"Help me, help me, sweet Jesus, help. I'm going to die."

Natalie Lewis, 24, Ginny Doyle, 44, and a still-unidentified pilot died when a hot air balloon burst into flames shortly after takeoff on Friday night near the University of Richmond. Horrified onlookers heard the women screaming for help as they desperately jumped from the basket to escape the flames.

"Help me, help me, sweet Jesus, help. I'm going to die. Oh my God, I'm going to die," witnesses reported hearing one of them scream as the gondola and balloon separated.
(Source)

Jesus did not perform a miracle to rescue the woman as she cried out to him. Why not? Google search featured a blog entry where Google user and atheist Tessa Schlesinger asked this very question. She's been flooded with support, condemnation and (of course) explanations from religious who claim to know the answer.

A sample:

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"...I believe some people are more "God-obsessed" and angry - and so willing to be nasty about faith that they lose the compassion that even non believers have.  No offense to you sir.  It is a tasteless comment on a horrific death of 3 human beings.  It is also notable to me that this person who cried out in sheer terror as her life was ending is probably in the presence of the God she cried out to.  I feel badly for the families in mourning."

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God does not work in mysterious ways - he works EXACTLY as if he does not exist.  Keep up.  ;-)

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"Atheists often wonder why they are viewed negatively. For my part, it's because they can't resist saying "where's your Messiah now, eh?" when tragedy strikes."

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"I have had many a prayer unanswered in my life so far and I still believe that God exists and that he is good. Why? Because he always comes through in the end even if it's in a way I don't expect. God promises to hear prayers and he says that he will answer them, but you're missing the whole point! The point of "If you ask my father for a fish, will he give you a stone?" is not that God will give you exactly what you want every single time. If that were true, our lives would be a complete mess. What Jesus meant by that example is that God gives good gifts to his children when they ask, and sometimes we have to go through hard times in order to receive them and fully appreciate them. Indeed, God works in mysterious ways, but he promises to bring good to those who love him and he never leaves us without instruction."

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"Wow! I came to a different conclusion. I was thinking of all the people who die tragically and how few times I hear of them crying out to God or Jesus in that moment. Here is a victorious woman who probably loved God dearly. She was ushered in to Gods' presence because of Jesus death for her. It is much more tragic to be facing death and having no one to cry out to but yourself. We all die eventually. You should read "Foxes Book of Martyrs" and see the incredible miracles of people being burned alive and praising God until their body fell apart in the flames. God be with the friends, family and students as they say goodbye. I will remember this cry to Jesus, our only hope for forgiveness."

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Shoulda prayed to Joe Pesci.  Woulda been just as useful.

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"I must say that the "comment" smacks tasteless, unnecessary, and fundamentally inappropriate within the context of the dying moments of those individuals.  But then it is your prerogative to comment as you see fit.  That said, it would appear that your "comment" showed more desire for opportunistic expression and exploitation of a tragedy. Not enlightened humanism. It displayed a great unwillingness to consider that "sometimes" that which we cannot see or explain within our own selectively skewed purview (be that out of conviction, indoctrination, academic enrichment, ignorance or simple obstinance) can still ring true for some but not others. Human compassion and love were nowhere to be found.  An individual calls on the Lord and some earth bound observer always has to take issue with it from an "enlightened" "on high" perspective.  The death of an individual who cry's out for help does not disprove that the God of the Bible is "incapable" or "absent" or "insufficient." Nor does it technically prove anything "on face value." It is within the overarching intention and framework of scripture examined "within appropriate context," along with faith and belief as a result of personal experience that one comes to understand that there "just might be" something beyond the supposed self sufficiency of strict rationalism or blind denial.  Still others might come to an opposite conclusion.  And that's fine. Unfortunate, but fine.  I am a scientist, but from 'my experience' all is not "science," if you will, and science is not all."
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Obviously some other 'christian' either had a stronger faith or prayed more fervently that they wouldn't be save. Concluding, prayers are in fact answered. 

And so on...


Tessa Schlesinger claims she was simply asking a legitimate question. Even if taken at her word, was this done in poor taste? Do you think Schlesinger accomplished anything positive in starting a discussion this way?

Tags: blogging, death, prayer

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"Help me Jesus, I'm going to die"? Bad wording. Perhaps if she had yelled "help me Jesus, I want to survive"...What an awful thing to say

What do you think of that, Strega? 

Irony is not the opposite of wrinkly

Don't know sir   ;-)

Hey, long time no see.

Hopefully Kelley decides to help you wash the car; it's possible though she has something else she must do instead, or she's piqued at you over something-or-other, or...

Xians often acknowledge that god's answer to a prayer isn't necessarily the answer you *wanted* to hear, as they weasel their way around the fact that the alleged response doesn't differ statistically from what would happen if there weren't a god.

As for the woman's wording, I believe that though it does look a bit weird to us, that it IS consistent with Xian theology; she knows she's about to die, and is asking, not to be saved from the inevitable here on earth, but rather to be admitted into heaven instead of that other place--which, coincidentally, is portrayed as similar to being stuck in a burning gondola forever.

Grins, hey hey!

Wow this actually happened near me and Im just reading about it the first time. Very sad, the blonde was actually very pretty. 

"Atheists often wonder why they are viewed negatively. For my part, it's because they can't resist saying "where's your Messiah now, eh?" when tragedy strikes

Interesting. If their Messiah actually ever showed up in tragedies, then Atheists wouldn't need to ask that question ever. The fact that he never does show up, is the reason why Atheists keep reminding believers of that question. 

Someone should tell that to the person whoever wrote that statement.

Yes, but it depends on the Messiah.  Maybe there's a Messiah and He doesn't get involved in balloon accidents.  We can never prove it one way or the other. 

At the same time, I don't believe that being catty in situations like this is a great way to evangelize atheism. Beyond that, it's tacky.

Too right.  We don't like it when it's the other way around. 

She had a legitimate question. And she asked it in poor taste.

i worked as a 911 dispatcher for 11 years.  I've listened to a handful of people die on the phone, and I tell you, there is nothing more heart-wrenching than hearing someone start praying, "Lord help me lord jesus I'm not gonna make it please lord jesus" over and over...because they never, ever, ever make it.  They know they are dying, and some people just instinctively, for whatever reason, turn to that chant in their last few minutes.  I don't even think they know they're doing it.  Just reading the post, my stomach knotted up in flashbacks of hearing people die.

It sucks.  No matter what people believe.  They don't really think he's going to help them right then, they just don't know what else to do or say. 

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