Ellis Henican was talking about the story of Rev. Pat Robertson, who made a controversial remark on the current condition of Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon. The story has its punchline at the end, which made me grin a lot during my bumpy ride in the 4 train to Grand Central Link to the AM New York column.
After all, money goes beyond the words of God; but I was more interested in this notion of "being sick as a result of doing something wrong hence being penalized by Supreme Being."
When I was a kid in Japan, I was taught not to do something "wrong," and my Mom always told me that I would be penalized by God. In Japanese it is called "Bachi," literally meaning "punishment by God or Buddha," and comes with a verb "to hit." For example, they say "the Bachi will hit you if you do XYZ," or "the Bachi has hit you because you did XYZ." So, the "Bachi" does implicate some sort of "corporal punishment" in a Japanese sense and I guess that is why it is often used in the context of injuries and diseases: "You got sick because you are bad!!" And indeed, it is a great source of stigma and discrimination as well as prejudice, if you think about it.