Why is Gaia suddenly all over the news?

On his call-in show on March 15, Rush Limbaugh unloaded his share of ordnance onto the ground about the recent tragedy in Japan, commenting on a listener’s question:

“The Japanese have done so much to save the planet. ... They’ve given us the Prius. Even now, refugees are still recycling their garbage, and yet Gaia levels them, just wipes them out. Wipes out their nuclear plants, all kinds of radiation. What kind of payback is this?”

That is an excellent question. They invented the Prius. In fact, where Gaia blew up is right where they make all these electric cars. That’s where the tsunami hit. All those brand new electric cars sitting there on the lot. I like the way this guy was thinking. It’s like — it’s like Gaia hit the Prius in [inaudible]. It’s like they were in the crosshairs, if we can use that word, it does. What is Gaia trying to tell us here? What is the mother of environmentalism trying to say with this hit?

And Glenn Beck was talking about this Gaia figure on Monday, blaming the events that struck Japan on some higher power, “whether you call it Gaia or whether you call it Jesus.”

Both Beck and Limbaugh thrive on this sort of noisemaking and controversy. “Just ignore them, and they’ll go away,” everyone always says. “Don’t dignify that with a response.”

True. But someone needs to speak up for the ancient Greek deities! They don’t need to be dragged into this. In fact, no deity does. But Gaia is so obviously wrong!

The misappropriated blame for this kind of event is usually reserved for more common divine figures. They tend to be traditional hard-liners, the Old Testament God who Smiteth and So Forth, or Jesus, when he’s Extremely Disappointed In You for engaging in some kind of megachurch-denounced behavior. You never see anyone say things like, “Oh, man, another flu epidemic. We must really have bothered Poseidon!” No one runs around shouting that this is the Wrath of Zeus, or muttering, “Oil spill? I told you we’d ticked Cronos off!” And there’s a simple reason for this: It would be patently idiotic.

But the kind of finger-pointing that goes on with our more mainstream deities is no less foolish — we’re just used to it by now. With every disaster, some nincompoop points a finger at God. We don’t notice how absurd it is — until someone starts press-ganging the Ancient Greeks.

And the ancient Gaia didn’t really take blame for any seismic activity — if anything, that was Poseidon. But according to Rush, try to do something nice for her, and — wham! You see how these women are.

So why this weird appropriation? Is this something to do with Women’s History Month? What’s the thought process? Does someone think that TV audiences and radio listeners are sitting there saying, “Judeo-Christian blame theology doesn’t move me, but I really respect those ancient Greek earth personifications!”

And if Rush cares about Gaia, why isn’t he off getting bones read by a soothsayer? Where’s his staff augur? Where are his hecatombs? “Don’t be ridiculous!” you say?