Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Lessons from Tornado Country

Yesterday, I spent a few minutes in the basement as a tornado warning was in effect in my area of residence. Another friend, in a nearby Midwest state, spent time in his storm shelter, caught between two tornado warnings.

Now, there are two ways people in these parts respond to tornado warnings, which mean either that tornados have actually touched ground nearby (the real definition of a tornado) or have been spotted in the air.

Some people, like me, obedient the to guidelines of NOAA, get ready and go into the basement, or, like my friend, go into a shelter.

Some people, like two other friends of mine, who grew up, as I did, in "tornado alley", go and sit on the swing on their front porch and watch the sky.

My two bold swinging friends do not believe they will be carried away by winds or beaten by large hail storms. Perhaps they do not care if they die and go to h, h, or p at this time. I want to live a bit longer.

What came to my mind were the attitudes of so many Catholics who, instead of obeying rules, or learning why rules are important, watch the skies rather laconically, and hope for the best.

Prudence, which is practical wisdom, demands certain responses to serious situations. As the CCC quotes, "a prudent man looks where he is going".  This phrase always reminds me of the Victorian children's book, Der Struwwelpeter.  In the book, there is a character which reminds me of my two fearless friends.

The Story of Johnny Head-in-Air
As he trudged along to school,
It was always Johnny's rule
To be looking at the sky
And the clouds that floated by;
But what just before him lay,
In his way,
Johnny never thought about;
So that every one cried out
"Look at little Johnny there,
Little Johnny Head-In-Air!"

Running just in Johnny's way
Came a little dog one day;
Johnny's eyes were still astray
Up on high,
In the sky;
And he never heard them cry
"Johnny, mind, the dog is nigh!"
Down they fell, with such a thump,
Dog and Johnny in a lump!
Dog and Johnny in a lump!

Once, with head as high as ever,
Johnny walked beside the river.
Johnny watched the swallows trying
Which was cleverest at flying.
Oh! what fun!
Johnny watched the bright round sun
Going in and coming out;
This was all he thought about.
So he strode on, only think!
To the river's very brink,
Where the bank was high and steep,
And the water very deep;
And the fishes, in a row,
Stared to see him coming so.

One step more! oh! sad to tell!
Headlong in poor Johnny fell.
And the fishes, in dismay,
Wagged their tails and swam away.
There lay Johnny on his face

There lay Johnny on his face,
With his nice red writing-case;
But, as they were passing by,
Two strong men had heard him cry;
And, with sticks, these two strong men
Hooked poor Johnny out again.
Oh! you should have seen him shiver

Oh! you should have seen him shiver
When they pulled him from the river.
He was in a sorry plight!
Dripping wet, and such a fright!
Wet all over, everywhere,
Clothes, and arms, and face, and hair:
Johnny never will forget
What it is to be so wet.

And the fishes, one, two, three,
Are come back again, you see;
Up they came the moment after,
To enjoy the fun and laughter.
Each popped out his little head,
And, to tease poor Johnny, said
"Silly little Johnny, look,
You have lost your writing-book!"
Silly little Johnny, look

Now, it is fair to say that growing up in tornado country makes one a bit blasé.

However, I am not indifferent to storm warning, or tornado warnings, when the siren blares and the NOAA radio shouts out "get to shelter".

Perhaps the lesson today is that we should not let ourselves become too complacent about our surroundings, our culture, even our civilization. Two dear friends of mine lost everything in Katrina. One told me it was the best thing that ever happened to his family, as it gave them all a perspective that the only thing which really mattered were Mom, Dad, and the kids.

The other one got up and started her business immediately, not letting the loss overcome her energy and talents. But, both went and left the coming eye of the storm in plenty of time to avoid being killed.

1,833 people died in Katrina, including the uncle of a friend of mine who refused to leave, having made it through Camille, when only about 300 people perished. He stayed in the second floor of his house but was drowned by the thirty-nine foot wave  coming off the Gulf.

The storm of anti-Catholicism has been growing off the shores of Britain in a new manner. Anti-Catholicism in England is still muted under a sort of indifference, and like the two friends stated, sitting on the front porch, the sky does not seem "that bad". But, the vote in Ireland has changed the atmospheric pressure. Those who are paying attention need to plan how to meet the winds of evil which have been gathering and which will try to destroy the Catholic Church. Do not kid yourselves, we are in for a tornado.


  1. Something appears to be wrong with those images. Nice article though,

  2. hmm no problem on this side of the pond...may be a copyright difference between the US and Britain....what do you think?


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