Saturday, April 03, 2010

Holy Saturday 2010

A repeat from a few years back. The words of G.K. Chesterton:

Our faith begins at the point where atheists suppose it must be at an end. Our faith begins with the bleakness and power which is one night of the cross, abandonment, temptation and doubt about everything that exists! Our faith must be born where it is abanoned by all tangible reality; it must be born of nothingness, taste this nothingness and be given it to taste in a way that no philosophy of nihilism can imagine.-- H. J. Iwand

That a good man may have his back to the wall is no more than we knew already; but that God could have his back to the wall is a boast for all insurgents for ever. Christianity is the only religion on earth that has felt that omnipotence made God incomplete. Christianity alone has felt that God, to be wholly God, must have been a rebel as well as a king. Alone of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of the Creator. For the only courage worth calling courage must necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point - and does not break.

In this indeed I approach a matter more dark and awful than it is easy to discuss; and I apologize in advance if any of my phrases fall wrong or seem irreverent touching a matter which the greatest saints and thinkers have justly feared to approach. But in that terrific tale of the Passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but through doubt. It is written, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." No; but the Lord thy God may tempt himself; and it seems as if this was what happened in Gethsemane.

In a garden Satan tempted man: and in a garden God tempted God. He passed in some superhuman manner through our human horror of pessimism. When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God.

And now let the revolutionists of this age choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt. Nay (the matter grows too difficult for human speech), but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.


  1. By coincidence, found this, in a review of a book on Christianity in the Times today:

    ...MacCulloch adds, “I live with the puzzle of wondering how something so apparently crazy can be so captivating to millions of other members of my species.” That puzzle confronts anyone who approaches Christianity with a measure of detachment. The faith, MacCulloch notes, is “a perpetual argument about meaning and ­reality.”

    This is not a widely popular view, for it transforms the “Jesus loves me! This I know / For the Bible tells me so” ethos of Sunday schools and vacation Bible camps into something more complicated and challenging: what was magical is now mysterious. Magic means there is a spell, a formula, to work wonders. Mystery means there is no spell, no formula — only shadow and impenetrability and hope that one day, to borrow a phrase T. S. Eliot borrowed from Julian of Norwich, all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

  2. Anonymous10:23 AM

    I should just give you the links to the "Speaking of Faith" program but, as I've already given the links to the show, the transcript and the "Twitter" version of it, I'll just blog whore my Easter post.

    But, then, I turned on the radio while I did some spring cleaning and came across this program, "Asteroids, Stars, and the Love of God.", from American Public Media. Krista Tippett interviewed the astronomers, Father George Coyne and Brother Guy Consolmagno.*

    Anthony McCarthy

  3. ProfW, from your link:

    Magic, however, has powerful charms. Not long ago I was with a group of ministers on the East Coast. The conversation turned to critical interpretations of the New Testament. I remarked that I did not see how people could make sense of the Bible if they were taught to think of it as a collection of ancient Associated Press reports. (Cana, Galilee — In a surprise development yesterday at a local wedding, Jesus of Nazareth transformed water into wine. . . .) “That’s your critical reading of the Gospels,” one minister replied, “but in the pulpit I can’t do that.” “Why?” I asked. “Because,” he said, “you can’t mess with Jesus.”

    Yup. But you do it anyway. Probably why I don't have a pulpit anymore. And certainly why I still want one.