Thursday, June 20, 2013


Overstatement Is Not Helpful

Terry Mattingly writes of "Apocalyptic visions about Chernobyl." I don' think this is helpful. Mattingly writes of visiting  the Ukrainian National Chernobyl Museum adn the immense suffering it purports to memorialize:
Soviet officials claim a mere 31 died. Ukrainians mock this number, saying it’s impossible to calculate the long-term fallout in cancers, birth defects and other forms of human suffering.
“The catastrophe at Chernobyl station took its victims before their time,” said Archpriest Andrei Tkachev of St. Agapit of Pechersk Orthodox Church in Kiev. “Man is supposed to meet death in his own time, when he has a chance to prepare to meet God. That kind of death is a gift from God — a good death.
“That is not what happened for many of the victims of Chernobyl.”

It is not just Soviet officials that claim such death rates. It's the USDOE as well. Regular readers will recall that I visited Chernobyl personally in 1991. I wrote about it in three parts - here - here - here. In the third post, citing the DOE report just linked, I said:
The site does not let me cut and past a pull quote, but read it carefully, the studies conclude that the damage is far more psychosomatic than physical -- no less real, but there is great comfort in that conclusion.
The fear that pervades the region and accounts for statements like that quoted by Mattingly is real, and requires aid, but have serious reservations about reporting on apocalyptic ties that seem designed only to deepen and reinforce such fear. Ignorance is a powerful force, but its corrective is in its removal, not in sympathy with it. Sympathizing with fear, born of ignorance, only reinforces the fear. MAttingly would do well in this instance to look deeply into the facts before reporting - something he seeks to correct in religion reporters all the time.


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