Category Archives: Theodicy

The American religious olio

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Helsinki Cathedral

The word olio survives in English usage, I suspect, because the New York Times crossword puzzle frequently resorts to using it when it needs three vowels, but not using an “e” as in the similarly-spelled synonym for margarine. The original olio was an Iberian stew consisting of “whatever’s around,” and thus today the word refers to any collection of barely… Read more »

The shape-shifting political gospel of conservative Christianity

The Peaceable Kingdom

Here is the curious thing: When it comes to the embrace of modern medical care. including, or especially vaccinations, there has historically been little difference between how members of conservative Christian denominations and their “mainstream” Christian or their secular neighbors choose treatment modalities — until Covid-19. Some conservative religious types have long championed “natural health” methods rather than conventional medicine…. Read more »

Dopesick, homelessness, and the casualties of culture

Junction

When faced with a friend who has succumbed to prescription opioid addiction, we commonly hear the expression, “There but for the grace of God go I!” But what if it is not divine grace at work here, rather simply the math of probability? I recently viewed the excellent Hulu television miniseries Dopesick, based on a book of the same name… Read more »

When good Christians disagree – part 2

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Good Christians Disagree-2

In Part One of this post I posited that “good Christians disagree” about important things for reasons heavily correlated to two 2000-year-old variants in the faith that still foster both diversity and division. When you envision God primarily as Michelangelo’s bearded white male on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and think of a mighty Christ “sitting on God’s right… Read more »

When good Christians disagree

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The leading Republican Senate candidate in Ohio, Josh Mandel, has already laid down a key marker for the 2022 election, saying on Twitter, “Evangelical Christians, Jewish conservatives and devout Catholics are our army.” I know so many people whom I would consider “good Christians” and they are of all denominational and political stripes. I also have met some really nasty… Read more »

When we become inured to death

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Petrarch's Triumph of Death.

In 2017 and 2018, when all eyes were on several horrific incidents of mass gun violence, the United States was averaging just under one incident of mass gun violence per day (defined by the excellent Gun Violence Archive as four or more people killed or injured in one reported incident). During the pandemic year of 2020, that number rose to… Read more »

The capricious God of Covid

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Dice icon

“At the first glance, the only ‘law’ … seems to be that of Caprice — caprice in inheriting, caprice in transmitting, caprice everywhere, in turn.” — Philosopher William James (1842– 1910) One of the classic examples in an introductory statistics class is the drawing of billiard balls from an opaque sack containing an unknown mix of various colored balls, and… Read more »

Biden, the bishops, and a failure to communicate

Cool Hand Luke

American Catholic bishops have apparently backed off plans to deny the Holy Communion from practicing Catholic Democratic politicians like President Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Comments from the Jesuit Pope Francis and public sentiment appear to have convinced the bishops that this stance would be politically unwise at this time. California Republican and gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner, who in a… Read more »

When ethics and dogma meet politics

Stephen Crane

“Think as I think,” said a man, “Or you are abominably wicked; You are a toad.” And after I had thought of it, I said: “I will, then, be a toad.” — Stephen Crane (1871–1900) It can be dangerous to bisect any part of the world around us into two paths, but I have come to view human expressions of… Read more »

Betting against the house on the Covid vaccines

Slot machines

“You have a greater chance of being in a car accident on the way to getting this vaccine than you have of having a problem from this vaccine. But that’s not how people view risk.” — Paul Offit, vaccine expert at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. Maybe it is because I do not seem to have a gambling gene in my body…. Read more »