First let’s consider: what kind of historical precedent might provide insight into God’s mood and vengeance-wreaking proclivities? God rarely gives personal interviews, and when he does the mainstream press typically isn’t invited. Our best bet, then, is to examine previous episodes of divine vengeance in hopes of finding some patterns.

As the Book of Job reminds us, God’s ways are mysterious. It isn’t safe to view all misfortune as divine punishment, because God may have any number of providential reasons for inflicting suffering. Jesus himself addresses this in the Book of Luke when he declares that the eighteen people killed in the Tower of Siloam (a structure in the south of Jerusalem that had collapsed) were no more sinful than their countrymen. Not every catastrophe is a display of divine wrath.

Jesus clearly does not deny, however, that his Father may sometimes rain down brimstone (or ice?) on the wicked. He warns against gloating over the afflicted on the strength of rash assumptions. But he also warns the Israelites (and especially those whited-sepulcher Pharisees) that great misfortune will soon fall upon them if they do not repent. As a matter of self-examination, it’s surely wise to consider the possibility. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I don’t see this awful winter as a divine compliment (unless possibly to some very pious children who have been praying for snow days). Regardless of whether God’s evil eye is most drawn to sex, violence, extravagant waste or religious indifference, we’re providing plenty of material to fuel for his anger.