the battered christian

Imagine a friend of yours posted the following to Facebook:

"My husband, who is really big and strong, went on a bender last night and got really violent and destructive. Before it was all over, he had beaten up several of my neighbors, wrecked a couple of houses, and killed a couple of people in the next town over. This just reminds me of how mighty he is, and how insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things. I am so grateful to him for sparing our family and home. He is so good and I love him so much!"

A reasonable person, upon hearing this, would likely conclude that the woman speaking is 1) off her rocker and/or meds; 2) in the thrall of an incredibly abusive relationship; or 3) both. A true friend would insist that she leave her husband, and seek help.

And yet if you change "my husband" to "God", you get...well, almost exactly what a lot of people have written about the storms that tore through the South last night. (Being originally from that corner of the country, I have no shortage of people in my feed who spent the night hunkered down in basements and closets. As far as I know, everyone is fine, and I am happy for it.)

I guess I understand having a need to believe in some sort of higher power, even though I have no such need myself. And it is only human to want to make sense of the senseless. But I find it really hard not to pity someone who has to shoehorn the indifference of nature--the destructive power of a tornado, the pitiless rise of a tsunami, or the painful cruelty of cancer--into a conception of a God that manages everything that happens and takes a personal interest in your individual life and well-being.

Either God doesn't actually have a hand in all of this, or he is one seriously abusive son of a bitch.


Gino said...

why should anyone's understanding of the deity have to be either/or? for me, it's a whole lot more complex than that.

Brian said...

2 things:

1) I would draw a pretty sharp distinction between that which is complex, and that which is incoherent and incomprehensible. My computer is complex, and I can't tell you how it works, really, but if I cared to learn, I could.

A deity being both all-powerful and benevolently interested in humanity is, to me, incoherent.

2) I wouldn't presume to say what anyone else's understanding of a deity has to be, only mine. If I am going to base how I live my life and interpret the world around me on something, then it has to coherent (or at least not incoherent.)

Gino said...

to me, it's a vanity to assume that i can understand the Creator beyond my own ability to reason.

He's just so much bigger than that.

but i understand that you are not in the business that recognizes limitations to human knowledge.

if there is a Creator, and i see more evidence of it than against it, then he actually does have a hand in all this. that is what 'Creator' means. that we exist and can enjoy bad sex and good beer is evidence of his mercy.

the rest, like tornados, i leave to Him. those are His, as we are as well, and He can do as he wishes.

sometimes, we try to compartmentalize the Creator into little boxes that meet our limited understandings. that is well and fine for thier purposes.

also, we error in thinking that these little man-designed boxes, no matter how high we stack them, can ever begin to contain more than a fraction of what He is.

yeah, we can see Him as an abusive son of a bitch, and i can certainly see where that comes from, but in doing so we are placing him in human terms.