Another humorous and thought provoking article by Fr. Isidore Clarke O.P. (from his own blog

Have I gone mad?   Or is it the rest of the world that’s gone crazy?   That disturbing question was forced upon me when I was doing some typing on my computer.  Inexplicably a pair of scissors, scissors -instead of the intended letter -appeared when I struck a key.   That was followed by a pair of spectacles –yes spectacles.  What had I done to deserve this?!  Something similar happened on another occasion when my computer produced Greek letters.  Why? Why? Bemused, I exclaimed, “It’s all Greek to me!”  -a phrase we English use when we don’t understand something, but which would be completely intelligible to the inhabitants of that country.

As with the scissors and spectacles I asked myself, “What had I done to provoke my computer to react in such a bizarre and unpredictable manner?  More importantly, how could I remedy a text which had become absolutely meaningless, totally useless?”  As I pressed different keys no solution appeared. Gradually panic set in, then hysteria.  I seemed to be trapped in a world of gobble-di-gook.  How could I escape?  Would I ever again be able to compose something coherent?

Was I or my computer having a Babel moment? Remember the Biblical story of people, in their pride, building a tower tall enough to reach up to heaven, to God’s realm?  What folly to think anyone could reach God by his own efforts!  To cut them down to size the Lord knocked over their tower and reduced them to a state of confusion. That was the popular explanation for the present diversity of languages, with the lack of understanding that causes.


My computer and I were certainly sending each other incomprehensible messages! As I typed what seemed to be reasonable my computer responded by babbling nonsense.  I hold those Babylonian builders responsible for driving a harmless old Dominican out of his wits!

How does God want me to react to this confusion, to this madness–to my orderly world getting out of control?  How did I react? Certainly my confusion revealed how little I knew about the inner workings of a computer. Surprisingly, my problem was solved when I abandoned what seemed to me to be reasonable solutions. Only when I tried what seemed to me to be totally illogical did my computer begin to perform correctly!

Perhaps that’s what God wanted my crazy, wayward computer to teach me.  Sometimes the best, or even the only, solution is not the most obvious and rational. Frequently God’s wisdom defies human logic.   The way He behaves doesn’t seem to make sense. We are baffled; we are confused when things go wrong in our lives, when our lives descend into chaos.  We panic when we feel overwhelmed and can find no answer.   Desperately we cry, “Lord, save me. I’m sinking.”

So how did He reply to our longing for Him to rescue us from the destructive powers of sin and death? To us God’s solution seems absolute madness. Not one of us would have thought the answer would lie in the Son of God Himself becoming man, living amongst us,  dying on the cross and rising from the dead. God’s ways are certainly not our ways!   Realizing this, St. Paul exclaimed with wonder, “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!  ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord?”  ( Rom. 11.33-36).   When speaking of the crucifixion Paul even had the temerity to exclaim, “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength,”   (1 Cor. 1. 25).

By accidentally stumbling on a solution to my wayward computer God wanted to remind me of the limits of my understanding, even of computers, still less of the mysteries of life and death, pain and suffering.  Humbly I must admit that I am bewildered and confused. Humbly I must trust in God’s infinite wisdom, which defies human logic.

And from the builders of the tower of Babel I must realize that it’s folly to try to reach God by my own efforts. Only He can raise me up to share His divine life and happiness.  My computer has taught me to recognize my limitations.  Now with Paul I can rejoice in my weakness and lack of understanding.  With him I can say, “Over to You,” as I rely on God’s wisdom and strength, not my own.  This kind of humility is not humiliating if it draws me close to God!

Isidore O.P.

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14 Responses to MY BABEL MOMENT

  1. Pastorius says:

    “Have I gone mad?” says Fr. Clarke.

    I wonder too, for a week or so ago Sacred Lourdes was heavily flooded, the worst flood in many years. All pilgrimage and devotion stopped.

    But why? How could Our Lord let this happen?
    I cannot find an answer.


  2. toadspittle says:

    The Lord works in many stwange ways, Pasto.
    Lourdes flooded? Must be a miracle!


  3. Pastorius says:

    I searched Fr Clarke’s words for a real answer.

    “Frequently God’s wisdom defies human logic. The way He behaves doesnt seem to make sense. We are baffled…we cry ‘Lord save us I am sinking’.”

    This seems to link with the flooding of Lourdes, but doesn’t help enough..


  4. toadspittle says:

    I think the trick is not to expect sense, Pasto. Then it’s all right. It says here.
    Anyway as we know, God is partial to floods and Tsunamis.

    He moves in mysterwious, and often watery, ways.
    Or so it would seem.


  5. toadspittle says:


    ..And now, I fear The Lord might be sending a monster, catastrophic, hurricane to pulverise the East Coast of America, bearing the rather innocuous name of “Sandy.”

    This can only be His warning against voting for a Mormon, as we Catholics naturally all agree.
    Stick with the Muslim.


  6. Pastorius says:

    Mysterious ways as you say. But it will hit Catholics as well as (rightly? ) Mormons. Like for Lourdes, innocent and guilty are punished. Why? but there is no answer to be heard.. Is it like Sodom and Gomorrah where all perished for the sins of a few?


  7. kathleen says:

    Toad and Pastorius,
    You remind me of one of my children when he was a little boy. He just never stopped asking questions either. (A sign of intelligence they say.) 😉
    Everything in this big new world around him was an amazing and exciting mystery that he wanted to know more about, and how and why it all worked. I busily tried to a give him answers all day long, but if I ever replied: “I don’t know”, he would look aghast! How can Mummy (who is a grown up and hence, should know everything) say she doesn’t know? He would feel let down, disappointed even. It was hard for him to understand that we limited human beings just don’t have the answers to everything, to all the mysteries of life.

    So this ‘not knowing’ all the reasons for world catastrophes and disasters, instead of throwing in the towel and blaming God, this should be a lesson in humility for us – an “over to you” to God, as the author says – for the unfathomonable and strange workings of our beautiful, yet mysterious planet.


  8. toadspittle says:

    I take it from the “smiley face” that asking questions was not a sign of intelligence in Kathleen‘s little sprog.
    Doesn’t run in the family then?

    But is it not agreed – among the faithful, at least – that this is the world God created?
    All of it?
    In which case, who else is there to blame?


  9. kathleen says:

    The ‘winking‘ face was directed to you Toad, and Pastorius, who continually ask questions. 😆
    And my little “sprog” has turned out to be a lot more intelligent than his Mum!

    Yes, God created the world, but He put us in charge to look after it!! Over all I don’t think we can pat ourselves on the back too much for how we’ve done so far…… agreed?


  10. Pastorius says:

    “Unless ye shall be as a child……” I have been troubled lately over many questions and I hoped that wiser heads than mine would help me. I am still troubled that no-one knows why Lourdes was flooded.
    Only one person answered in keyboard Tourette’s fashion, about Muslims and Mormons; OK two answers now, but no real help came. The second answer just said ‘it’s a mystery’, which I already knew.

    Maybe God was fed up with all the plastic rubbish on sale there and swept it away, all the glowing Christs and Jesus with a battery powered pulsing red heart and a Madonna with eyes which blink and a glittery priest who raises his hand in a blessing once a second till the battery runs out and so on. It’s a sight.

    I have NOT blamed God -till now. But He is allpowerful so I now must believe that He did it; I have no choice – but I STILL don’t know why. We berate scientists if they dont know answers. This issue of natural disasters -and why – must be as old as the hills and I hoped there was an answer.

    Perhaps people are shopping and will reply sometime.


  11. toadspittle says:

    Pasto, Toad strongly suspects you are really just teasing the faithful on here.
    Fair enough. There’s room for two.

    If you would like his explanation for the flooding of Lourdes – (of which, curiously, he has not read one word) it is probably because there was an excess of rain in the area.

    And if the visiting hordes of infirm, dying, diseased, “differently abled,” and the attendent souvenir shop owners have been discommoded by the deluge, the local farmers may well now be offering prayers of joy and relief from drought.
    Takes all sorts. Toad finds.


  12. Pastorius says:

    Thank you TouretteToad, from ‘Pasto’. I m asking a question – you are teasing. Your answers about Mormons show this.

    Google ‘Lourdes flooding’ , which will enable you to explain why you suggested I was not telling the truth. Please do some fact checking before you ‘tease’. With respect, because you don’t know of some event, it does not mean it didn’t take place; “Eppur si muove”.


  13. Pastorius says:

    There is a tide in the affairs of man, which taken at the flood…


  14. afmm says:

    Have a look at the Romney speech at the Al Smith dinner. It is on youtube. Excellent!


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