT A CLERIC ALRIGHT JUST SHUT UP.

    HP 1D6.

    Level———-Ability
    1————–“God of the gaps”
    3————–“Qoute mine”
    5————–“Polymorph diety into pseudoscience”

    saving throws:

    Peer review – 2
    Logic – 4
    Seperation clause – 18
    Religious indoctrination – 23

  • #43 RCP
    May 31, 2006

    Since God randomly attacked some old lady, would it be safe to say that God is chaotic-evil?

  • #44 Greco
    May 31, 2006

    Why does an entity that I presume is a Greater Power need to resort to low-level spells? Death Spell or Power Word, Kill shouldn’t be big problems for a god.

    But they don’t look cool. Read Exodus again and see how the big guy has love for theatrics.

  • #45 bernarda
    May 31, 2006

    I saw a similar story in a documentary on tornado chasers. There was a church with a tower in Oklahoma which was struck by the tornado. For some reason, two women were in the top of the tower praying. The church was destroyed and all of the walls of the tower were ripped away. Surprisingly the structure of the tower and the stairways remained, which the women walked down. There were pictures to prove it. One of the women was interviewed and she said that on coming down, she said “Amen”.

  • #46 NelC
    May 31, 2006

    Magic Missle violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    I’m pretty sure that summoning fireballs and lightning suffer from the same limitation.

    Crap. It’s a rules lawyer.

    Well, God sounds like a munchkin, so perhaps it’s appropriate.

  • #47 moonflake
    June 1, 2006

    saurabh: what are you talking about? there’s no mana in AD&D.
    RCP: I’m with you on Chaotic Evil πŸ™‚

  • #48 wintermute23
    June 1, 2006

    God cannot possibly be considered Chaotic. Setting up a detailed body of arbitrary law (such as Leviticus) and doling out infinate punishment for minor infractions (eat a cheeseburger, go to Hell) is the act of a strongly Lawful god.

    My money’s on Lawful Neutral: The Law is the Law, and you had better obey it, regardless of whether the Law is good or bad in any given circumstance.

  • #49 Jormungandr
    June 1, 2006

    saurabh: what are you talking about? there’s no mana in AD&D.

    This may be an example of people raised on the book/dice version of D&D (the true version) vs. the people raised on the computer/game console version of D&D (the heretics πŸ˜‰ ).

  • #50 Keith Douglas
    June 1, 2006

    Alon Levy: The lord is vengful but not merciless?

    wintermute23: But arbitrarily enforcing it isn’t terribly lawful. If the ancient Hebrews had been the only group and it was applied consistently (e.g. people getting lightning bolted for speaking ‘YHWH’ allowed like in the old days), then, maybe.

  • #51 Bronze Dog
    June 1, 2006

    Let’s not forget he killed a bunch of baby kobolds.

    (For non-D&Ders: D&D forums apparently have an ancient moral “debate” about whether or not a paladin would lose his lawful good powers if he killed baby kobolds out of spite. “Baby kobolds” is sometimes terminology for any pointless thread about alignment.)

  • #52 RickU
    June 1, 2006

    Just remember. It’s not your child’s fault. It’s their gym teachers fault.

  • #53 Flex
    June 1, 2006

    Bronze Dog wrote,

    “D&D forums apparently have an ancient moral “debate” about whether or not a paladin would lose his lawful good powers if he killed baby kobolds out of spite. “Baby kobolds” is sometimes terminology for any pointless thread about alignment.”

    I stopped playing D&D before forums existed and this debate was old even then. The silliness of the alignment system meant that most monsters are born with an inherent, unalertable morality.

    Wait… this idea seems to have cropped up in other venures recently….

    Maybe the good Rabbi is a D&D player?

    πŸ˜‰

    -Flex

  • #54 zilch
    June 3, 2006

    “Look at all these votive gifts,” Diagoras the atheist was told in the sanctuary of Samothrace, which houses the great gods who were famous for saving people from the dangers at sea. “There would be many more votives,” the atheist unflinchingly replied, “if all those who were actually drowned at sea had had the chance to set up monuments.”

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