“Why does God permit evil, including allowing the innocent to suffer? This is the hardest question for theists to answer, and an entire branch of theology, called ‘theodicy,’ is given over to its study. [Ted] Turner had seen his beloved sister linger in extreme pain before she died young, his prayers for her unavailing. I got the impression from being around him this weekend that it’s not so much that Turner doesn’t believe in God as he doesn’t want to give God, who allowed his sister to be crushed by disease, the satisfaction of recognition.
“How do any religious believers who have never been tested as severely know that we would fare any better than Ted Turner has? The actor Stephen Lang, who plays Stonewall Jackson in ‘Gods & Generals,’ said that Jackson would greet any news from the battlefield with a terse ‘very good,’ because to a man of Jackson’s deep Calvinist piety, even bad news was evidence that God’s divine plan was being worked out. Young Ted Turner didn’t have that kind of faith. How many of us do? This is why Christians, in their most well-known prayer, petition God not to put them to the test.
“Ted Turner will no doubt say something gratuitously obnoxious about Christianity again. And he’ll apologize again. Then he’ll do it yet again. And yet, after this weekend, it won’t bother me like it used to. Regarding this tortured man, I am reminded of a saying attributed to the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria: ‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.’”
Rod Dreher, writing on “God Bless Ted Turner: The mogul among the ‘losers,’” Tuesday in nationalreviewonline
“The list of sacrifices parents of large families make could go on and on: chaos, noise, no solitude. No one invites you over for dinner. You can’t fly because you’d have to buy four rows of seats. … The sacrifices for kids? Lack of privacy, less one-on-one time with Mom and Dad, fewer trips to the movies, fewer trips to amusement parks. For teens? Potential embarrassment. As one mom put it, it’s hard to arrive inconspicuously anywhere in a 15-passenger van full of kids.
“So why do Catholics do it?
“Author H.W. Crocker III said it best recently in the National Catholic Register: ‘We few, we happy few, we band of brothers who accept the Church’s teaching on contraception do not, ultimately, do so because of the unchanging tradition of the Church or the argument from natural law or any other argument, however true. Ultimately, we accept the Church’s teaching because we have decided to give without counting the cost.’”
Tom Hoopes, writing on “Married With (a Lot of) Children,” in the February issue of Crisis
“Most everything fell into place with this year’s Oscar nominations. Perhaps the only [surprising] omission was Richard Gere from the best actor list. …
“Besides being just about the only person connected with ‘Chicago’ not nominated, Gere actually did something we haven’t seen him do unlike the five men who were nominated. The relish with which he sang and danced, and the delightful way he balanced sleaze and charm, resulted in the most buoyant performance of his career. Instead, the Academy nodded at Adrien Brody for brooding in ‘The Pianist,’ Nicolas Cage’s deadpan bemusement in ‘The Adaptation,’ Michael Caine’s beautiful soul-searching in ‘The Quiet American,’ Daniel Day-Lewis’ overacting in ‘Gangs of New York,’ and Jack Nicholson for ‘stretching’ by underplaying his role in ‘About Schmidt.’
“The miscast Nicholson was hardly believable as an uptight, buttoned-down Midwesterner, but sometimes just being Jack Nicholson is enough for a nomination. …
“The only bright spot for Gere is that his omission has already brought him more attention than a nomination would have.”
Damien Bona, writing on “Oscar: Raw and uncut,” Wednesday in Salon at www.salon.com