On a recent New Yorker podcast, writer Tony Earley read and discussed Robert Maxwell's short story, "Love."  It’s not what you think. Well, the story is about love, the love of a young boy for his fifth-grade teacher. Even more, it’s about death, but as Earley said when talking about the story, “Who would read something with the title ‘Death’?”

 

At the end of the conversation, Earley, the author of the personal essay collection Somehow Form a Family, added his own commentary about death.

 

“I see death as a design flaw,” he said.  “And I want to write a letter to someone about that.”

 

When Earley figures out who the letter should go to, I’d like to report a few other design flaws. On my list of flaws I’d add infections like meningitis that nearly killed a 21-year-old and left him facing months of rehab.

 

Birth control that fails for a single woman and physiology that doesn’t work for a couple wanting a baby.

 

Surges of electricity after a power outage that spark fire and burn a house and all of its contents to the ground.

 

Hurricanes that wash away homes and schools anywhere, but especially those that repeatedly devastate the poorest parts of Central America.

 

War.

 

Poverty.

 

Guns.

 

You likely have a few you’d add to the list, too.

 

When I was growing up, I was taught that God knew best.  That when horrible things happen—like illness, shootings, hurricanes, fire—these were all part of God’s plan.

 

I don’t believe that way any more. Now, I think God views these as flaws, too, and would like nothing better than some fixes. 

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