niedner

Frederick Niedner

Frederick A. Niedner is a professor of Theology and former Chair of the Theology Department at Valparaiso University. His ongoing work in biblical theology focuses …Read More

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Niedner: Society needs a pill for uncontrolled anger

Our society needs blood pressure meds. We’re near to exploding. Consider this week’s news as the cuff on our collective arm. The nation has witnessed six school shootings this January, compared with 14 in all of 2013. Most recently, a Purdue student shot and killed …

Niedner: More to education than creating workers

We found ways to joke about the deep-freeze that descended on so much of the nation this week. One friend suggested the term “polar vortex” sounded like a winter sportswear line or a villain in a Star Wars film. Windy City residents took to calling …

Niedner: Take celebrity opinions with a grain of salt

Having never developed a taste for reality television, I had no clue why the earth tottered on its foundations last week when the A&E network dismissed Phil Robertson for publicly comparing the attractiveness of various bodily orifices and describing how happy black folks seemed back …

Mandela, Pope Francis give us hope

They almost seem like characters drawn from story books, these two old souls who have captured much of our imagination in recent days. One of them, Nelson Mandela, surprised us by dying. Having survived war, decades in prison, and arguably the most difficult political challenges …

Fortunes: Way the cookie crumbles

The fortune cookies that accompany my weekly lunch with a friend usually assure me that things will soon change for the better, I can look forward to a comfortable old age, or an unexpected payment will come my way. Perhaps one should never admit to …

Niedner: 50 years later, what’s to be learned from JFK assassination?

By this time, those of us with more than a few miles on our personal odometers can recall exactly where we were and what we were doing on several historic occasions of the kind that sear an indelible print upon one’s memory. For many among …

Future generations certain to judge us

Just as we have written the history of the Gilded Age and Great Depression, and lately presumed to have understood the Cold War, our great-grandchildren will one day look back on us and tell the story of our times. How will they name our era, …

No good options in Syria

As every police officer knows, few situations prove more dangerous to would-be peacemakers than a scene of domestic violence. Many times, those who mean only to serve and protect become the entire household’s enemy, and whatever additional mayhem ensues inevitably becomes their responsibility. Still, they …

You shouldn’t be surprised that Big Brother’s watching

This week’s Supreme Court rulings momentarily absorbed much of the nation’s righteous anger quotient, but so long as Edward Snowden remains a fugitive, the furor over his revelations concerning National Security Agency surveillance programs won’t subside appreciably. Some deem Snowden as a whistleblowing hero, others …

Niedner: Trouble even in Paradise

I live and work in a town named for Paradise. The word comes from the ancient Persian religion known as Zoroastrianism. It means “enclosed garden” and identified the place where certifiably good people dwell for eternity as a reward for their upright lives. I don’t …

Niedner: Dramas of daily life ultimately define us

At last, a truce has halted the latest mud wrestling episode in Washington, which means that national parks and cemeteries will reopen and furloughed federal employees will get paychecks again. Until it starts all over in a couple months, we can enjoy a break from …

We build and destroy, but some things last nonetheless

Strolling ancient streets amid the ruins of Corinth and Athens, or standing in the remains of Ephesus’ grand theater, leaves one contemplating the fact that Plato, Aristotle and biblical figures like Paul once passed this way and looked on the same hills in the distance …

Humanity’s story lines don’t change much

Strange as the news sometimes seems, the dramas unfolding around us often replicate story lines old as the hills and just as familiar. Everyone who once read Sophocles’ “Antigone” in a western civilization course could have predicted that the people of Massachusetts wouldn’t allow the …

Power of words among most enduring lessons

My day job as an educator routinely involves critiquing and correcting others’ use of words. Students may imagine otherwise, but few teachers consider this the most satisfying part of their work. Over the years I have often repeated a former colleague’s line, “I teach for …

Celebrity offenders always  willing to play us for fools

Once upon a time, in the good old days, we put the sinners, villains and malefactors among us in stocks. There they stayed while their neighbors heaped shame on them with taunts and ridicule, and perhaps some well-aimed spit. Since no one kept statistics on …

Sand dune rescue could have been a different story

The recent story of the youngster who lived despite being swallowed up for several hours by a giant sand dune along Indiana’s Lake Michigan shore sounded like an excerpt from Kate Atkinson’s best-selling novel “Life after Life.” Ursula Todd, the tale’s primary character, survives many …

Fred Niedner: Hospitality is holy work

One of my heroes died recently, someone who made the world a more hospitable place. Heidi Moll Schoedel co-founded and for nearly 25 years directed Exodus World Service, a charitable, volunteer organization that assists refugees from all over the world at building new lives in …