Answer questions on a film (Crimes and Misdemeanors) and a book (Lament for a son)


Lament for a Son:

  1. Do you consider human suffering to be evil? Explain your point of view.
  2. Criticize or defend: If God loves us, he must hate and himself suffer from human suffering.
  3. Is death per se an evil? That is, is each and every death an evil. What does Wolterstorff suggest? What do you think?
  4. The death of a child
  5. The death of a parent of a young child
  6. The death of a very old person who seems ready to die.
  7. Wolterstorff: Does Wolterstorff grow from his suffering? Explain. 
    1. Does Job grow from his suffereing. Explain in detail. 
    2. How about the Woody Allen character in Crimes and Misdemeanors?
    3. How about Dr. Judah Rosenthal?
  8. Explain the terms and give examples:
    1. Theodicy
    2. Atheist
    3. Theist
    4. Agnostic
    5. Anthropomorphism
    6. Inscape

Wolterstorff shows us a way of living with pain and suffering that is somewhat unusual in our culture. Enumerate and explain various ways in which his attitude is unusual or unconventional. For each of the items you enumerate, explain his attitude. Point out any places you think he is right or where you don’t agree.

  1. How does Wolterstorff explain or defend his religious point of view? Does he present an argument that Christianity is true. If not, do you think he is succumbing to a blind, irrational faith? 
  2. Can doubting God’s existence be a religious phenomenon? Give examples of when it may be considered religious and when not?
  3. What is Wolterstorff’s attitude to theodicy? Give an example of a theodicy and discuss Wolterstorff’s reaction.
  4. Shalom, salaam: P. 63 “Death is shalom’s mortal enemy.” Explain.


Crimes and Misdemeanors

  1. Give an overview of the plot of the movie.
  2. What does Judah seem to feel when his brother Jack suggests “getting rid of her”?
  3. Explain the first debate between Judah and Rabbi Ben in Judah’s office. Judah says, “We’ve been having this debate our whole lives.” What is the debate?
  4. How does Judah react to the killing? When he first hears; when he is walking with Jack later on; when he is in the restaurant with his wife and daughter.
  5. How does he describe his ultimate reaction in the discussion with Clifford at the end of the movie? What is Clifford’s reaction? What is yours?
  6. Is there any sort of “problem of evil” that the movie dramatizes? Does the movie suggest any sort of answer or positive approach to such a problem?
  7. Is the movie simply negative or nihilistic? Give evidence from the movie. 
  8. What is the role of humor?
  9. The eye, both human and divine, are mentioned many times throughout the film. What’s the point of this?
  10. For each of the main characters, explain how to film sees them. That is, does it see them at good, as evil, as mixed?

link to Crimes and Misdemeanors