TLR Looks Back at 2022 Reader Comments (Part 3) Existentialism, Jesus “Banned” from Twitter, & the Mid-Terms

TLR Looks Back at 2022 Reader Comments (Part 3) Existentialism, Jesus “Banned” from Twitter, & the Mid-Terms December 13, 2022

Welcome to part three of a look back at reader’s comments. As I pick what comments to use, my readers continue to amaze me with their insight and knowledge on a variety of topics. This article takes the same form as the other two.

Again, please enjoy more reader comments. Also included are my responses to those comments and further commentary, if needed. God bless!

What Happens When the Existential Vacuum Stares Back at You?


While I would agree with those who say religion can be a way to overcome an existential crisis/vacuum, purposelessness, ennui, etc… I would dispute any notion that religion is better than non-religious solutions. The Pew Study you cited takes great pains to not conflate correlation with causation. It makes a distinction between “active religious” (those who attend religious services at least once a month) and “inactive religious” (those who self-identify as religious but attend a religious service less than once a month). It notes that active religious tend to be happier than the inactive religious. The case could be argued that the active religious are more in tune with their deity than the inactive religious, and thus show why the happiness levels tend to differ; but we have another explanation within your own article. You listed three items that Viktor Frankl gave to combat the existential vacuum: Creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something, or encountering someone, by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.

What is attending religious services if not doing a deed, experiencing something, encountering someone, and being told how to take unavoidable suffering? There’s nothing to suggest that the religious aspect provides a superior approach to combat a feeling of meaninglessness and purposelessness that can’t also be attained by volunteering for a group to get together and combat water pollution. Such a group would have regular meetings where one interacts with other people and ideas and tackles suffering from water pollution, not my eliminating it (which would be impossible) but by working to lessen it.


I’m also not sure why Pascal’s Wager was introduced into the discussion. You’re going with a presupposition that being religious will likely make one happier (which again the Pew Study is not saying) and then presenting the Wager as a way to choose between happy theism versus unhappy atheism. Among the many, many (many) problems with Pascal’s Wager is the idea that one can simply choose belief versus unbelief. One can only believe based on the available evidence. Even one who hasn’t determined where they stand on that scale isn’t going to be swayed by an unproven suggestion that belief makes one happier. All we’d have to consider is any number of cults where belief is strong and happiness is abundant, but truth is utterly lacking. This is not in any way to suggest that Catholicism (or Christianity as a whole) is a cult or that it is definitively untrue, but it absolutely demonstrates that truth is not bound by one’s faith or one’s happiness.

Again, I want to make it clear that I do not want to suggest that people can’t combat existential problems via religion. In fact, some of the greatest painters, musicians, and so on have found meaning and purpose via their religion (both Christian and non-Christian religions). But I feel it’s important not to give religion credit for things it may not deserve if parallel non-religious activities give the same results.

TLR Response:

Thanks for taking the time to read my piece. Here are my thoughts regarding your comment.

To sum up my argument:

  1. We currently live in a culture devoid of meaning and purpose, what Frankl called the “existential vacuum,” due to the proliferation of reductionist philosophy, psychology, and science that reduces human experience to mere naturalism. This state has left our world extremely unhappy and caused an explosion of neurosis.
  2. Frankl solution to focus on the individual’s response to the “vacuum” falls short due to not addressing the causes to the “existential vacuum” head on, but instead only offers a coping mechanism or band aid.
  3. Per the Pew study, actively religious people are happier. I did not address inactive religious people due their inactivity shows their lack of sincerity. The actively religious are happier because they believe their life hold meaning and purpose.
  4. If actively religious people are happier, Pascal’s Wager can be used to encourage non-believers to bet “God exists” and thereby fill the “existential vacuum.” To bet “God exists” wins meaningfulness, purpose, and thereby happiness.

Now, I did not attach whether “God exists” is true or not the proposition intentionally. My thought exercise is not about whether God truly exists or not, but whether or not belief in God exists affects meaningfulness, purpose, and happiness. Clearly, to me that if one believes they were made for a purpose, this purpose gives them meaning. Furthermore, I highlighted the Christian understanding of the suffering God in Christ to show the most appealing and meaningful reflection of this idea. To have a life so precious to cause the 2nd Person of the Godhead to take on flesh to live, suffer, and die for it is very inspirational.

Follow Up:

Moreover, those who find meaning in the existence of God also may find meaning in their suffering. For a theist, suffering need not end in a meaningless void. For Christians, God suffers with us in the human nature of Jesus Christ.

Jesus “Banned” from Twitter


Now, you and other Christians are discounting the gender identities of transfolk, which are supported to some extent (perhaps not conclusively) by neurological research. You base this on your interpretation of certain Gospel verses, which to me do not clearly pertain to the topic.

I certainly do not support criminal penalties for hate speech for airing your views about gender being binary. I do, however, support Twitter’s prerogative to ban an account for a personal attack, just as I support your prerogative to censor comments or ban commenters from this, your private forum. Ms.

Levine may qualify as a “public figure” in her capacity as the United States assistant secretary for health. That justifies criticism or satire directed at her job performance and qualifications. It does not justify lampooning her personal characteristics.

I guarantee you, as well as I am able as a cisgender person, that misgendering a transperson, and denying the reality of their identity, is perceived by that person as a personal attack, and as hate. It inflicts emotional pain on people who have had plenty enough already. It’s cruel, even if not so intended.

I urge you not to do that.

TLR Response:

I identify primarily as a Catholic Christian. I hold the Catholic faith as a key part of my identity. You do not hold this view, nor do you think it likely (or possible) for my view (which is an integral part of my identity) is true. Should I understand your refusal to accept my beliefs on the universe, denying the reality of my identity, as hate? Christians have suffered (and still suffer) literal persecution for their faith. Why would you contribute to their pain by denying their identity as true?

If denying the reality of one’s identity is hate, where do you stand in relation to me and other theists?

For the record, I do not deny anyone’s “reality.” Like you, I believe certain things are impossible and unlikely, like the idea that someone can change their gender. My belief that such an idea is not hate, just as your views that deny the “reality” of the claims of Catholicism (which is part of my identity) is not an act of hate. It is disagreement.

Follow Up:

For the record, the above commentator did retract his inference of hatefulness on my part. I cite the example above, and the retraction, as a prime example of the benefits of respectful dialogue between two thoughtful people that disagree. Furthermore, we may never agree, and that’s fine. Our lack of agreement does not translate into willful hate and ill intent.

Baby Formula, Abortion, Mid-Term Election 2022 and Beyond


The Directorate of Global Health Security and Biodefense in the NSC was disbanded by Bolton, Trump’s National Security Advisor, in 2018. Trump repeatedly downplayed the severity of the pandemic. He repeatedly encouraged the use of ineffective treatments.

But sure, there have been more pandemic deaths under Biden. If I disconnect the smoke alarm in a building, delay calling the fire department, and insist there’s no serious fire while people burn to death, but then a new building manager takes over after the fire is burning… yeah, blame the new guy for the subsequent deaths.

TLR Response:

I seem to remember both sides “downplaying” the pandemic at the start. Didn’t Pelosi visit a Chinese market in such an attempt? My issue is why are there more deaths when we know more? At least Trump (and health officials under him) can claim they were dealing with the unknown. The Biden administration had far greater knowledge, a vaccine (thanks to the previous administration), and major media support, and yet more people died under their watch. But once Trump was out of office that pesky death tally on CNN magically went away…

The point of my article is that voters have moved on from Covid. The fact that mothers cannot find formula (and there is no sign of it getting better) will have an adverse effect for the Democrats come November.

Follow Up:

Moreover, I’m one to admit their error. The issue of Covid and the shortage of baby formula did not adversely affect the Democrats in November 2022. The Democrats gained in all areas, except the House of Representatives. Not since Franklin D. Roosevelt did a sitting Democratic president fair better. Why? A lack of quality Republican candidates and the shadow of Donald Trump ensured a weak Republican showing.

Thanks For Reading!

This end part three. Part four comes soon. Thanks!

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