Thursday, April 29, 2010

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

Where is God when you’re hurting?

I’m away Thursday, but I’ll respond to comments on Friday afternoon.


Living Spiritual Rhythms For Today


Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Interesting question! Most of the times the question is "Where is God when I'm hurt?". I think today's question is part of the answer to the "normal" question. We are so selfish and consider wounds we receive as so important and unfair (Where was God, when...) that we ignore the fact, that we hurt others.

Where is God, when we hurt others? Right there. At the same place, where he is, if we get hurt.

Hanging at the cross to pay for it and take our wounds away!

Angela said...

God is hurting with me when I'm hurting
from the loss and brokenness of the world.
When it is a suffering of my own making,
he provides parental discipline, hope for
tomorrow, forgiveness for my wrong.

reneamac said...

I really appreciate what Lukas and Angela have said here. Angela, you are particularly poetic; thank you for that.

Buechner provides a picture for me that is helpful in his, Telling The Truth:

The world hides God from us, or we hide ourselves from God, or for reasons of his own, God hides himself from us, but however you account for it, he is often more conspicuous by his absence than by his presence, and his absence is much of what we labor under and are heavy laden by. Just as sacramental theology speaks of a doctrine of the Real Presence, maybe it should speak also of a doctrine of the Real Absence because absence can be sacramental, too, a door left open, a chamber of the heart kept ready and waiting. (43)

Buechner goes on to say that it is the storms of Job and Elijah and Lear we discover to be the storm both without and within that drive us to madness and nakedness, and concludes with a note of the importance of telling the truth about the storm of God's absence:

There would be a strong argument for saying that much of the most powerful preaching of our time is the preaching of the poets, playwrights, novelists because it is often they better than the rest of us who speak with awful honesty about the absence of God in the world, and about the storm of his absence, both without and within, which, because it is unendurable, unlivable, drives us to look to the eye of the storm. (44)

Greg said...

Thanks. This is very true. We do hurt others and all too frequently put the self before the other instead as viewing oneself as another. God is with us as both victim and victimizer.

Greg said...

Thanks. Somehow we seem to know cognitively that God is with us and is willing to suffer on our behalf, yet he sometimes appears to be far off and disinterested. This doesn't vanquish hope, but it stretches it,

Greg said...

Thanks. I like the words of Buechner. Being in that tension of the absence and presence and the presence and absence of God is much of what Living Spirituality is all about.

Ah, for the poets, playwrights, and novelists to lead the way. Does anyone see potential or drawbacks here?

Angela said...

Yes, there is potential for poets, novelists, and playwrights to lead the way. I think there are
many of these creative individuals in the church, but they have bought into this idea of a consumer culture and I see a lot of quick convenient creating rather than thoughtful lasting creating. Their argument is that they are speaking to the culture in a language it understands, promoting the gospel in a way that is culturally relevant. Today's music, today's poetry, etc. This DOES seem to draw a lot
of people into the church in genuine ways. But...
something is lacking. (Perhaps this is another

I appreciate the way Buechner challenges us to
look honestly at God, and "the storm of his absence", which as Greg put it stretches our hope rather than vanquishes it.

Thanks guys; this discussion really challenges me not only in relating to God and others in this area of suffering, but also in honestly seeking to reflect God in art, music, poetry, etc.

Greg said...

Good thoughts. Some notions of creativity today can be quite frivolous. We need weighty and challenging expressions of both the joy and pain of life with God. Yes, another discussion.

reneamac said...

Hmmm, potential drawbacks... Well, a warning from L'Engle comes to mind:

A life lived in chaos is an impossibility for the artist. No matter how unstructured may seem the painter's garret in Paris or in the poet's pad in Greenwich Village, the artist must have some kind of order, or he will produce a very small body of work. To create a work of art, great or small, is work, hard work, and work requires discipline and order.

She goes on to say,

One problem with the word work is that is has come to be equated with drudgery, and is considered degrading. Now, some work is drudgery, though it is not always degrading. Vacuuming the house or scrubbing out the refrigerator is drudgery for me, though I find it in no way degrading. And that it is a drudgery is a lack in me. [...] Drudgery is not what work is meant to be. Our work should be our play. If we watch a child at play for a few minutes, "seriously" at play, we see that all his energies are concentrated on it. He is working very hard at it. And that is how the artist works, although the artist may be conscious of discipline while the child simply experiences it.

I watched my son try to build a tower from blocks which had already been used by so many children that the corners had been chipped off, edges were worn. They were not as easy to balance as they had been when they were new. The tower would start to rise. Then he would place a block on one which was uneven, and the whole thing would topple. With a shout of outrage he would begin again.

I watched, unnoticed, while he started the tower three, four, five times, unwilling to give up. Tears of frustration were streaming down his face. From his small lungs came uninhibited roars of fury. But he kept at it until the tower stood, a leaning Pisa kind of tower, but a tower.

Work? Play?
(Walking on Water 167-8)

This is one of my all-time favorite books on faith and art, and simply in general.

Greg said...

Interesting insights from L'Engle.

While not discounting the potential of the poets, playwrights, and novelists as the powerful preachers of our times, it seems like a drawback might be to not recognize that art (as life) is work and that work should be play.