Tag Archives: human suffering

God, the Traffic Engineer

mad driver in a car

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” Job 38:4

I left off in a previous post on “Stuck in Traffic” with a description my near apoplectic plight while stuck in an interminable San Francisco traffic jam. If I’d been driving a Sherman tank I might have been able to clear a path and get to my appointment on time. As it was, in order to keep from getting out of my tiny economy car and leaping atop the cars like they do in the movies, I was forced to stay belted repeatedly reciting “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want!”

That sinking feeling of, “What the *&%$ is going on up there?!” gives way to the point when you don’t really care what’s causing the holdup. You just want it to clear up so you get where you’re going! Nevertheless, I’m the sort that requires, if not a solution, at least some kind of explanation for what’s holding my life up. Where is God when I’m trying to get someplace, especially a place he told me to go? Continue reading

What Jesus Thought About Universal Victim Blaming (Part 5 of 5)

As you can see this is one piece of a five-part essay. If you’d rather read it all at once, you can find it in barneywiget.com 

“I tell you, no!” said Jesus disagreeing in no uncertain terms with their premise that bad things happen exclusively to bad people. Spiritual blamers of all types might be well advised to take his word for it. He knows what we don’t.

Interestingly, in this case he didn’t actually posit an alternative explanation for the source of this man’s suffering. He didn’t lecture them about God’s sovereignty or about the devil’s role in human tragedies. The point he chose to make that day was that those who were so apt to assess the relative quality of others’ spirituality should do their own self-analysis. He used their opinion of other people against them and told them to do what they recommend for everyone else – repent. “Speaking of people whose behavior could very well lead to disaster, you guys should look at yourselves in the mirror and repent!”
Continue reading

What Jesus Thought About Universal Victim Blaming (Part 4 of 5)

As you can see this is one piece of a five-part essay. If you’d rather read it all at once, you can find it in barneywiget.com

Luke 13:1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” 

In the previous scene it was the disciples who presumed that bad behavior led to the man’s congenital blindness. In this one it was a number of unnamed moral critics who equated the suffering of fellow Jews with their sin. It seems they believed that the ones who were slain by sword or crushed by tower got what they deserved. They must have been “worse sinners” than everyone else who were exempt from these catastrophes. The ones who narrowly escaped Pilate’s blade or Siloam’s tower must have been more virtuous than they. That’s the way it works. Bad stuff happens to bad people and good to the good. Continue reading

What Jesus Thought About Universal Victim Blaming (Part 3 of 5)

As you can see this is one piece of a five-part essay. If you’d rather read it all at once, you can find it in barneywiget.com

Picking up where we left off in John 9… Later in the narrative John tells us: His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”

It’s always wrong to talk about someone like he’s not even there! “Excuse me! I’m the guy!” The disciples wanted to dissect him, his neighbors wanted to discuss him, and the Pharisees wanted to debate about him. Jesus seemed to be the only one who actually wanted to do something to help him. Like these people, instead of doing something about the problems and pains of people around us. we’re often stuck in the “paralysis of our analysis.” We sit around conference tables in our suits and argue about the causes for poverty or immorality, when we should don our work clothes and get out and get involved. “It’s getting dark!” Jesus said, “Do you want to talk about it, or do you want to fix it?” Continue reading

What Jesus Thought About Universal Victim Blaming – John 9 & Luke 13 (Part 1 of 5)

As you can see this is one piece of a five-part essay. If you’d rather read it all at once, you can find it in barneywiget.com. 

“I don’t trust Christians,” said Pascal. “They know too much about God.” Of course he spoke sarcastically, since he knew that what we think we know we most likely don’t know at all, especially since what there is to know about God is too big for our small minds. It was probably to our small mindedness – claiming to know more than we know – that the philosopher objected. Continue reading

Not fair! (part two)

When I lived with Bob and Jean I noticed that they routinely pray for parking places – and pretty much everything else, from good deals on tomatoes at Safeway to revival in America. As for revival, since there are other people interceding for that, if it does break out somewhere, we’d have to give partial credit to them. But my point is that the Griggis pray for matters prodigious and paltry and everything in between.

They don’t always get what they ask for, but lots of times they do, and whatever the outcome they always thank God. If they don’t get a parking place close to the store, they reason that they needed the exercise. They’ve been praying – along with literally hundreds of others – for my healing for a few years now. As far as I can tell, the cancer hasn’t entirely gone away yet. But my money’s on the Griggis’ prayers. Continue reading

Is It OK To Feel This Way? (part one)

My friend Dennis asked me if I doubted God during the dark times. “Doubted his fidelity or reality?” I wanted to know. He said the latter. That was easier.

“No,” I said, “I was too p***** at him to doubt that he existed! Of course there’s a God, but I just didn’t like him very much at the time.” Continue reading