Christians’ Letters to the Volcano Goddess

Gee, I wish this weren’t true.

At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, there’s a legend that, if you remove anything from the park and take it with you–say, a nice chunk of lava, as a souvenir–the volcano goddess Pele will be terribly angry and take painful vengeance on you ( ). This prompts a lot of tourists to mail their souvenirs back to Hawaii, along with letters of apology to the goddess.

This has been going on for many years. The park visitors’ center used to have a display of agonized letters from repentant tourists, but that has been discontinued.

The letters are from real people who had really suffered–and thought the reason for it was the anger of a pagan goddess. “Dear Goddess Pele, I am SO SORRY that I took that rock! Ever since then I’ve had nothing but bad luck! My husband divorced me/ our car blew up for no reason/ my kid’s dog ran away/ our son voted for Obama/ my father-in-law fell off the roof…”

I’m not making it up. People believe that this volcano goddess is real, and has the will and the power to reach across the Pacific into Ohio or Illinois and mangle the lives of those who have offended her.

What does that say for the job done by our churches? You go to Sunday school as a child and then you go to church, and yet you sin against the real God without thinking twice about it. You would never write a letter of apology to God.

But people go to the trouble and the expense of mailing heavy rocks all the way back to Hawaii, along with abject letters to a pagan goddess begging her to forgive them and to lift her curse.

What does that say about our churches?

10 comments on “Christians’ Letters to the Volcano Goddess

  1. You make a very good point in this post. Only one God exists; all others have been and still are being created by man and then being spiritually enhanced by the defeated enemy who is always looking for ways to garner man’s worship. He often uses scare tactics like curses and spells being cast on someone who goes against the god in one way or another. Even though a park ranger made up the curse story, it is interesting as you said that so many fear displeasing the god or goddess and will go to great pains and expense to satisfy it when the Almighty God is ignored and often considered a myth. And He is the One Who holds our very lives in His Hands. The God Who loved us so much that He sent His Son to make the greatest sacrifice. And it’s true what you said that people don’t think twice about sinning against Him and never apologizing. I am amazed at His great mercy and at His lovingkindness.

    1. Thanks, Matt, for a cool article. I never even heard of this until it cropped up in a Gideon Oliver mystery I was reading last year.
      Oh, these people! They would never dream of apologizing to the real God they claim to believe in–but they’re scared witless of a pagan goddess.

  2. Ok, let’s get this straight; adultery ain’t no big thang and Christians are in danger of bibliodolatry, but if you filch some volcanic rock your life is going to turn into a distasteful flick on steroids. Hmmmmm? No flaw in that logic.

    Ok, it’s not a good idea to swipe volcanic rock. If one person does it, there’s no effect, but a lot of people do it and I suppose that there could be an erosive effect in the long term. On the flip side, land mass is literally being created by this volcano, which is pumping material from below and depositing it on the surface. I doubt that any number of sticky fingered tourists could do much as make a dent in the volume being deposited by the volcano. Maybe we should ALL take government sponsored vacations to Hawaii and be encouraged to take rocks and sand back home so that the island doesn’t capsize. Some trog’ in Congress seems to think that sort of thing is a real possibility; who are we to defy such an authoritative voice? 🙂

    But you have inspired me, Lee. Perhaps we need to send letters to God apologizing. If you’ve sinned, write out your apologies to God and send them my way. If it’s a venal sin, write it out on a $20 bill. If it’s a Cardinal sin, write it out on a $100 bill, then send them to me and I’ll take care of the matter, free of charge. 🙂

    OTOH, there’s that whole deal about Jesus dying for our sins, but when have facts ever stood in the way of a great idea? 🙂

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