"2011 ends with 4.0 quake." So read the headline of last Sunday's Tribune. The 4.0 magnitude earthquake at 3:04 p.m. (Saturday) shook the Mahoning Valley and jarred area residents. After 10 previous quakes since March 17, this was the most severe in Mahoning County history. "It scared the (stuffing) out of us," said John Leach, a local resident.
A neighbor, Bob Berry, was napping and heard his dogs barking just before the impact. "It was like a truck hit the house, it was so bad," Berry said. He thought the house next door had exploded.
What caused this earthquake? Many blame the series of quakes on the drilling operations that use the fracking process to extract natural gas from underground shale. (And that is a completely different process than injection wells). But Jim Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources disagrees, saying that "the seismic events are not a direct result of fracking."
I certainly don't want to discount any natural cause for this phenomenon. But you can't help but consider the matter of divine providence. One thing for sure, Mr. Berry had to be gripped with a deep sense of awe during the ordeal. We've all wondered at times why these things occur.
After seeing some of the devastating world and local news on Sunday, I said to myself, "Here we go again, there's nothing new." The quake just reminded me of not only the unpredictability and brevity of life on this planet, but the shattered condition of our civilization. In the midst of the presidential primaries, I thought, "What difference does it make who saves the economy, if the moral fiber of our nation continues to crumble?" Who will rescue us from the "cesspool" of corruption?
It's time to take inventory of our personal lives. Communities are made up of individuals, so change must come one person at a time.
Ben Stein, the well-known economist, made the following astute remarks regarding the demise of our nation:
"I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians ... where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God? ...There are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to."
Anne Graham, Billy Graham's daughter, was asked about Hurricane Katrina on the Early Show. The question was posed, "How could God let something like this happen?" Her response, Ben says, was most profound and insightful.
She said: "I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, our government and our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?"
"I think it started," Ben says, "when Madeleine Murray O'Hare complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK."
"Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said OK."
"Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates and themselves."
Indeed, these are sobering words to ponder as we enter 2012.
Finnigan is a Howland resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.