Marshburn says he and his wife have talked 15 survivors out of suicide and helped save several marriages. Unbeknownst to the couple, their own marriage was a cause for celebration at the conference. A surprise renewal-of-vows ceremony, timed to the Marshburns' 40th anniversary, took place Saturday night, with the entire family of survivors in attendance and a robed judge officiating. * Everyone was asked to sing along with the boombox to the chorus of a Marshburn family favorite, Alabama's "Angels Among Us."
That song, about the divine hands that intercede on our behalf, poses a theological question—Why me?—that torments surprisingly few victims of this most freakish act of nature. The survivors I spoke with almost all told me the same thing: Their accidents were somehow part of a divine master plan. If so, what were we to make of the violent thunderstorms and dazzling lightning shows that lit up Pigeon Forge all three days of the conference? I asked LeDoux about this, and also about what he thought of the remarkable coincidence that Tennessee Electric had decided to host a conference on the same days in the same hotel as the lightning-strike survivors. He didn't think much of either oddity. In the scheme of things, he said, they just weren't that improbable.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Ebola Story
How our minds build narratives out of disaster.
The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola
PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer
The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics
A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers
Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.