As sensual, passionate, egotistical humans, we live with the music of gods pulsing in our veins, but the toe-nail dirt of chimpanzees getting into our skin. We know the questions and revel in them, we even act as redeemers, but are lost.
There’s almost an offence in the question, “Where are you Adam?” As if our maker who put us in this predicament in the first place, is messing with our minds, but we have nowhere to go, like Adam we know that we are out of our league. Faced with the outrage of trying to overlook a dilemma that feels like no fault of our own, but held responsible anyway, we opt for the last resort – to hide, to avoid our tormentor.
‘They wanted as we say, to make their souls their own, but that means to live a lie, for our souls are not in fact our own. They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, “this our business, not yours” – but there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were and eternally shall be mere adjectives.’5
None of us can talk for long about this kind of pain before we begin to feel like hypocrites (compared with the sort of pain some people have to deal with). Us artists and others like us who have a strong sense of justice and compassion, must beware the instinct to strike a posture of wounded-ness and outrage towards God and the way this universe is arranged. A kind soft heart is not always appropriate, even for a person who is in pain, not that we should be harsh, but sometimes the best thing is
silence, just being there and hoping to find a way ahead.
We Protestants in particular have a lot to answer for here. Much of our agonising comes from the suggestion that God is just a cosmic 'person'. Yes part of the trruth is that God is a personal being, but if we stay there, our awareness of the dreadful mystery of the divine and of the beyond-personal nature of God is lost and we are lead relentlessly into tortured arguments with a little-matey God who does not actually exist. Might just as well be talking to the wall.
History is littered with various Neitzches, Marx’s, Voltaires and others who came up with grand eloquent and sarcastic dismissals of such a God, and many fell for them because they themselves had actually worshipping this straw-man, aka a 'Simple Person-God' who you can just 'have a chat to about things'. A weak hand-wringing grandfather in the sky, Creeping-Jesus as Blake said. And saddest of all, those outraged (angry-young-men) philosophers of the 'god-dismissing superman' made the 20th century the bloodiest of all.
'Reality is not something we could have guessed,' says CS Lewis. 'That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected I should feel we were making it up. But in fact it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up, it has that weird twist about it that real things have. So let us leave behind all these boys philosophies, these over-simple answers. The problem is not simple and the answer is not going to be simple either.'
Question: Jesus said, ‘This is my body?’ What does that do to you?
Suggested Reading: Isaiah 53
Suggested DVD Scene: The Passion – scene 13
5 CS Lewis – Problem of Pain – Ch 5