Apr 10 2011

Suffering Fools Gladly

It started in an undergraduate philosophy class. I sat back one day and decided to observe the interchange between professor and students over the problem of suffering. We were going step-by-step through the usual array of arguments, and seemed to be getting nowhere.

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Dec 15 2009

A Messy Business

Life is messy, like making sausages. When you think about it, a lot of food is like this. Pretty much everything from milk to steak to lettuce to mushrooms goes through at least one not-so-pretty stage as it passes from farm to fridge.

Most of us city folks are happy with the hosed-down, shrink-wrapped groceries to be found in the aisles of the nearest megamart. Even there, however, we dare not poke our noses behind the mysterious swinging doors. After several summers in a grocery warehouse, and cleaning up a bakery every night after school, I can personally attest to the principle that ignorance is bliss when it comes to store-bought food.

A little mess along the way is not always a bad thing, of course. A farmer, a mechanic, a construction worker will tell you, in no uncertain terms, that getting your hands dirty is part of the job. Indeed, an entire series on the Discovery Channel is predicated on this principle. Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs, always begins with this word of explanation: “I explore the country looking for people who aren’t afraid to get dirty – hard-working men and women who earn an honest living doing the kinds of jobs that make civilized life possible for the rest of us.”

What about making eternal life possible for the rest of us? In one sense, the task of redemption was a very orderly business. God made a plan and stuck to it. But a lot of the people we encounter along the way are messy. There was nothing neat and tidy about David’s life. We can say the same thing about the lives of Solomon, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rahab… well, you get the picture.

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Jan 5 2009

Doubting Thomas

In my favorite version of The King and I (the one with the shiny-headed Yul Brynner), the courtly children respond in disbelief to the very idea of frozen precipitation. The blustery king is disappointed. He has seen a picture of the Swiss Alps; of course there is such a thing as snow! Anna, the British teacher, is a little more forgiving. The children live in tropical Bangkok; they’ve never seen snow for themselves. “Never seen!” the king retorts, “If they believe only what they see, why do they have schoolroom?”
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Feb 25 2004

Should You See the Passion

By now most of you have probably heard about Mel Gibson’s new movie, The Passion of the Christ. The media have been giving it a lot of attention, labeling it “controversial” and citing claims by Jewish groups that the movie is anti-Semitic. Local news stations have mentioned churches renting out whole theatres so that their members can attend private screenings. Movie reviewers have warned about the blood and gore.
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