Past Impacts of Earthquake/Tsunami

Such tragedy and terror from Japan. The past week my thoughts keep going back to the 1755 earthquake and tsunami of Lisbon, Portugal. What I know of it comes from Charles Withers’ Placing the Enlightenment. It occurred during the midst of the Enlightenment period, wiped out 900,000 people (essentially the city of Lisbon, it seems), and had an immense impact on the theological, philosophical and physical lives of Europeans. Some saw it as divine retribution, but it pushed many others away from the idea of a knowing and all-powerful God. As Withers says, it “accelerated existing trends toward materialistic and historical philosophies.”

What impact will this tragedy have on our world – next week? next year? in the next decades? What existing trends will it accelerate? What new ways of being in the world will it encourage? How will we shift in our understandings of who we are and what we mean to each other?

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