Paul Bryant's Reviews > God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question - Why We Suffer

God's Problem by Bart D. Ehrman
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's review
Oct 02, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: godreads
Read from October 02 to November 01, 2011

Updated with a big quotation from an essay by Ron Rosenbaum added at the bottom for those interested.


Disclaimer : I just reread this review and it's very disrespectful to the topic at hand and portrays complex ideas in a crude cartoonlike and smirky way. There's a celebrity death match between God and Satan, a nervous Jewish spokesman, and something called The Lone Bangster.

Shakes head.


Does not get struck by lightning.


Okay. It could be that I read this book sadistically, having cruel fun watching the poor Christians run around like rats frantically looking for the impossible way out of the trap that they themselves created, which is:

-God is omnipotent

-God loves us

-We live in an ocean of human suffering which laps and lashes at everyone's life. Just take a look at the news. God loves us? You gotta be joking, pal.

But I believe I read this book with a bit more compassion. And surprisingly, it turned out the author isn't a Christian either. He was, but he lost his faith. Because of the problem of suffering. And he's not caning Christianity in a mean-minded way, not at all. But he does say that Christianity fails to explain human suffering.


The problem is solved if one of the statements about God is not true. So, perhaps, believers have entirely mistaken the nature of God.

O Abstract Creative Force, which art imbued in the very fabric of the material universe, in every quark and photon, hallowed be thy name.

Might it be that God was just the bang in the big bang – and that's all? Wham, BANG, thank you ma'am! Who was that masked man? Why that was the Lone Bangster. He rides into pre-time-and-space and creates a new universe and he's gone before anyone can thank him. In this version, the ancients were not wrong to state that there was an original creative and sustaining power, I mean, there was, wasn't there!, but because they couldn't conceptualise in any other way, they gave this power all these human attributes. Mistake! Because the Bang isn't compassionate and loving, the Bang is just the Bang!


Another version in which God is not omnipotent is the


In this version, very popular with some Christians, they SAY God is omnipotent, but then they say that here, on this earth where we live, he doesn't have power – he's in a perpetual battle with the Adversary – the Evil One, Voldemort – no, sorry, Satan. That's him. So don't blame God for all the suffering on planet Earth, it's Satan what done it, and for some reason, God can't just reach out and swat Satan like one of those fat greenbottle flies, ugh I hate them, no, he has to put up with Satan and we have to strive on earth to fend him (and his little devilettes, they're always coming round trying to seduce us, in their fetching red boots and glitzy hairdos) off, and exorcise him like in The Exorcist when he or a mean old devilkin gets stuck in our psyches (like a clog in a U-bend I suppose). Out, clog, out!

In this scenario, God is able to make commando raids on our planet from time to time, and send in some help, such as when he sent in Jesus and the disciples (the spiritual SAS of the first century) but that's all he can do. We're kind of on our own.

So this is called the Apocalyptic version. And in fact most New Testament writers believed in that, as did Jesus himself, except for the boots and the hairdos, I made that up. So all human suffering is nothing to do with God.

In this version God will be kicking down the door real soon, like a giant supernatural police raid – All right, Satan, up against the wall - YOU'RE BUSTED!

- I'm not coming quietly Godddd (pronounced with an insolent sneer) – you're gonna have to come in and get me.

- MY PLEASURE! (Whammm!)

So really, this apocalyptic version of God is a rewrite of the Greek and Roman view of The Gods, whereby the gods fight and carouse and have a wild time throughout the universe and we humans get caught in the crossfire from time to time. This is where sacrifice and prayer come in. These are two forms of pleading to the gods to a) make it rain and b) please go away and leave us in peace, we can't get any sleep when you're around. You're so scary! Meep, meep!


1) because you sinned. What, I have malaria and you're saying that it's because I was sinful? Yes, deal with it.

The reasoning here is unexpectedly mechanical. Now, we think of a person's religion as being what they believe, but back then it was to do with what they did – i.e. whether they followed all the complex rules, which for the Jews was the Torah. Man, that's a lot of rules. So, you could always tell an Old Testament Jew – your leprosy is because you wore a garment made out of two different types of cloth. If you don't believe me, check it out. It's in Leviticus.
So you needed a way of saying sorry that you broke the rules, and hence sacrifice. Now exactly why burning & killing animals was so pleasing to God that he would forgive you is not clear. But that was the way you got right.

Later on the idea of the messiah evolved and became strongly associated with the idea of sacrifice, to the point where by the time the gospel writers set down the story of Jesus, they had absorbed the notion that he was in himself the perfect sacrifice for all of mankind's sins. The thinking here is quite complex, or perhaps I mean muddled. Exactly whose sins? And why couldn't God have just forgiven us without all the folderol? I mean, God sends his only begotten son so that he may be a sacrifice to God so God forgives the human race for their poor attitudes to each other and him, and he withholds the punishments they all so richly deserve. Well, this idea has been accepted by all Christians for the last 2000 years so who am I to say it sounds really loopy?

2) Redemptive Suffering

Simply put, it means that there's always a point to suffering. A silver lining. This is the idea that Dostoyevsky takes a chainsaw to in The Brothers Karamazov. A Biblical example is Joseph, who has brothers who are so mean they sell him into Egyptian slavery, and he suffers for years. But then he becomes powerful in Egypt so that when his brothers and their clans turn up requesting relief from the drought in Israel, he's able to help them. And this is shown as God allowing them to have sold him into slavery to begin with so that they can benefit from his forgiveness later, and lessons can be learned. You can see the idea of God as a puppeteer of humans here. God contrives the whole situation to prove a point. Later on, Exodus says specifically that God "hardens the heart" of Pharoah so that he doesn't listen to Moses and doesn't let the Israelites go until the final plague, in order to prove, once again, a point, i.e, that he is very powerful. What a strange way to go about things. But of course it sounds just like the authors had got the stories already and were back-reading the theology into them.

The story of God and Israel in the Old Testament is the tale of an abusive relationship. Israel betrays God and goes a-whoring after Baal, Israel end up in the Accident and Emergency Unit time and time again when God becomes violent; Israel weeps and says sorry but then the whole cycle repeats. It's all there in Kings & Chronicles and throughout the Prophets.

God: I brought you froth from bondage in Egypt.

Nervous Jewish spokesman : Froth?

God : Forth. I meant forth. (Irritably) That was a typo.

NJS: Yes, you did that, but, er, I believe you arranged for the bondage to happen in the first place.

God : No, no, that was someone else. I brought you forth.

NJS: Okay boss, whatever, you know on behalf of the whole tribe, I'd like to say, we adore you.

God: Okay then – no more Baal!

NJS : Absolutely! Baal (mimes kicking someone's behind) is right out!

God : Okay then – I'll have 50 kine, 25 – no, make that another 50 goats, and 25 sheep. Sacrifices to begin a week Friday. Okay?

NJS: Oh, oh – that many? I mean – yes, yes, great.

God : Okay, we're good then. (Disappears.)

And finally, natural disasters! Yay!

Alright - I'm glad to say that Mr Ehrman has the same attitude to earthquakes as I do. He's a very affable and readable guy, by the way, and I do recommend this book. So, many Christians like to say - and this explanation of suffering ISN'T in the Bible - that if we didn't have the FREE WILL to choose to sin, we would be robots, and it's because of sin that there's so much suffering. Mr Ehrman - you can almost hear him pulling his hair out here - says - but what about earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, floods, volcanoes and mudslides? What sin caused all that human grief? His theological students tend to shuffle off gazing at their shoes when he puts that to them. Yes, you can say - at a stretch - that all the genocides were due to human sin. The Holocaust was created by the Nazis. They did it. But one million children died - so even when you accept that human sin comes from our free will you have to accept the notion of millions of completely innocent children victims. (This is what Dostoyevsky rants about.) So that - for me - scuppers the notion of God being in any way loving. Added to the natural disasters, for me that means that, sorry, and all that, but it looks like there's nobody here but us chickens.

Correction - us and the BANG!!



I just read a great essay by Ron Rosenbaum (author of one of my favourite ever books Explaining Hitler) which addresses in anguish and compassion our topic. It's here

but I will quote the last half. He was reading Bob Dylan's unreadable anti-novel "Tarantula" and came across a line which set him off thinking hard :

"hitler did not change
history. hitler WAS history ... "

Whoa. Those eight words... In the 10 years I spent writing a 500-page book called Explaining Hitler, not one of the historians, philosophers, artists, or other sages I spoke to or read ever made as white-hot an indictment of humanity as that. An indictment, implicitly, of God as well.

In those eight words it seems to me, Dylan is not saying Hitler's evil genius was unique, exceptional. He's saying Hitler represents—embodies—a distillation of all the horrors routinely perpetrated by human civilization. The truth about human nature over the centuries. Human civilization reached its true historical pinnacle—its bloody telos—in Hitler. Human nature is Hitler nature. Just as human history is Hitler history. (And please don't tell me Hitler "lost." Tell that to the six million Jews he killed. Each murder a win for him.)

Such an all-encompassing judgment obviously didn't come out of nowhere. It must have come out of long sessions of thought, ones that reach a critical mass in this lightning bolt of dreadful insight. So if this is Dylan's God problem—look upon his works, ye mighty, and sicken—it was time to turn to the second half of the title of my lecture, "Dylan's God Problem—and Ours."

It was here that I found myself growing so harsh and unrelenting in tone (I'd written it out before, but tone is everything) that I now feel the need to apologize. At least to one listener. I didn't realize the degree of anger I still carried around, not just at the Holocaust, but at those who could remain complacent and go on with their worship of God as if nothing had happened.

"Our God problem," I said, was the abject failure of post-Holocaust Jewish theodicy: The attempt to maintain a belief in a God who had
given Hitler free rein to murder. For Jewish scholars and theologians, it seemed to me, post-Holocaust theodicy should be the first, if not only, subject of their study—not a theodicy that reached back to some commentary on some commentary on some commentary on some third-century rabbinic texts rationalizing the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans to somehow explain Jewish misfortune.

The failure of contemporary Jewish sages, scholars, and the rabbinate to come up with an adequate explanation for God's silence, God's absence, is scandalous to me, virtually an admission that there is no good explanation. But must we then reject God? It's a fairly important question to spend your academic or seminary life ignoring. It's the elephant, no, the mastodon, in the room. Something most don't want to talk about. Or claim not to be troubled by.

I've found myself troubled. I've found myself unable to say the Passover prayer anymore, the one about how God always stretches forth His mighty hand—God the superhero—to save us. This historical lie is an insult to the dead who devoted their lives to belief in God and that prayer—and were cruelly betrayed by both.

Not all rabbis and Jewish scholars are so timid. Rabbi Richard Rubenstein, a famous dissenter from the complacent rabbinic orthodoxy, wrote, "Jewish history has written the final chapter in the terrible story of the God of History" (sounding a bit like Dylan's "Hitler WAS history"). And "the pathetic hope of coming to grips with Auschwitz through the framework of traditional Judaism will never be realized."

As a cheerful note, he added: "We learned in the crisis we were totally and nakedly alone, that we could expect neither support nor succor from God. ... Therefore, the world will forever remain a place of pain, suffering, alienation, and ultimate defeat."

Other scholars, such as Irving Greenberg ("Not to confront is to repeat" Hitler's crime, he wrote in "Cloud of Smoke, Pillar of Fire," his influential essay) and the late Emil Fackenheim (whom I interviewed in Jerusalem), have wanted to preserve a belief in God but at least have had the courage to face the failure of explanation to fit the old religion into the new, evil revelation.

But I got carried away during this second half of the lecture. And I disclosed my intellectual—and emotional—distress at the rationalizations of God's role in the Holocaust. What I proceeded to do was ridicule any attempt to maintain that there was some "excuse" for God's absence and silence. The theodicy of the Shas rabbi in Israel, for example, who declared that the Holocaust was God's punishment for European Jews who'd slid away from orthodoxy to secularism. That Hitler was "the rod of God's anger" against them.


No less obscene than those who claimed the Holocaust was "part of God's plan," perhaps His way of hastening the establishment of a Jewish state. Then there was the argument that it was not God's fault—he just gave man free will to use for good or evil. Which prompts one to ask: Was it not in His power to create a being incapable of choosing mass murder so often? A human nature that didn't include childhood cancers, say, and the genesis of holocausts? Are we not allowed to question His creation in the smoking ruins of the death camps? Or, to alter the tone of the much-ridiculed notion: Is this—this! this hell on earth—the best of all possible worlds an all-powerful God could have created?

Then there's the last refuge of theological scoundrels: "It's all a big mystery." It sounds so profound. It's a disguise for willed avoidance.

I reserved my greatest contempt for those, including many intellectually "progressive" rabbis who try to get away with the sophistry that "God was in the camps," that God was there in every act of goodness and self-sacrifice the camp inmates showed one another. Doubly obscene. It steals from those brave souls the credit for their selfless acts and gives the credit to an absent God. Virtually robbing their graves for the sake of making God look better.

How can these rabbis and scholars justify themselves, intellectually and morally, with their ludicrously inadequate theodicies? Perhaps they have too much stake in established religious structure, in the comfy status quo of their institutions, to fear undermining it all by asking discomfiting, subversive questions. It seems to me to be intellectual cowardice.

At this point in the lecture, my anger had gotten the better of me. My condemnation of those who used that ploy spilled over to all the failed theodicies and their self-deceiving believers. But most of the audience seemed to be receptive in the sense that there were no outraged outcries.

It was only toward the end of the question period that a rather frail and aged figure—I believe I was later told he was both a rabbi and religious scholar—stood up almost shaking with rage. His rage was ostensibly at my citation of Dylan's rewrite (in "Highway 61 Revisited") of the Abraham, Isaac, and God human-sacrifice story. Dylan makes it seem like some sleazy transaction between carny hustlers. ("God said to Abraham, 'Kill me a son' / Abe says, 'Man, you must be puttin' me on.'")

The enraged rabbi raised his voice to cry out that Jews didn't take this story literally. Well, duh. (Although, of course, millions of Jews do take every word of the Bible as the word of God.) But even if it was only a metaphor about devotion and loyalty to an insecure deity who demanded the willingness to kill one's firstborn as proof of devotion, it was a particularly repellent metaphor. One can only imagine the soul-crushing effect on Abraham—even after his child-murder reprieve—of the realization that he valued an invisible delusion more than a living child.

Afterward, after the question period ended and people began to depart, the questioner approached me at the podium, and I realized that his rage, and the unspoken dissent of others in the audience, wasn't over the interpretation of the Abraham-and-Isaac story. It was (this was later confirmed to me by a colleague of his) because I had sought to strip away any possibility of a grown-up's continuing to believe in the loving and powerful God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob after Auschwitz.

That conclusion he could not abide, logic or no logic. He wanted his God, he wanted the consolation of a God, he needed to pray to him, and I had said doing so was robbing the graves of the dead.

I believe my feelings were as legitimate as his feeling of faithfulness, my anger as legitimate as his desire to continue a lifetime of belief and consolation. But who knows what losses he endured and how he had continued to love God?

In the months that followed, I kept thinking about our confrontation. I had ended it by saying, "We'll have to agree to disagree," but that didn't mollify him, and I kept thinking about his anger. Thinking about the tone in which I had critiqued (slashed away at) the range of theodicies.

I couldn't shake the image of that man shaking his finger at me.

My position, should you care, is that I love everything about Jews and being Jewish—except the Jewish God. (I'm the kind of agnostic who is always arguing with the God he doesn't believe in.) And it wasn't that I couldn't take criticism. But what that man was offering was not so much criticism as shame and reproof for my anger.

But I don't feel shame.

Hitler is dead, and I had nonetheless hurt the feelings of an undoubtedly good man to make a point about Hitler, God, and Bob Dylan. That wasn't my purpose, nor is my purpose here to take pride in my newly awakened empathy for my questioner. It's to register an honest evolution of feeling from an anger that was not sufficiently separated from a desire to hurt those religious figures who assumed some special authority if not holiness, and whom I felt had failed me and their followers. In a place for truth-telling—the academy—I feel remorse for my zeal to make the truth hurt.

And though he and I still may well differ, for that I apologize to him.
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 123) (123 new)

Kaethe Well done. I'll read the Ehrman book, because he is such a pleasure, but I loved your review. I'd like it twice if I could.

message 2: by Paul (last edited Oct 06, 2011 05:46AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant thanks - I just remembered the best joke in the book - commenting on him losing his faith the author's friend said Bart went from being born again to being dead again... brilliant!

message 3: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker So what did he say about free will in heaven?

Kaethe Excellent joke, because I love that movie.

message 5: by 1901 (new)

1901 Great review. "Jesus and the disciples - the spiritual SAS of the first century" I like that alot!

Sonia Triplett I've read this book twice and it depressed me both times. it's easy to laugh at the absurdities; but I've known people who actually believed god was punishing them for thier sins. This made me think of that politician who said that if you weren't rich or are unemployed it's your own fault.

Paul Bryant Okay, when that politician gets pushed out of the window of a tall building, it'll be my fault.

message 8: by Duffy (new)

Duffy Pratt You didn't mention the other possibilities: God might not love us so much. Perhaps God is largely indifferent. Or maybe Gloucester had it right, and we are to God as flies to wanton boys.

Or, Leibniz/Pangloss might have gotten it right and this is indeed the best of all possible worlds. In other words, though there may be an ocean of suffering as things stand, in any other world that God might have created, there would be even more suffering, so we should count our blessings.

Then of course there's always the explanation that we are trying to understand these things with our very limited human reason. And God's ways are too deep for our puny understanding to grasp. (I always thought this begged the question why he didn't create us with enough understanding to get the point of what he was doing, but that's just me.)

Paul Bryant Hi Duffy - yes, my review was getting too damn long, I couldn't find room for the other ideas. If this is the best of all possible worlds then you'd have to say that God isn't that great a world-creator, in fact he's downright rubbish at it. He should give up creating worlds and take up knitting, I think. Re your last paragraph - totally agree, that argument is what young people describe as total pants.

message 10: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Paul, I enter this thread in mortal fear that surely, if God exists, he will spot you and these posts and recognise that you are in charge of the coach, in which case I fear that you will be the postillion struck by lightning.

message 11: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant yes, it began with a BANG but will probaby end with my whimper... "sorry, didn't mean it..." "TOO LATE, MR RATIONALIST!"

message 12: by Ian (last edited Oct 08, 2011 02:04PM) (new)


And with that God throws a javelin at Paul the Preacher's head with such Herculean force that it severs his bicameral brain into, yes, two (count them) parts, one that identifies itself as Determinism and the other as Free Will.

The one called Determinism hangs around God, pleading "pick me, pick me" and the other runs away, taunting "you can't catch me!"

Between you and me and strictly on the QT, Free Will continues to hide in a corner of cyberspace known as "godbotheration", from where it occasionally launches daring night raids on unwary believers and their idols.

It lives by the motto, "The test of a true God botherer is whether they truly bother God."

The number of its supporters continues to grow.

Its exponents grow exponentially.

They meet secretly in pubs.

To outsiders they look just like your common or garden variety of leather-jacketed pseudo-intellectual ( a cunning disguise), but when they spot each other, they furtively push the collars of their jackets aside to reveal a faded t-shirt that testifies to their love of "The Life of Bryant".

Then they turn to the barmaid and say, "Oliver Narf".

And so just for a few hours at a time, harmony is restored and contentment reigns on Earth.

message 13: by Kate (new)

Kate Mark Twain's "Letters from the Earth" would be a good companion piece.

message 14: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye I like the way they start off:

"The Creator sat upon the throne, thinking."

message 15: by Paul (new)

Paul Why do we suffer; simple; there is no god; we die we rot or burn; end of!

message 16: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye So your secular confusion has dissipated? Whilst on the throne?

message 17: by Paul (last edited Oct 08, 2011 03:27PM) (new)

Paul Ok; I have some authenticity as an ex priest; but I spent a few years on my knees praying before I realised I was talking to myself. however i would go with The Brothers Karamazov in saying that all the religion in the world is not worth the suffering of one innocent child

message 18: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Paul wrote: "Ok; I have some authenticity as an ex priest; but I spent a few years on my knees praying before I realised I was talking to myself. however i would go with The Brothers Karamazov in saying that al..."

Sorry, Paul, I replied to you as if you were Paul the Hoster not Paul the Poster.

message 19: by Paul (new)

Paul Close!!

message 20: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant Another Paul! I thought I was the only one. This is most disturbing.

message 21: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Paul wrote: "all the religion in the world is not worth the suffering of one innocent child"

I read Paul's review with my Free Will eyes on, and missed some of the implications for causation theory.

Religion tends to assert that everything happens for a reason, everything has a purpose, even the suffering of a child.

Maybe this was supposed to be a therapeutic tool to help us deal with misfortune, but it's pretty warped.

Also, the flipside of Free Will is guilt and damnation, the punishment side, when my wife would say that the real message should be get over it and get on with it.

message 22: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye For insurance purposes, those natural disasters are called "Acts of God".

Again, God is the cause. And he has a motive or purpose.

message 23: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant It would be a kindness to give us a hint what it might be, don't you think?

message 24: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye I think he's trying to say that you have to endure a lot of shit on Earth, but it's Heaven Up Here (with Me).

My Heaven beats your shit.

And if you suicide to get here, it's a mortal sin and you go straight to Hell. (I think Pope Gregory introduced this rule in the 6th century to combat the sudden rush to get to Heaven.)

message 25: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant the phrase is pie in the sky when you die.

message 26: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye I like the misspelling of the song name.

I didn't know about the origin of "pie in the sky" before your post:

message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Stop grumbling, stop whinging, it's only Earthly suffering, it will seem to be nothing.

I think there's a Catch 22 in there somewhere.

message 28: by Ian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian What an excellent summary of Ehrman's book. Great job!

You might enjoy my review of this book also. I completely agree with your summary of the book, but I sort of took home my own conclusion from it. I mean, yes, suffering makes it very hard to explain/justify the Christian faith. But my conclusion from all that is that we, as humans, need to take responsibility for the suffering on Earth, get off our duffs, and do something about it. Whether God exists or not, he sure isn't keen on helping. So it's humanity's problem.

message 29: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Suffering is here on Earth, and Christians resort to God as a comforter, like they and/or others also resort to alcohol, sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.

message 30: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye P.S. This is all explained in "The Recognitions" ;)

message 31: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant Ha ha Ian, you ain't gonna get me like that!!

message 32: by Ian (last edited Mar 17, 2012 07:24PM) (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye And You May Ask Yourself
What Is That Beautiful Book?
And You May Ask Yourself
Where Does That Novel Go?
And You May Ask Yourself
Am I Right?...Am I Wrong?
And You May Ask Yourself
Why Should I Read This Hefty Tome?
Then One Day You May Look in the Mirror
And You May Find Something Has Changed
And You May Ask Yourself
What is Missing from My To-Read Shelf
And You May Surprise Yourself
To Find You Have Devoured 956 Pages
And You May Tell Yourself
And You May Recognise the Truth
That You Really Do Need to Do It
If At All Humanly Possible
Once In A Lifetime
Before Going Underground.

message 33: by Mike (last edited Mar 17, 2012 07:38PM) (new)

Mike Puma Ian wrote: "And You May Ask Yourself
What Is That Beautiful Book?
And You May Ask Yourself
Where Does That Novel Go?
And You May Ask Yourself
Am I Right?...Am I Wrong?
And You May Ask Yourself
Why Should I Rea..."

Did you write that while doing a Native American sign for water down your arm? Will you Stop Making Sense? (I saw that tour and even remember part of it)

message 34: by Duffy (last edited Mar 17, 2012 11:01PM) (new)

Duffy Pratt A long time ago
A million years BC
The best things in life
Were absolutely free.
But no one appreciated
A sky that was always blue.
And no one congratulated
A moon that was always new.
So it was planned that they would vanish now and them
And you must pay before you get them back again.
That's what storms were made for
And you shouldn't be afraid for
Every time it rains it rains
Pennies from heaven.
Don't you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven.
You'll find yor fortune falling
All over town.
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down.
Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers.
If you want the things you love
You must have showers.
So when you hear it thunder
Don't run under a tree.
There'll be pennies from heaven for you and me.

Maybe religion isn't worth it if there a child suffers. But I'm pretty positive that if there were no suffering, there would be no religion either.

message 35: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye Mike wrote: "Did you write that while doing a Native American sign for water down your arm? Will you Stop Making Sense? (I saw that tour and even remember part of it)"

Water dissolving and water removing. I love this song too, in fact it would be in my top 10.

message 36: by Manny (new)

Manny I may quibble about some of your theological arguments, but definitely a vote for

The story of God and Israel in the Old Testament is the tale of an abusive relationship.

Don't be too surprised if you see a shortened version of that on a T-shirt one day...

message 37: by Ian (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye I'll give you 30 minutes to abbreviate it into T-shirt material.

message 38: by Manny (last edited Mar 18, 2012 01:35AM) (new)

Manny Ian wrote: "I'll give you 30 minutes to abbreviate it into T-shirt material."


[Design: God and Israel as a white-trash couple. He (beard, beer belly, baseball cap) is about to hit her (slutty clothes, lot of cheap cleavage, star-of-David ear-rings) - clearly not for the first time, as her black eye and split lip show. God is a downmarket, overweight version of the William Blake one, Israel is a very trashy Sarah Silverman.]


I'm sure it can be improved - I'm not a graphic artist, as Martha has elegantly and tactfully demonstrated to me.

message 39: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant Possibly not the thing to wear when breezing around Tel Aviv shopping malls.

message 40: by Ian (last edited Mar 18, 2012 01:58AM) (new)

Ian "Marvin" Graye I was more concerned about the verbal element: "GOD AND ISRAEL, AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP" wasn't sounding like something my daughters would allow me to wear to school netball games.

They've already banned any shirt with the word "Dude" on it.

I'm also having to wear all my 1980's Polo shirts again.

It reminds me of my preppie Talking Heads days.

message 41: by Riku (new) - added it

Riku Sayuj brilliant review!

message 42: by Traveller (last edited Mar 18, 2012 04:06AM) (new) - added it

Traveller K. Gotcha. Big BANG! Makes bang and runs.

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message 43: by Mala (new)

Mala Thank God Paul you are not living in the Middle Ages or you would've been labelled a heretic & burnt at stake! Thank God also that you are not a Muslim or you would've been called a Kaafir & a fatwa would've been issued!
I'll try & read & more importantly try to understand your review,a bit later as it is rather long.I'll try to explain in terms of Hinduism because i know a little bit abt it. I wish Nandakishore would take you up on this but maybe he is also an atheist,Goodreads seems to be full of them & you guys seem to wear your atheism as a badge of honour:(

message 44: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant I don't like the militant atheists like Dawkins, with friends like that who needs enemies, but I do think atheists have had to run and hide since time began and only now is it okay to question religious views in a public forum and not be hunted down. And even now as you say this applies only in certain parts of the world. I will be glad of any comments you make after you've ploughed through this extremely long review.

message 45: by Mala (new)

Mala I had such an unpleasant experience last night: i had liked a quote by Salman Rushdie from The Midnight's Children & then this mad person comes there & hurls choicest abuses,not at me but at the writer as if he visits Goodreads & reads all the comments abt him! Such sick minds!
As a librarian,can you do something abt that comment?

message 46: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant yet possibly, can you give me a link?

message 48: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant if it's abusive you click on the "flag" link under the comment.... did you try that?

message 49: by Mala (last edited Jun 24, 2012 08:28PM) (new)

Mala I just did that! I was too taken aback by the hatred to respond last night.
It was written in a mix of Urdu & Hindi. Even if you bar this person,he can make a new profile & spread venom against this writer & his fans.
Is there a real fix?

message 50: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Bryant oh yes, if he does it again we can get him blocked from GR.

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