Thursday, May 25, 2006

When the SS murdered God

UPI column

I was moved by both Elie Weisel on Oprah this week and my journey through Reading Lolita in Tehran as I wrote this week's column. My editor suggests a part two for next week. In a way this week's column is a part two to last week's. I took Dave's suggestion and began right where I left off: God matters.


P.S. Tonight, Jon and I went to see "The Da Vinci Code" and can add our praise for the movie. RottenTomatoes gives MI:3 a 70% and DVC a 20%. Someone is smoking crack... Flip them around and you'll have my ratings. If I get some time, I'll give a brief review tomorrow. If you liked the book, it's well worth seeing the movie, is how I'd sum up my reaction.


Larry Moffitt said...

Hi Julie,

You cut yourself open and put your viscera on the table in today's column. As I was editing it, I kept thinking it needs a part 2.

I found myself circling around and through the content of your logic and always arriving at the conclusion that, unless God has attention deficit disorder, it may be that God simply can't act much of the time. Maybe he just friggin' can't.

After all, it was man's decision (or action) to fall away from God in the beginning -- as described in the apple and talking-snake myth of Genesis. Maybe we have some enormous measure of responsibility to find our own way back and maybe God's invisible, smokey hands are tied.

What if having the responsibility to initiate the restoration of this relationship is what qualifies us to be adult sons and daughters of God? And that sets humankind apart from the rest of creation? A cow or a butterfly, for example, can't do great evil, but neither can they do great works of good. And they certainly aren't qualified to have dominion over the earth.

Humanity, on the other hand, is told to "be fruitful, multiply and have dominion over the earth," and boy do we do it. Problem is, we cut ourselves off from God (apparently at the very beginning of things) and so our lives -- from the individual to nations -- are steeped in selfishness. And cruelty beyond belief. We rule all, as God intended, but are unqualified to do so.

What if God is every bit as frustrated by our failure as we are, only without the luxury of getting hugely, earth-destroyingly pissed?

The dilemmas you point out in your column are profound and wipe away all the glib responses you might get from a Waco Christian College grad student or a Bible salesman. This is one of your most searching columns yet. And that's saying a lot because you have a way of confronting the big ticket issues.

This column is a keeper, a "best-of" entry. I still think it needs a part two of some kind, even if only to help the readers resolve whatever can be resolved in the questions you open up.


Rick said...


I am nearly speechless.

I want to say something and am unsure of what and how. So I am just going to ramble out bits and thoughts...

This is one of the best pieces you have written.

Julie, you have something to say that runs deep. You have the gift to say it.

There is something in you that is coming out in your writing that is powerful and real.

I think the reason I like you so much is because you touch those places in me that I have yet been able to articulate.

I agree with Larry. You have opened something that calls for more...

Thank you for opening you soul and sharing what's going on inside. Funny, that somehow through your writing I always feel like I am stepping closer to the "God that matters", whatever that God is.

SusansPlace said...

Julie, you ask the deep questions. Thank you for asking them. How does "God matter" in the light of Auschwitz and your friend's rape and all the silence in response to our anguished prayers? Maybe you will answer that question in part 2. I hope so.


isaiah said...

Gracious writing Julie-

"How does God matter?" What a powerful question.

Reminds me that all our notions of God must die in order for God's truest presence to be revealed.

We, too must die to ourselves to let God live through us.... as Anandakuri- Swami used to quote: 'I pray that death will not come and find me still unannihilated.'

I look forward to your part II.


jim said...

Wow, I'm speechless...almost the same thing happened to a young woman in grad school (also a devoted follower of Christ) I knew while I was in New Orleans about 10 years ago. Picked right off the street as she left a drug store on the edge of the French Quarter. The world is not fair!!

I'm much less pollyanish about God than I used to be and yet it's so easy to fall right back into the Joel Os "Your Best Life Now" mode. I'm struggling especially with this issue since I'm preaching on Psalm 1 this Sunday. (blessed is the one who....)

God sometimes seems so far off as if he's turned his back and walked away. And yet for some reason I find I still have to affirm, at the very least, that God cares and is somehow in the midst of it all. (Isn't that some of the point of Jesus' coming?) Otherwise life does seem like an awful, lonely, scary mess.

I agree with Larry that there might need to be a part 2 of your column. But maybe that's just my desire to see resolution to the cunundrum or maybe its my desire, as you say to protect God's reputation.

Just some rather incoherent ramblings for a late evening...


Gloria said...

Why did the tower fall on those people? Didn't Jesus say to give God glory? I left your essay wondering what Jesus meant. Do you know?

Sacred Center said...

I will be joining you as a UPI columnist in June and so have been reading with great interest and enthusiasm the writers already contributing.

I find I resonate most frequently with yours and love your honest searching. This post made me cry because of its truth. I agree that our image of God is one of the most important issues of our time. Funny you should begin with Oprah though (I realize the focus was Wiesel), because she is one of the people who consistently spouts off the phrase that "everything happens for a reason" -- a phrase that makes me cringe. Being the high priestess of pop culture, I know so many women who repeat this mantra without really thinking it through. Really everything?

I recently read a great article in Commonweal critiquing Rick Warren's popular book "The Purpose-Driven Life" here: I loved the humor of it, but it addresses a similar question. If we believe that God orchestrates everything what happens to our freedom? Do we really want to believe in a God who would "allow" suffering to happen for a reason? Is God really a micro-manager?

I find this question especially interesting in light of my own favorite topic, which is creativity. Creativity is very threatening to institutions and folks who want something to hold very tightly and bring control to a chaotic world. Yet I believe that God is the ultimate source of creativity, which means a force of wildness, of unpredictability, of surprise. God explodes out of the boxes we create for ourselves. And we are created in the image of that God, with freedom to create beauty and tragically the freedom to do the horrendous things mentioned in your article. For me, God is a present and guiding force but not a puppet-master. It makes life much more uncomfortable to believe that awful events aren't part of a grand design, but the God of creative and loving presence who allows us our complete freedom is at least a God I can live with, pray to, and allow to guide me. For me it is an invitation into Mystery.

Anyway, thanks for a very thought-provoking post. I am going to add it to the Commonweal article as an essential resource in a vital discussion.

Blessings to you, Christine