Friday, 8 March 2013

God's risk

Into the second half of Lent, into the second half of Tischner czyta Katechism. The 13th conversation is a puzzling one. I've read it now three times and cannot quite see how it fits with the others; it contains no valuable pointers as to how we should cope with the drama of life, what is the nature of God, how we should seek God, the importance of dialogue, or how we should pray. All we get in this chapter is a sterile and inconclusive philosophical argument about how God - in revealing Himself to Man - took the risk that people would go around cutting off the heads or setting fire to all those that didn't interpret His Word in exactly the same way they did.

It is a chapter of abstruse apologetics, touching on Nietzsche, Abraham and Isaac (again) and notions of deicide ("only if we consider God as Man can we kill God").

One thread of the chapter, however, is worth considering in detail.

"Look at all the changes of order in Europe - all the revolutions... technical progress, the European critical faculty of reason which has no equal - which states that everything that is obvious can be questioned, criticised, even attacked," says Fr. Tischner. "Do you see the Christian revelation at the root of Europe's tendencies to create great social illusions, great ideologies, utopias and dangerous delusions? It is from the soil of Christianity that communism, fascism and the rights of man have all stemmed - not from Islam or Buddhism," continues Jacek Żakowski. "Do you not see the sin of Christianity in the great destabilisation of the world?" he asks. [Remember, these conversations took place more than five years before 9/11.]

Fr. Tischner takes us back to the Gospels and the Disciples urging Christ to set fire to the towns that had spurned their evangelising. "He who scorns and offends the servants of God scorns and offends God," they said. "That is what the apostles felt. Of course, Christ questioned their logic, but it is deeply rooted in the nature of those gods that arose across Europe," says Fr. Tischner, "And successive apostles will continue saying: 'And if you, Lord God, do not do it yourself, we will do it for you.' And they will burn cities in His name."

The argument becomes circular and inconclusive. A lot of evil has descended upon man in the name of Christ, because of faulty interpretation of Christ's will. Fr. Tischner concludes: "There are no easy solutions here. It would be absurd to suggest so in this conversation. So I think that we should remain with that awareness of that great tension between sin and good that Christianity has brought into this world."

So we leave Chapter 13 none the wiser. God, revealing His love for man through the revelation of his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, took the risk that by doing so, He'd be unleashing two millennia (at least!) of killing people in His son's name. 'Please, accept the mystery'.

This time last year:
A third of the way through Lent

This time time two years ago:
Balancing surfeit and shortage

This time three years ago:
Congruent consciousness

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