Job and the Theodicy Problem,
This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
The October Peaceable Table Is Now Online
1. Job and the Theodicy Problem, part 5
In previous essays, I’ve discussed how Job was treated unfairly by
God, raising questions about God’s goodness. Despite Job’s experience
and the experiences of countless human and nonhumans who are victims
of natural or man-made disasters, I suggest that it is reasonable to
believe that God cares about Creation.
In the Book of Job,
God rewards Job’s faithfulness by restoring him with children and
doubling his wealth. While few of us would be satisfied to have the
children we have raised with love and affection replaced with other
children, this makes sense in the context of that ancient culture, in
which children were seen primarily as possessions who would care for
elderly parents and carry on the family line. Therefore, it seems to
me that the story shows God’s siding with Job, though we contemporary
readers might find the compensation for Job’s losses to be
I think there is a theme of concern for victims
throughout the Bible, though there are troubling exceptions. There are
many teachings in the Hebrew Scriptures about caring for those who are
weak, orphaned, widowed, or otherwise vulnerable, particularly in the
writings of the later prophets. Jesus’ ministry repeatedly calls for
compassion rather than victimization, exemplified by his declaration,
“I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Matthew 9:13, 12:7). However, the
Hebrew Scriptures also describe divinely ordained slaughter of the
peoples of Canaan, and I know of no easy way to reconcile these
accounts of violence with the notion of a loving and merciful God.
On what grounds, then, can I say that God cares about Creation? I
will offer more thoughts on this question next week.
R. Kaufman, M.D.
2. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank
and Mary Hoffman
Are Any Humans in the Bible Really Righteous?
3. The October Peaceable Table Is Now Online
* The Editor's Corner Guest Essay, one of the two
special pieces mentioned above, is entitled "The Elephant Wake for a
Human Being." I would never have believed there could be such a
thing, but there's no question that two separate families of elephants
marched for many hours to meet for a wake for "elephant whisperer"
Lawrence Anthony, who had saved their lives and their sanity. This
version of the story, by Rod Kirby, not only tells the story of the
wake but quotes an account from Anthony himself describing how his
relationship with the elephants began.
* in an Unset Gem,
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who was long in the power of a system run by
people who had let evil take them over, wisely reminds us that it is
not a matter of "evil people" over against "good people," but that the
dividing line is within each human heart.
* On September 18
The New York Times featured a mini-debate between two nutrition
experts, one (Colin Campbell) supporting and one (Nancy Rodriguez)
opposing a vegan diet. Guess which one is funded (in part) by the meat
and egg and dairy industries? See the NewsNotes.
* Thanks to
subscriber Gerald Niles, we have a short Pioneer essay on a
little-known Italian Renaissance figure, Alvise Cornaro, a
onetime-sick man who in his thirties adopted a vegetarian diet for
health reasons, and lived healthily to nearly 100.
October My Pilgrimage story "Being a Vegan Kid" (the other special
piece) is by one Ellen Green, an extraordinary teenager who has been
vegan all her life. In the first installment, written when she was
twelve, she tells some of her clever comebacks to the bullies giving
her a hard time (e.g., using the Jedi mind trick hand-wave gesture,
she says "You do not want to say something stupid in a useless attempt
to annoy me again . . . . You want to sit down and be quiet.") In her
second installment, written this fall just before going off to college
at eighteen, she passes on some of the valuable things she has learned
during the intervening years.
* One of Angela Suarez'
Recipes is an interesting and appealing variant on the "Cannellini
(beans) and Butternut Squash" recipe she featured in an earlier
column. The other is a spiced treat guaranteed to please canine
* The Young Readers' Review features the newest title
by Carl Hiaason, author of Hoot (the film was reviewed in the June
2006 PT). Chomp tells of the adventures of a father-son team of
animal wranglers, together with the son's young friend who is in
flight from her abusive father, working on a questionable reality TV
show being made in the Everglades.
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Don't hesitate to contact us with your comments
on this issue and/or your suggestions for the next one.
the Peaceable Kingdom,
Gracia Fay Ellwood