Text with Texture: Noah’s Drunkenness and Post-Disaster Recovery

Today we’re kicking off “Text with Texture”—a new weekly blog series (featured on Tuesdays) that explores the rich and textured material found in On1Foot in connection with what’s happening in our world today. So, let’s get started!

It feels like the last couple of years have been marked by a progression of horrible natural disasters—the tsunami in South East Asia, the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, the flooding in Sri Lanka, the spate of tornadoes in the United States… I could go on. It’s starting to feel like Mother Nature is pissed off. Thanks to the internet, we are no longer estranged from dis asters that are hundreds of thousands of miles from our own backyards. In truth, I don’t know if all of this is random, theologically significant, a result of climate change, or a predictable course of events.

But I do know this: as a global community, we’re still struggling to respond to natural disasters responsibly and sustainably. Much ink has been spilt (and many keys have been typed) to consider the best methods for emergency aid distribution, long-term development, and how to “build back better.”

Reflecting on natural disasters makes me think about the paradigmatic disaster survival story—the Biblical Noah and his flood. We generally read the story as if it has a happy ending: Noah goes into the arc with two of every animal and his family. He survives the deluge, God promises never to destroy the world again, there’s a pretty rainbow, and the show is over. But after the lovely rainbow and Noah’s thanksgiving sacrifice to God for his survival, the next part of the story is pretty dark: Noah plants a vineyard and gets rip roaring drunk. He strips naked in his tent, has some sort of altercation with one of his sons, and ends up cursing that son and all his decedents.

Which makes me wonder… why don’t we ever hear about Noah’s experience during the flood? It must have been terrible. Trapped in a rocking boat as everyone and everything you ever know is destroyed around you. No wonder Noah wants to get trashed. He’s traumatized, and while his physical needs are being met, nothing is being done to respond to the psychological trauma.

Which brings me back to today: What is being done not only to get food to hungry mouths, and to rebuild infrastructure for the future, but also to respond to and support the healing of the psychological wounds suffered by disaster survivors? One example: In the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, one of AJWS’s partners, MOSCTHA, trained volunteers from the Haitian-Dominican community to provide psychosocial support to earthquake survivors and is continuing to offer peer-to-peer support for youth and women.

How can we do better by them, so they don’t follow Noah in his self-destructive response?