A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring :
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
-- Alexander Pope
I cannot remember when I first fell in love with the English language, but subjectively, it seems like I could have fallen in love with it in utero. (My parents tell me I talked at an exceptionally young age, and both times I took the GRE, I blew the top of the scale off the language-skills section.) So it always irritates me to no end to look at the way people misuse and abuse the English language. (It also irritates me when people misuse foreign words that are imported into English, like the German Weltanschauung and Angst, but these are rants for another time.) Sometimes the frustration cro
Over the years of studying and dealing with both the practitioners and the practice of theodicy, I have developed a pretty accurate set of antennae for detecting when even people of undisputed integrity and good will have gone “a bridge too far” in their zeal to “justify the ways of God to man” by defending conduct that, in other contexts, would be assessed as unambiguously criminal. In such cases, God is allowed to breeze by despite conduct that would earn a human a war-crimes trial at The Hague. No devout monotheist is exempt from this risk, not even the most temperate, rational, and tolerant. Fr. Ron Rolheiser is a quintessentially temperate, rational, and tolerant man par excellence, both professionally and personally, as I can attest from having met him, spoken with him one-to-on
A little over a week ago, as this is written (28 October 2016), I published a “Skeptic’s Collection” column in which I adopted a rather “contrarian” view of three well-known texts in the Bible: Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac (the Akedah), the Annunciation, and the Crucifixion. As I said at the time, though without using this analogy, all three narratives have a kind of Jungian “shadow” side, i.e., morally and psychologically dubious aspects that most Christians are careful to avoid thinking about, but that, in the name of simple intellectual integrity, deserve to be acknowledged and foregrounded, even on a cursory reading. There are several ways of dealing with this textual “shadow,” one of which is asserting that, since God gave human beings intelligence and a rational faculty,