Paracosm: Playing in a New World with a Different Set of Rules
When I teach Theodicy (i.e., the problem of evil and suffering) to my university students, I start out by playing a game of hangman. I draw out a random number of blanks, and start asking for letters.
I doesn’t take long before I have a couple of blanks filled with X or Q. I might randomly add another space or two. This usually brings cries of protest.
Finally, the figure fills out. They lose.
Now they’re really howling. “There isn’t any set of English words with those letters!”
“Do you want to know what the phrase is?” So, I start writing on the board:Lawlessness and Chaos.
Sheer frustration. Somebody, usually earnest and sitting in the front row, someone used to school making sense, yells out, “That’s not fair.”
So, I ask, “How do you like it when somebody doesn’t follow the rules? Hard to play the game when someone keeps changing them, isn’t it?”
They don’t like it … not one bit.
But then again, nobody does, do they? We like consistency and predictability. We don’t like the thought that lawlessness and chaos might insinuate themselves into the otherwise stable taken-for-grantedness of our lives.
One of the reasons, people have such a difficult time with the question of evil and suffering is that it usually represents a deviation from the way our middle class American lives are lived.