A health consumer’s BFF

Health consumer, meet your first best friend, Johannes Gutenberg.

Johannes Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg

Of all the instruments and processes medical researchers have invented, none has been more important to the advancement of medicine than the printing press, which Gutenberg developed in the mid-15th century, publishing 180 copies of his celebrated Bible around 1455.

A former goldsmith, Gutenberg developed moveable type that could be made of wood or metal, and adapted a wine press to imprint the image on the paper.

Soon, scholars and scientists all over Europe were exchanging ideas. Relatively few people could read at the time, and books were expensive, but that ability to convey information to more than a small group at a time resulted in an explosion of understanding of how the world works.

For the record, the Chinese invented moveable type hundreds of years before Gutenberg did.

When bad things happen

Speaking of Haiti, Minneapolis Star-Tribune reader Lily Coyle's letter from Satan is at the top of my "Wish I'd Written That" list right now.

The letter is a response to evangelist Pat Robertson's assertion that Haiti has been "cursed by one thing after another" because the Haitians made a pact with the devil to break free from French rule in 1804. ("True story," Robertson said.)

Adam and Eve, the original birth story

Adam and Eve

As Coyle points out, people who make a pact with the devil are supposed to pay up in the next life, not in this one.

The question of why bad things happen to some people but not to others is a fundamental one.

A popular answer is that people who suffer have offended God in some way.

The Bible, specifically Genesis 3:16, explains the pain of childbirth as part of the punishment women must suffer for the sin of Eve, who with Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden.

Not only that, but the Talmud, a collection of rabbinical writings, says that women who die in childbirth have violated Jewish law in specific ways. Imagine the neighbors trying to figure out exactly what transgression the dead woman might have committed.

Here's my two cents: Bad things happen to good people. All the time. We don't know why, but they do.