Writing the Disaster: A Philippine Case Study of the Challenge to Traditional Theodicy in Popular Media

Jesus Deogracias Principe


The question initially raised in this paper was on how one s religious sensibility affects one s response to suffering. Focusing on three particular disasters that hit the Philippines, we look at the various media sources: the writing about the rains and flooding found in broadsheets and online media, and some ethnographic descriptions coming from the social sciences; we also look at experiential or anecdotal sources. All this provides us with material to establish certain traits and topics that come to fore in times of disaster, including such concerns as the lessons learned during disaster, the wrath of God, and points of cultural pride such as notions of solidarity and resilience. A significant upshot of this study has been the recognition of epistemic and methodological reevaluations that had to constantly be taken. This concludes in a retrieval of the contextuality of suffering (the historic, socio-economic in addition to the religious contexts of one who has been through disaster), a redefinition of what it means to say that the response is a Christian one, and finally a proposal that paying closer attention to these points, in addition to non-philosophical sources, might be a way of rethinking the problem of suffering beyond the scope of traditional theodicies.


disaster; suffering; evil; religion; theodicy; Filipino; Christian; Catholic; media; ethnography

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