Theology and the weather above

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians,” she said. “We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

As you may have heard, that’s our congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, offering the theological interpretation of the weekend hurricane and its message that it — and presumably the deaths of 15 people, including a young woman swept away by a raging river in Vermont — was God’s way of saying he supports Mrs. Bachmann’s politics.

Maybe she was joking, but if she was, it was an odd time to make a funny.

Maybe she was serious, in which case she may be able to interpret Hurricane Gustav in 2008, which came ashore just as the Republican National Convention in St. Paul was getting underway.

It’s been a fairly quiet hurricane since. Last year, Tropical Storm Nicole hit southern Florida and the Gulf in late September. It was about the same time Minnesota was experiencing extreme flooding. It was also the same day President Obama opened a new round of Middle East peace talks, the U.S. changed commanders in Iraq and the Minnesota tea party held a judicial candidate forum.

Some weeks earlier, Hurricane Earl threatened New England — the first time New England had been threatened since Hurricane Bob in 2001 (New England has been very, very good up until recently, apparently) . But Earl veered away at the last minute. Why? Who knows, but the planned New York City mosque cleared a legal hurdle, nine people were killed in a Connecticut warehouse shooting, Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th homer (is God a Yankees fan?), and a judge overturned a gay marriage ban in California.

Of course, we’ve seen and heard this sort of stuff before. When a national convention of Lutherans was voting on whether to allow non-celibate gays in the pulpit in Minneapolis in 2009, lightning hit a nearby church. That, a non-Lutheran preacher said, was not a coincidence, although he didn’t explain what the Electric Fetus record store did to deserve a tornado.

If lightning hitting a church is pretty powerful sign, there won’t be much time for politicians to do anything other than explaining the deep meaning because it happens a lot (h/t: Michael Wells).

A Google search, for example, reveals that it happened Wednesday night in Cleveland, the same day the Indians put in a claim for Jim Thome of the Twins.

It happened in Rocky Mount, NC a week ago Sunday, when a Baptist Church was hit.

And in Limestone County, Alabama, a church burned after being hit by lightning. Unusual? Sure. About as unusual as the three other churches that burned after being struck by lightning in the last year in the same county.

By the way, yesterday was the four-month anniversary of the tornado outbreak in Alabama, which killed 247 people, including four in — wait for it — Limestone County.

“Obviously she was saying it in jest,” Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart said in a statement about the congresswoman’s assessment of the weekend tragedy.