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"Dirty Thunderstorm"; Eyjafjallajokull Volcano in Iceland

For most of us, Iceland is a distant and remote place that really doesn’t have much impact on our daily lives and schedules.  I do recall Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev meeting in Reykjavik back in 1986, and I have seen Iceland a couple of times from 30,000 feet on flights to northern Europe.  In recent months, Iceland’s financial crisis and the collapse of its government have made the news, but the influence of those events has been much more keenly felt by its European neighbors than by the inhabitants of the rest of the world.   

However, a couple of weeks ago, hundreds of thousands of travelers around the globe were caused to sit up, take notice, and develop an immediate interest in exactly where this country was and how volcanic activity there might affect their travel plans.  A volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier began seriously rumbling in March and then shifted into full-blown eruption mode on April 14.  (Forget trying to say Eyjafjallajokul three times really fast; my hat is off to anyone who can pronounce it even once, slowly!).  Photos from the erupting volcano have been spectacular, including multiple images of a rare phenomenon known as a “dirty thunderstorm.”  Ash and rock fragments in the volcano’s plume collide with ice particles, creating massive amounts of static electricity which is then discharged as lightning.   

While several hundred local residents had to be evacuated because of a torrent of water from the melting glacier, the volcano’s greatest impact was experienced on the European continent, over which a massive cloud of ash had spread.  Volcanic ash has the consistency of talcum powder and has been known to shut down jet engines when encountered in flight.  Airports across Europe were closed; no flights in, no flights out.  “What do you mean my flight has been cancelled?”  “What do you mean you don’t know when you’ll be able to fly again?”  The gall!  Or, de Gaulle, for those who were stranded in the Paris airport!   

Occasionally, events remind us that there are forces at work in this world which are much greater than ourselves; there are things that exist outside the sphere of human control, influence, manipulation, and spin.  You can’t negotiate with an Icelandic volcano.  Controlling interests in them cannot be gained through leveraged buyouts.  They aren’t influenced by opinion polls or negative publicity.  They are impervious to threats of economic sanctions or the use of military force.  They are bigger than spin.       

Politicians, corporate executives, and sometimes even church leaders can successfully manipulate outcomes, control the dissemination of information, and “spin” things to their own advantage and the detriment of others.  I am not suggesting that this ought to happen; just saying that it does.  Such is the nature of earthly power and authority, both secular and religious.    

But, there is a Higher Authority, a Greater Power, who exists above and beyond the reach of human control!     

…The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed… He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. (Psalms 2:1-4)   

But you, why do you judge your brother?  Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt?  For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.  For it is written, “As I live,” says the Lord, “every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.”  So then each one us will give an account of himself to God.  (Romans 14:10-12)   

God is bigger than spin!  

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May 2010