IN THE NEWS A SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE

Prayer about earthquakes

The 2008 EARTHQUAKE IN China startled humanity with its severity, causing heavy loss of life and upsetting cities, businesses, and homes in Sichuan Province. That event reinforced that our planet is fragile, with a crust that occasionally shifts and crumbles like a giant round cookie. Shifting locations called faults are found worldwide, including high-visibility spots such as the San Andreas Fault on the US Pacific Coast. People living near these faults are warned they are at risk. Since an earthquake hasn't occurred there for a while, local inhabitants wonder if they are overdue for "the big one." Uncertainly about the future breeds fear of the unexpected, especially when it seems dangerous.

The physical view of an earthquake is that it is a natural process by which Earth's surface relieves stress that builds up over time. According to this view, the stress needs to be relieved occasionally. If no movement occurs for a long time, sudden shifts can be destructive to human structures and lives. Studying seismic events in 1935 in California, California Institute of Technology seismologist Charles Richter introduced a scale that would show the amount of movement recorded by his measuring instruments.

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