Monday, August 26, 2013

God is Becoming: Consolation in the Face of Tragedy - Bradley Artson at Tikkun

If God has truly ceded to creation the ability to make choices, then God didn't kill the innocent, didn't allocate disability, didn't impose poverty.  Thinking of God as having all the power leaves us rightly feeling betrayed and abandoned. It leaves those who defend that error in the same position of Job's friends—discounting our core ethical knowledge in an attempt to defend the indefensible.

God, in choosing to create, gave us an independence that is real.  We, along with all creation, have real agency, and the choices we make are truly untrammeled, unprogrammed, and unforeseen by God. God is vulnerable to surprise and disappointment just as we are. The universe unfolds according to its own inner logic; the laws of physics operate, and God cannot/does not suspend them based on moral standards.

Thinking of God as having all the power leaves us rightly feeling betrayed and abandoned ("was I not good enough for God to intervene?"). It leaves those who defend that error in the same position of Job's friends—discounting our core ethical knowledge in an attempt to defend the indefensible. We do know good and evil: God's Spirit infuses us with that awareness.  Hiding behind "it's a mystery," or "we can't understand," or "it's all for the best" is, in my opinion, worse than unsatisfying, because it requires either blaming the victim or denying our ethical compass.

If God has truly ceded to creation the ability to make choices, then God didn't kill the innocent, didn't allocate disability, didn't impose poverty. Looking for God in special effects causes us to mistake theater or science fiction for life. God is found not in the suspension of nature's laws, but in the intrusion of novelty and surprise from within fixed law, in the abiding nature of hope, and in the transforming power of love (a power that is persuasive, not coercive).

When a beloved student struggled with what became a terminal illness, I saw God being very busy throughout his struggle—in moments of laughter and song, in the strength of the relating that bound us all as a community and kept my student feeling connected through his very last minutes, in the determination to be there with and for his family throughout and beyond the ordeal. I never expected God to guarantee an outcome or suspend the natural. I did expect to find God in the steady constant lure toward good choices and responsibility. And that God did not disappoint.

The full article is available here