I have been following events in Hawaii quite a bit over the last week or two. No one I know is in the danger zone, just my natural interest in volcanoes coming out. Kilauea is rather different beast from, say, Mount St. Helens or Mount Pinataubo (to name two other famous eruptions from my lifetime). It essentially erupts in slow motion, with languid lava flows and beautiful spouts of lava rather than blowing up like a thousand atomic bombs as volcanoes on the rim of the Pacific plate are prone to do. It has been erupting continuously since 1983 (ie. since I was in Grade 12) but it has recently shifted. Lava has sunk back from the main crater, but new fissures are opening up east of the crater, near a pair of residential subdivisions. There are about 20 of these cracks now, of which one (17) has spread lava about a mile and is still going. Mercifully, 17's flow didn't endanger any structures and only twentysomething structures have been damaged so far. A nice video update from today: The thing with Kilauea is that it really highlights our ambiguous relationship with volcanoes. While it does do damage and can kill, it is also crucial to the existence of Hawaii. The Hawaiian islands would not exist without their volcanoes. Basically, there a "hotspot" in the Earth's crust. As the Pacific plate moves, eruptions from the hot spot build up until they break the surface of the water. Each island in the chain, therefore, represents a past position of that hot spot. Right now, it's under the Big Island and is the reason Kilauea exists. And that ambiguous, double-edged relationship can be extended to the world as a whole. Scientists are now fairly sure that volcanoes released a lot of gas and water from the crust of the early Earth, helping build our atmosphere and oceans. Without those, there could and would be no life on Earth, so we literally owe our existence to volcanism. It destroys but it is also a part of what makes our world habitable. It's no coincidence that the two worlds we now think most likely to harbour life in our solar system, Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus, are both active worlds with geysers spouting kilometres into space from subsurface oceans warmed by geothermal activity. And a lot of our relationship with nature is like that. That which creates and builds up can also destroy. Including us. The big difference being that we can think about that dichotomy and make decisions about when it is "a time to tear down and a time to build" (Ecc. 3:3) while volcanoes are the product of natural processes that simply happen. Both the destruction and the construction that result are simply effects, not the purpose.