Friday, December 31, 2004

May the Peace of God Which Passes All Understanding

It was the mathematician Leibniz who introduced theodicy into our vocabulary, arguing in an essay that this was the "best of all possible worlds," and therefore the evil in the world did not contradict the goodness of God.

Interesting that this became the theme of Voltaire's Candide, a book prompted not only by the savagery of warfare in the 17th century (see, also, Jonathan Swift's descriptions of war in Gulliver's voyage to the Houyhnhnms. Gulliver's happily naive description of the destructive power of 17th century weaponry convinces his host, an intelligent, thoroughly rational horse, that Gulliver's people are even worse than the Yahoos who live in the land of the horses.), and the abuses of the Jesuits (especially in the "New World"), but by the earthquake in Lisbon. "Interesting," because the earthquake in the Indian Ocean will undoubtedly be the "Lisbon" of our age.

Athenae, however, has already, and wisely, warned us against "learning" from this, a comment that reminds me of my place, and my relationship to this event. I promised a discussion on theodicy, but this is not the time for that. This is a time, for believers, for prayer. Not prayer to an otherwise indifferent god who needs mumblings to take action. That is not prayer, at all. Prayer that changes our hearts, and moves our minds, and directs our bodies, to take the action of human beings filled with compassion for other human beings. Prayer that opens us to the peace of God, which passes all understanding. Which peace, as all the Christian mystics knew, and know, and as the liturgy understands, leads us back into God's world; not away from it.

Questions of theodicy are questions of theory. This is not the time to learn from this event. This is the time to respond to it.

The peace of God be to you
The peace of Christ be to you
The peace of Spirit be to you

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