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During the recent bushfires in New South Wales, did firefighter Dean Symons capture on film Picton’s own ‘burning bush’ moment? In the height of a night-time storm, a large gum tree was struck by lightning, inducing a state of internal combustion, until the fire brigade extinguished the blaze with some special firefighting foam, and then arranged for the incinerated tree to be removed. But ‘nec tamen consumbatur’ it wasn’t, nor the ordination of some new prophet, but it must have been an unusual sight for the people of Picton.
Some have wondered if this is what really happened to Moses in the wilderness. A lightning strike, a burning bush, a voice in his head, and an acute sense of social concern for the enslaved and oppressed. So flow the thoughts and arguments of many a theologian, who see the impossible-to-cross Red Sea as actually the easily-negotiated sea of reeds, and the impossible-to-provide manna from heaven as really some easily-accounted-for delicious dessert of the desert. All simply a mosaic of clever myths and pretty stories.
But the people from Picton are not dills, nor have the members of the rural fire brigade exchanged their yellow uniforms and helmets for leather sandals and a prophet’s staff. They can recognize a lightning strike when they see one. And it seems to me that Moses could too. Seems further to me that to limit one’s worldview to only that which can be explained by natural causes is to take a line of thought where one is sure to get one’s fingers burned.
DM 12th Nov 2013