Wednesday, January 25, 2006

One more from "A History of God"

At the end of Chapter 10, Karen Armstrong recounts the following story, which, by her tone, may or may not be historical fact, but is insightful nonetheless...

"There is a story that one day in Auschwitz, a group of Jews put God on trial. They charged him with cruelty and betrayal. Like Job, they found no consolation in the usual answers to the problem of evil and suffering in the midst of this current obscenity. They could find no excuse for God, no extenuating circumstances, so they found hi guilty and, presumably, worthy of death. The Rabi pronounced the verdict. Then he looked up and said that the trial was over: it was time for the evening prayer."

The sense of God in me has always been comparable to the urge for sex in that it is not the least bit cognitive. It is not reasonable. No matter how I try to think about it, discipline my mind, consider different perspectives, etc., the reality changes precious little.

To that end, I find that I can chastize God for an imagined unfairness, or question him for suffering, or shake my fist and blast obscenities; but in the end I'm always drawn again, metaphorically, to the feet of I-Know-Not-What. I confess to pride and arrogance, and that Your ways are not my ways, Your thoughts are not my thoughts.

I contemplate suffering, tempted to reduce it to nothing if not the electro-chemical reaction of a brain possessed of a body that is damaged or deprived. Perhaps our view of suffering is immature. Perhaps, as pain is the body's way of telling us that something is wrong, things like Auschwitz are a way of telling us collectively that we are in horrible, horrible shape? (Precious little consolation to the vitims, I'll concede). If we view ourselves as a whole (humanity) rather than a group of individuals(Tom, Dick, Harry...), this perspective seems to make sense. The death of a person is much like the death of a skin-cell, while it cerainly blows for the individual, it may be the best for the collective.

I suspect that we're shaking our tiny intellects and collective fists at a God that simply does not hold to the same priorities as do we.

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