21 July 2008

Special Edition: The Holy Folk Reply

In an earlier post, I quoted Barbara Ehrenreich’s sharp essay on God, on the theme Why God Let’s Bad Stuff Happen, which was written in her new book, This Land is Their Land. Essentially, Ehrenreich said that God obviously wasn’t on the job when He let the Christmas Tsunami kill 250,000 people in Southeast Asia a couple of years ago. The post was an email sent to various persons of faith who I love & respect, and I said I’d publish their responses. I received one Holy reply and one Informed Lay reply. Here they are:

Bro. Joel (Pastor in Indiana):

"Bad stuff happens in nature, and to search for a "purpose" is useless and even superstitious. Some televangelists and other "spiritual leaders" pontificate, usually point out that God agrees with them about their favorite sin to preach against. But the ones that promote themselves the most and have a lot to say about just about everything are the ones to trust the least. The fact is, things happen, and if I am not mistaken, all of the natural occurrences we see as bad are just the result of the laws of physics and other natural laws operating the way they operate.

"The tsunami happened because a 700-mile-long plate finally yielded to the pressure and suddenly popped up 30 feet. It displaced a lot of water, and the result was a big wave. There was no moral purpose for it happening.

"A storm, which is a natural occurrence, hit New Orleans. It had no higher purpose. It was a storm. They were not prepared and are still trying to figure out how to rebuild. Maybe that part of it has a higher purpose--that we should learn to be more prepared. But even that part of it isn't God acting; it's just human error. (And speaking of human error, no one seems to ask whether it is wise to use _any_ resources to rebuild a city that is below sea level and near the coast.)

"Why does God "permit" bad things? Well, He created it all, established the laws of physics, etc., and normally does not interfere with them (there are a few notable exceptions in the Old and New Testaments, but they are the exceptions, not the rule).

"Read Genesis for some insight. Since we left the garden, the world has existed more or less undisturbed with its natural laws pretty much operating as we know they operate.

"By the way, it appears your author, Barbara Ehrenreich, has done what most authors do after their first few books and pulled out the stuff that wasn't good enough to be published when she was less known and published it all together. It's probably good for a few hundred thousand dollars. Maybe I am cynical, but a good clue is that the author's name is printed pretty large and above the title."

[Roger’s note: Wow, Joel, it is sooooo cynical to observe that when the author’s name is writ large, that’s the selling point, rather than the pithy Truth of the content. Sadly, it seems to be true in the publishing life. And it could also be said that This Land is Their Land is largely the sweepings from the floor of Ehrenreich’s hard drive - and indeed, will be said in the next Dispatches column in The West Virginia Lawyer. It would be so much easier to simply praise the members of My Tribe and curse the Others. Why, oh why, are you so dead set on this reasoned thinking thing?]

Another response came from dear friend Melissa:

"when God *allows* bad things to happen isn't He just allowing us to suffer the consequences of our own actions? What is it that caused the increase in hurricanes and their intensity? Global Warming. Who caused Global Warming? Us. Therefore, it's our fault, not God's. Almost every single thing that is wrong in this world that we like to blame on God, can ultimately be traced back to human beings. Part of having free will is that we get to suffer the results of it, so when we say why does God allow things that in actuality we caused - aren't we really saying that we wish He hadn't given us free will?

"Addendum: Can I add that the reason that the fundies spew that crap about why God did this is because if they can blame it on, "suppression of christians, gays, sexual immorality," then they don't have a share in the guilt. When in fact they do."

[Roger’s note: Melissa, dearest, you humble me and make my heart glad - humble me in that I am again reminded that, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout nothin’, and make my heart glad in that people can indeed really communicate openly and honestly in this age where we seem to honor only the shrill and the self-righteous. By the way, I think that Bro. Joel would disagree on the use of the "fundamentalist" term, as having been hijacked by those with a political rather than faith agenda. If he has something to say here, I'll publish it, and I think he's addressed that (as well as lots of other faith-based stuff) in his own blog, link to the right.]

Pippa passes.


19 July 2008

I don’t know what I like, but I know art; an unpleasant visit from Dr. Reality; and other observations on Saturday night

Art and the discriminating gent:

Down the Marion County Courthouse, it’s easy to become accustomed to the beauty or uniqueness of the place. The Division I Courtroom is simply the finest, most traditional and most beautiful courtroom in the state. It is nicer, for example, than that in which Gregory Peck tried his murder case in To Kill a Mockingbird. Most of the floors are marble, and the place is lousy with columns. (In a future post, I’ll reveal the scandalous truth of how the Courthouse was made necessary and funded. Remind me.)

On the third floor in the hallway (more of a narthex kind of thing, huge open space, open to the second floor, marble railings, the courtrooms and offices opening off of it) there are “vaults,” half cylinder shaped gaps in the ceiling on 3 sides. At the end of each of these is a fresco. (I think technically a frescoe is a painting done in wet plaster. I don’t know if they are technically frescoes. They are painted somehow on plaster on the walls way up high.) Anyway, 100+ years of dirt (much accumulated when the Courthouse was heated by coal and when everyone smoked) made the paintings dull and nearly unviewable. Somewhere, the County Commission came up with $40,000+ to bring in a couple of professional art restorers to clean the paintings. On each end of the narthex are fairly ordinary depictions of Lady Justice flanked by Industry and Truth or stuff like that. This is American Primitive stuff, I guess, which probably inspired the hell out of the turn of the 20th Century folk. The fresco over the front stairwell is unique. It’s 30 feet up and shows David Morgan. David Morgan was one of the first settlers in the Tygart Valley, and was a renowned “Indian fighter.” (The newest bridge across the Monongahela is the “David Morgan Bridge,” but it is commonly known by the more descriptive name “Third Street Bridge.”) Now, far be it from me to interpret art. I remember “learning” (i.e., being told about and not understanding a damn word of it) Picasso’s painting Guernica, done in 1937 to commemorate a large-scale air attack on a defenseless Spanish village by German-backed revolutionaries. Guernica is a huge painting, done only in black, white & grey. I don’t see any bombs, airplanes, blood, or such. There are light bulbs, birds, bulls, stigmata and sort of faces. It’s probably very meaningful - at least that’s what the professor in college said. I do wonder why a famous artist like Picasso wouldn’t use some damn COLOR? Well, back to David Morgan. In this fresco, he is a fine figure of a man shown prominently on the left in the foreground. He’s shown in neat buckskins of a ruddy hue, he has a fierce and courageous expression, and his strong right arm is raised, holding a gleaming tomahawk. To the right, cowering behind a tree in the background, we see a shabbily dressed, skulking Indian (probably a Shawnee), who no doubt is about to be dispatched as he richly deserves to his heathen happy hunting ground. This painting just pisses me off, and I’m not sure why. It feels more jingoist than racist, it’s a clash of cultures thing. And the story it tells is a lie. The white man didn’t win because “he” was inherently physically or morally superior. There were a whole lot more whites and they were backed by technology and industry that the Shawnee, etc., couldn’t match and on which they became dependent. There is a purity and balance to the way that the Indian adapted to Nature. The story of the decline of the Shawnee is nothing more than Gresham’s Law once again at work.

Does that mean that I’d like to chuck this society thing and live like a Shawnee? Sometimes, guys, it certainly does.

More on the Shawnee soon.

The World is Not Always a Nice Place; Deal with it

Here is either a link or a web address to a YouTube video. (Friend Tree, when she stops by, will doubtless gig me about my computer incompetency, and Set Me Straight.) This is a confession of a murderer. It is unpleasant. So have a Coke and a smile, and watch Dancing with the Stars. Or take a view of some of our Reality.


S/He needs insurance

While blowing through Western Maryland yesterday, a Klingon warbird (disguised as a Chevy Malibu) wearing Erie Insurance insignia blew by me. That’s impressive in itself, because I wasn’t poking along. Ever curious, I kicked Dudley into overdrive and paced this person for a while. However, s/he was going a speed that made even me and the German engineers a little antsy, and s/he was one of the 80% of Americans who say that they are better than average drivers. S/he was in the lower half of that group, based on inconsistent braking in the middle of turns and significantly changing direction in the middle of turns. I backed Dudley down to merely fast and either s/he turned off or the angels who protect children and idiots were on the job, because I didn’t run across any smoking remains the rest of the way. The fact that energy increases with the square of speed makes higher speeds real serious real quick.

Tomorrow, I suppose, more of Pastor Josh on the Jewish Monarchies. I can't wait until I hear about the Lockheed Martin connection. (Friend Josh knows that I'm pretty cynical on this topic.)

Pippa passes.


18 July 2008

A professional cynic at work; do not try this at home

Rank hypocrisy

By actual mostly scientific test today, I find that the Audi gets 21 miles per gallon going uphill into the mountains at Warp Factor 4.5. So when I complain about our profligate energy use, know that I’m part of the problem.

Ring tones & fire trucks

We just replaced our office cell phones (something like 10 phones) because of some hardware thing that I neither know nor care about. (Aside - one bad effect of Amy assuming a judgeship is that perhaps the Cell company will have to deal with me, and the business rep will have to learn how to call 911 and report a berserker-customer in his office with a tomahawk. I don’t deal well with the Cell company. The last time I went into their store, son Tim was with me, and he told me that I was a moron.) Let’s see, yeah, replacing cell phones. Anyway, son Tim asked what kind of ring tone I want. Well, we each have sounds that we immediately notice. A young mother (or a woman who has ever been a young mother) will instantly hear the sound of a little baby crying. A muscle car enthusiast will hear a V-8's rumble. A coal truck driver will hear the sound of a Jake Brake. And so forth. So I told Tim the sound that I would recognize immediately. A bell. As in a telephone. Don’t download a ringtone, no songs, nothing cute, a damn bell. At least I won’t have to listen to Amy’s ring tone much longer, at least not constantly. It’s the WVU fight song, and I would just slightly rather leave the room to avoid hearing it than rip the integrated circuits out of the phone and render them into dust.

He took that as a challenge, and he found something that is indeed attention getting to me. For years, much of my life revolved around listening to EMS dispatch “tones”, the sounds that activate radios, house sirens, etc. He found a ringtone that consisted of a dispatch, and in another paroxysm of hypocrisy, now I use a custom ringtone and not a bell. Of course, others who hear the phone ring ask me, “What the HELL is that?”

That reminds me of a study done 20+ years ago to find out what was the most noticeable color for fire trucks. By using cameras focused on peoples’ eyes to track movement, scientists studied how quickly people were attracted to different colors. They found that a color called “lime yellow” (the color of the T-shirts that highway workers have started wearing lately) edged out hot pink as the most noticeable color. Then they found the phenomenon of “social visibility.” They found that when a driver looked in his/her mirror at the sound of a siren and saw a big lime yellow truck with red lights, the mental process went something like “What the HELL is that? Damn! Could it be a fire truck? Could be! I’d better pull over.” When they saw the same truck in red, being used to red fire trucks, they reasoned “Fire truck! Pull over!” They think they validated this notion by finding other things that people noticed more quickly even though they were not large or brightly colored. They found that the most “socially” visible vehicle was a black Harley ridden by a big, hairy guy in motorcycle gang colors.

Book study tonight

Book study was tonight at the church, led by Pastor Josh. This was, I confess, a hard day. Had this been a meeting of the Amateur Cynics Society, I would have been asked to leave, because I’ve lost my amateur status.

Better humanness than lawyering, and I’ll take it

I took in a seemingly minor case last week which needed a simple petition and order this week. Last night around 6 PM, the case blew up badly. The other party was represented by dearest friend Vanessa Lynn Rodriguez, One option was to say hell with it, we’ll litigate over some months to come, makes lots of money on these people and let the havoc screw up their lives. Frankly, that kind of litigation takes a lot of time and skill, and generates zealous fees. But we worked into the night, and again pre-dawn this morning, got a hearing with Judge Born before his day officially started (which he didn’t have to do), patched together an order and got it entered (i.e., signed by the judge) to commit everyone to a solution. This is NOT to say that there was great lawyering. Like I say, the litigation process would have taken work and skill. This solution took humanity and a bit of subtlety, and was far better for everyone affected by this case. Vanessa's paralegal and fellow, who is a pleasant and sweet fellow, and also the biggest and strongest man I think I've ever seen, went over to monitor that what needed done by the people got done peacefully.

Trusting car guys

Do you trust the people who work on your car? Perhaps this is a small town thing, I don’t know. The Audi had a tire that had kept doing down. The tread on the read looked bad, and the tread on the front looked so-so. I took it to the guys I know at Gwynn Tire. I told them I wanted them to pretend that it was their car, their money, and to do whatever they would do in that case. Later in the day, I picked it up, 4 new radials, reasonable price, no problem. I have no hint of a suspicion that they did anything but give me good, honest service, and I’m glad of that.

Barbershop sell-out

For 30 years, I’ve been going to the same barbers. One of them retired, and Louie, the one left, has a small shop at the foot of Hospital Hill. I’ve talked about the old-fashioned male-bonding thing that goes on there. But the last two haircuts I’ve gotten have been at . . . at . . . jeez, this is embarassing . . . at WalMart. Pop in, tell them crew cut, use a #2, buzz, buzz, it’s done and I’m outta there. I’ve been seduced by the corporate king. Mother Mary, comfort me. Oh, I did wonder at the end of the haircut what crawling dog sprinkled all of the grey hair all over the cape thing they put on you.

Numb me? Nuts.

I have a new dentist, a young woman. She takes the time to explain what she is doing. Since the last time I had dental work done, they’ve started using some sort of white epoxy product instead of the metallic amalgam as the filling material. She expressed some surprise that I refused to be numbed. It’s dental work. It’ll hurt. Numbing is a pain in the ass, and not something to fear. Lest this be some sort of declaration of courage, it’s not. Let’s see, what is scary to me. Ok - Horses. Being around a 1,500 pound stupid animal that can kill you, THAT’S scary.

Goliath’s real nemesis

Pastor Josh is still doing the Jewish monarchy thing, and hit David & Goliath last week. I’m thinking that the guy who invented the slingshot isn’t getting NEAR enough credit here. After all, God made all men, but it was. Col. Colt who made all men equal.

Pippa passes.


13 July 2008

Sunday morning, 9 AM

Commemorating petty idiocy

By now, I should not be surprised at the shameless self aggrandizement and sheer chutzpah of public officials. But, oh, my simple mind cannot grasp it all. Nearly every day for years, I’ve passed by a bronze plaque on the ground floor of the Marion County Courthouse. The Courthouse is a grand sandstone Greek Revival structure with columns and marble and woodwork and frescoes (of that more soon), but the first floor is pretty dull – you walk past the USGS benchmark set into the stone by the front door into a drab hallway where you find the County Clerk, the public bathrooms, and the elevator. Beside the men’s bathroom, you find this bronze plaque which proudly announces that the HVAC Installation and Electrical System Renovation was done in 1995, and it sets forth solemnly for all Time the names of the county commissioners, the county administrative assistant, the chair of the building committee, and the engineer. At current prices for cast bronze, this would cost $500+ today. (At around $1.50 per square inch.) Of public money. Is this for some legitimate historic purpose? Will archaeologists excavating the Courthouse one day revel over this plaque like inscriptions on the plain at Giza? Will so and so the engineer be revered like Goombah the Grand Vizier of King Tut? I rather doubt it. The bronze is simply a posting of foolish peacocks’ names, to brag that they were public officials when they had heating & airconditioning and wiring done. Maybe they think that their “fame” will somehow live on after their corporeal bodies have returned to dust. What a sad and pathetic notion. I absolutely would be ashamed.
(Note for urbanites: The United States Geological Survey places "benchmarks," which are bronze markers places with unblievable precision using pre-GPS technology, and which are referenced on the USGS topographical maps.)

Voice from an Island

Friend Sarai called Friday morning, and it was sooo nice to hear voice to match to the smooth, kind and pithy prose. This was a wonderful surprise, and a pleasant reminder on a Friday morning that people of good will are all in this life together

Senator Gramm is Partly Right (Extreme Right, too)

Senator McCain’s economic advisor, Senator Gramm (who has a Ph.D. in economics) terms Americans “whiners” because they are complaining about a recession or about economic troubles. He boasts that the Economy is growing at 1% per annum, so we shouldn’t be bitching about off-shoring, out-sourcing, down-sizing and so forth, nor the fact that it’s cheaper to manufacture goods with slave labor and maximum pollution in China, ship them using slave labor and maximum pollution on ships to ill-monitored ports of entry, and distribute them to Walmart where laid-off American workers can’t afford them, even in the improbable event that they are goods that those Americans actually need. Senator Obama, sensing an issue, has responded quickly that life is hard and no one can blame the American people for being discouraged and looking for a sugar daddy, and oh, the humanity, Americans are chaff in the wind. Fie on everyone. It is easy for Senator Gramm to channel the ROTC guy in the final scene of Animal House, shrieking in the midst of Chaos, “All is well! All is well!” He doesn’t worry about $4 gasoline and his Congressional pension and government health care is secure. And it is politically advantageous for Senator Obama to give everyone a “There, there, it isn’t your fault, poor dear, poor dear, daddy fix, daddy fix,” knowing that daddy is really thinking 24/7 about 270 electoral votes and when & if daddy gets them, daddy damn well won’t fix and that any solution requires that everyone will get off their ass and work, as well as holding the money sucking whores of Congress, lobbying and corporate elitism accountable. So the Gramms are beating people down and cussing them for not shouting, yes, master, beat me more, and the Obamas are counting votes and limos, and nobody is going to the head of the pack and leading from the front. Give us a new Nintendo, they think, and we’ll stare at the electrons and zone out. Maybe it’s time to get pissed off.

These Are My People; Judges Should Be More than Judges

Yesterday, I went down to Clarksburg to present a talk to a group of potential adoptive parents on the legal part of the process. I really, really enjoy talking to small groups of people like this. In doing some philosophizing with someone recently (of that more anon), I’ve commented that “these are my people.” I am just not a Mercedes-3-piece-black-suit-leather-briefcase-wingtip kind of guy. I did this for a national agency that buddy Brenda is associated with. Gee, Brenda and I have been doing these cases for 30 years now. Amazing. At one point, I commented that the “horror stories” about Courts doing stupid things are mostly urban myths, that lawyers and judges are people who live in the real world, not theoretical-minded academics who will screw a child because a comma got lost. That touched someone’s sore spot and, I confess, sometimes the tomahawk does cut a wide swath. So, let me say that I don’t dislike academics. One of my very favorite books is Das Glasperlenspiel (The Glass Bead Game) by Hermann Hesse, where the fictional academic institution “Castalia” is a beautiful notion integrated into society, even though Hesse never has to say precisely what the Castalians do. Sometimes, my daydreams are of an academic retreat where calm matters of the mind, and reason and peace and thought and philosophy will advance and some new Truths will be found. But that’s not where I live. And, indeed, a pure academic viewpoint makes for a poor judiciary. The greatest judges I have known have been really smart people - accomplished in academic pursuits - who have participated in non-academic things and thus been connected with humanity. Perhaps we should devise a list of activities for prospective judges and give them weight. Here’s an off-the-cuff partial list, with the number of points for each event:

Be with someone while they die - 10 points
Serve in the military - 15
. . . in combat - 50
Have kids - 25
Coach a kids’ sports team - 10
Try 10 jury cases to verdict - 20
Be a volunteer EMT, fireman, auxilliary police officer, Red Cross worker - 25
Change your own oil - 5
Attend a religious service of something other than your own faith once a year or more - 10
Attend a religious service of your own faith 10 times a year - 10
Isolate yourself to consciously meditate 10 times a year - 10
Do what the Boy Scouts would consider a “good turn” every week - 20
Go with someone to a movie that you don’t want to see - 3
Increase your credit rating by 200 points - 10
Read 50 books of 200+ pages in one calendar year - 15
. . . including 5 biographies - 5
. . . including 5 histories - 5
. . . including 5 current events - 5
. . . including 5 science - 5
Clean up vomit or shit from a stranger - 3
Work a blue collar job for one year - 15
Ride a motorcycle 5,000 miles - 2
Spend 50 nights camping - 5
Stay married or in a stable residential relationship for 10 years - 10
Start a fire without a lighter or a match - 1
Graduate in the upper 1/3 of your law school class if you attend a 3rd tier or 4th tier school - 5
Graduate in the upper 2/3 of your law school class in you attend a 2nd tier school - 6
Graduate from a 1st tier law school - 7

Well, that’s MY partial list. How about you? What would you add? What activities would you award “life experience points” to?

And in my system, you’d need, say, 50 points to become a trial judge, and 75 points to become an appellate judge - and 100 points for the U.S. Supreme Court. Did you know there there are U.S. Supreme Court justices who have never looked a jury or a human client in the eye?

So, I must persist. Judging is too important a job for people trained just as judges.

Send me your list, what seems important to you as the experiences of one fit to judge their fellow citizens, and I’ll publish a revised scale in a future post.

Pippa passes.


06 July 2008

An email which turned into a post

I wrote a "quick" email to 5 pastors who I love & respect, because I just finished a book with an interesting essay. They are Bro. (genetic & Masonic) Joel in Indiana, Pastor Josh, Parson Jim, & Mother & Father Kris & Dick who, oddly enough, did a study a year before Katrina that it was going to be a real bitch getting people without cars out of New Orleans if a Category 5 hurricane hit. Prophetic? Or just realistic that it's stupid to put a port city below sea level, and strand people there?

By the way, Kris & Dick - The Field Club burned down. (That's where they married LaJ and I.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the book. Well, read on:

Holy folk -

Barbara Ehrenreich is a noted liberal author. (Footnote - except that emails ain’t got no footnotes - the assignment of emotional & judgmental indices to words and the prevalence of the hijacking of our language alternately bores me and pisses me off - this includes “liberal,” “fundamentalist,” “evangelist,” “gay,” “choice,” just to name a few. I am a liberal. OK, and a moderate. And a conservative. And a boy scout. And a mason. And a christian. And a poor marksman. And a snappy dresser. Get over it.) Where was I? Oh, yeah, off on a parenthetical rant - anyway, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote Nickel & Dimed and Bait & Switch, two very focused liberal books dealing with economic issues, the rich, the poor, and the misappropriation of power, both of which I heartily recommend.

Her latest book is This Land is Their Land (2008), and based upon my enjoyment of her prior 2, I bought it in print. (Going to review it, too) However, it’s something of a disappointment, being a collection of 50+ short essays on various traditional liberal topics, loosely grouped. Not that I don’t agree with a lot of what she says, but it is a lot of the same-old, same-old. (Counter-argument - folks haven’t gotten the point of the same-old, same-old yet, so what’s the matter with repeating it?) (Am fickle, will travel.)

There is an essay on God permitting Evil and Bad Stuff that uses rather lurid language and makes the argument rather strongly. Inasmuch as Gutenberg and Xerox weakened copyright, and the scanner administered the coup de grace (and I also claim fair use), the following is about a third of that essay. I offer this for comment.

God Owes Us an Apology

The tsunami of sea water that hit South Asia was followed instantly by a tsunami of spittle as the religious sputtered to rationalize God’s latest felony. Here we’d been, placidly killing one another a few dozen at a time in Iraq, Darfur, Congo, Israel, and Palestine, when along comes the deity and whacks a quarter million in a couple of hours between breakfast and lunch. On CNN, NPR and Fox News . . . men and women of the cloth weighed in solemnly on His existence, His motives and even his competence to continue as Ruler of Everything.

Theodicy, in other words – the attempt to reconcile God’s perfect goodness with the manifest evils of His world – has arisen from the waves. On the retro, fundamentalist side, various clergymen of the cloth announced that the tsunami was the rational act of a deity enraged by (take your pick): the suppression of Christianity in South Asia, pornography and child trafficking in that same locale, or, in the view of some Muslim commntators, the bikini-clad tourists at Phuket.
[Aside - this makes as much sense as the Kansas Westboro nutjobs connecting Iraq and homosexuality. I also find it a gross offense to presume that all those flying a fundamental or literal banner would figure that the tidal wave was some sort of just punishment.] On the more liberal end of the theological spectrum, God’s spokespeople hastened to stuff their fingers in the dike even as the floodwaters of doubt washed over it. Of course God exists seems to be the general consensus. And of course He is perfectly good. It’s just that His jurisdiction doesn’t extend to tectonic plates. Or maybe it does and he tosses us an occasional grenade like this just to see how quickly was can mobilize to clean up the damage. Besides, as the Catholic priests like to remind us, “He’s a ‘mystery,’ “ . . .

The clerics who struggled to make sense of the tsunami must not have noticed that this was hardly the first display of God’s penchant for wanton, homicidal mischief.
[And although Ehrenreich doesn’t mention it, the Old Testament is rather full of examples of God’s touchiness.]

Lee Strobel in The Case for Faith and The Case for Christ makes an argument which I find wandering (in the former) and which I just can’t follow at all (in the latter.) Perhaps the real answer is that this is unknowable, and perhaps we will be given the Truth in the Fullness of Time, and perhaps we won’t. Given that God has made us rational beings (footnote again - I have demonstrated, as have most folks I know, that this isn’t even usually true), it feels positively un-Biblical to have this question hanging out there.

And so, holy folk, with whom I have had hours of learning, argument, and occasional harmless fun, what is the answer? Why does our loving, good God permit really, really bad things to happen?

At the last minute, I have determined that I’ll be more careful with the fair use thing, and copy this into the blog, and I will faithfully publish any comments that y’all choose to make for publication.

I am copying this to other than holy folk, too. As we all know, anything worth doing is worth over-doing.

Pippa passes.