Jewish Journal

Steve Johnson gets theodicy

by Brad A. Greenberg

December 12, 2010 | 12:04 pm

It’s Sunday in December, which means there is a lot of meaningful NFL on and, not surprisingly, I’m in the fantasy playoffs. (Playoffs?!) I really should be studying for finals and finishing a seminar paper, and I will later, but, well, you have to prioritize.

I mentioned it last week, but Steve Johnson of the Buffalo Bills had a really tough butterfingers moment two weeks ago that resulted in his blaming God on Twitter. I found the finger-pointing even more obnoxious than an insincere end zone prayer, but Jeffrey Weiss though people like me were missing something.

Weiss, formerly the Dallas Morning News’ religion reporter, writes at Politics Daily:

While it ain’t easy to push the idea of theodicy into a 140-character limit, that’s what Johnson managed to do.

Theodicy is all about how an all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful deity can allow what appears to be undeserved pain. Johnson is well-known as a devout Christian of the sort who believes that God is directly in charge of everything. So it’s totally consistent for him to toss a question to the Almighty after such a painful moment.

In spirit and tone, you can find similar examples from Christian and Jewish religious writing and in fiction, from St. Theresa of Avila to Sholom Alechem’s Tevye. But the most famous cry of its kind is surely in the Bible’s Book of Job.


After his first tweet to God this week, Johnson responded directly to the public attacks. In more tweets:

“I learned A lot Within 24hrs. Saw Both Sides.(Ups&Dwns) I AM HAPPY & THANKFUL 4 YESTERDAY! w/out Sunday iWldnt have grew closer w/The Lord!!”

“And No I Did Not Blame God People! Seriously??!? CMon! I Simply Cried Out And Asked Why? Jus Like yal did wen sumthin went wrong n ur life!”

And truly, who among us has not wondered why—“wen sumthin went wrong n ur life?”

Well done, Weiss.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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