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Saturday Night God Blogging (with a Martini)

June 14, 2008

It’s been another long week. The last three have been filled with drama of the kind you don’t want: the Countess must have a fairly major surgery, a friend diagnosed with cancer and given a few weeks to live. Then again, there have been other small graces; a couple of old friends, one from college, one from high school, found me on the internet because I meant something to them in some way; my career is taking important baby steps, and I had an important but long-delayed conversation with a friend that was difficult but brought us closer together. And my kids have never been so wonderful.

So while enjoying this fine double dose of Bombay Saphirre with three olives I thought I’d point you to “Theodicy and the Narrow Escape Syndrome” by Richard Neuhaus. A sample:

Most thoughtful Christians have at one time or another found themselves entangled in the theodicy conundrum. Without going into great detail, the key problem with the conundrum as stated is that it assumes we know who or what is meant by “God.” It is as though we have a job description for the position of God and then decide that none of the applicants fills the bill. Were I to go into detail, I would suggest that the critical turn is in seeing the implications of the Christian name for God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is, Ultimate Reality is, Being is relational. Indeed, it is relationality, if I may be permitted the term, all the way down. Which is another way of saying what the First Letter of John says more succinctly: God is love. And love entails suffering.

My thought for now, for which I have no real answer, is “What is the difference between hope and optimism?” Quotes Neuhaus:

..the world remains divided between two kingdoms, where light and darkness, life and death, grow up together and await the harvest. In such a world, our portion is charity, and our sustenance is faith, and so it will be until the end of days. As for comfort, when we seek it, I can imagine none greater than the happy knowledge that when I see the death of a child, I do not see the face of God but the face of his enemy. Such faith might never seem credible to someone like Ivan Karamazov, or still the disquiet of his conscience, or give him peace in place of rebellion, but neither is it a faith that his arguments can defeat: for it is a faith that set us free from optimism long ago and taught us hope instead.

I believe the Bible says something like “hope is the belief in things not seen”. What is it not being seen by so many these days? And is it over-optimistic to thing that hope will ever be realized in this world? What is OK to hope in, and what approaches idolatry?

One olive to go.


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