Cause and Effect

Drouais Cristo e la Cananea

Jean Germain Drouais [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When something happens…anything…we have a tendency to make a mad dash to uncover causality and assign blame. Some times we do so only in order to reinforce our own beliefs and life decisions. Comedian Jim Gaffigan characterizes this well when he says, “I think I might be lactose intolerant because I had four milkshakes last night, and today I feel terrible.”

Too often this tendency pops up around some uncomfortable topics:

  • She died of lung cancer, but she smoked and I don’t, so I’ll be fine.
  • He committed suicide, but he must have just given up trying. I’ll be fine.
  • They got divorced, but I never liked them together anyway. My marriage will be fine.

We hurry to uncover causality and assign blame in an almost instinctive way to protect ourselves from similar fates; in doing so, we often alienate those who would often be greatly helped by human connection and support.

Jesus is traveling with his disciples when a Canaanite woman confronts them somewhat abruptly, screaming, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” To maintain social norms, Jesus ignores the woman—the disciples want her sent away as she keeps shouting. Not only is she a Canaanite and a woman, but she is shouting at this group of respectable men. Continue reading

Can you study the Bible by reading the Qur’an?

In Genesis…

Jacob_blesses_Joseph_and_gives_him_the_coat (2)

Illustration by Owen Jones from “The History of Joseph and His Brethren” (Day & Son, 1869). Scanned and archived at where it was marked as Public Domain. Text from Book: Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age, and he made him a coat of many colours. Genesis, C.XXXVII. V. 3.

Joseph is Jacob’s youngest son to his fourth baby-mama Rachel, who followed Leah, Bilhah, and Zilpah…

…got to love that biblical and traditional view of marriage!

Parents aren’t supposed to have favorites, but Jacob really adores Joseph and makes him a fabulous coat. There seems to be a pattern of spoiled, youngest child behavior from Joseph because he brags to his brothers about a dream he had wherein they were all working for him! To top his own dream, Joseph has another where not only do his older brothers bow to him, but also the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Jacob tells Joseph to keep it down, but the damage is done. One day Jacob sends Joseph out into the fields to get his brothers, but upon seeing him prancing through the meadow in his Technicolor princess dress,[1] they plot to kill him.

Don’t worry, they don’t actually kill him, they just tear off his coat, sell him as a slave to some passersby, and pretend that a wild animal devoured him.

They’re not the greatest big brothers, nor are they very good sons; Jacob is totally destroyed by the news.

Continue reading