I often worry about people who go through life and never take time to really reflect seriously about it. Instead, they move from one fleeting pleasure or thrill to the next, never taking the time to appreciate the beauty that surrounds our human existence. Indeed, a wise man once said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”
In that spirit, I have decided to create this blog. To give myself and others the opportunity and occasion to wonder, to ponder, and to reflect.
Often times the world can be a dark place. Full of evil, suffering, pain and the like. You probably don’t need any convincing of this. If you cannot think of an example from your own life, you will come up with one after living life a bit more. Yet, the most powerful examples often force us to ask. The mother of the still born infant, the victims of human trafficking, the survivor of the holocaust, and the atheist all ask the question: Where is God here?
In response, some people of faith, often with good intentions, attempt to answer this question citing God’s ultimate providence, his lasting benevolence, his supreme justice.
In my experience, only rarely do these responses come off as helpful, meaningful responses from people engaging with their faith. And even when genuine, these almost never satisfy our human want for an answer.
Is there an answer? Can we humans find it?
To the former: maybe
To the later: I have come to seriously doubt it.
For now, I maintain that this is a mystery beyond the grasp of understanding. Philosophical and Theological attempts to “solve” the problem of evil can never answer the challenge of those who have endured severe suffering and brokenness here on earth.
What then does this mean? For our lives here as humans? Should we live always in despair? Is our existence a mere function of chance? Have we come about just because eventually after enough billions of years something resembling earth just had to happen?
I think not.
The mystery of evil remains just that: a mystery.
However, if the person of faith has the difficult problem of explaining evil, the atheist or agnostic has perhaps a more formidable task: How to explain the beauty that seems to just pop up all over the place in this world.
The first cry of a newborn, the care and love in the eyes of its mother, the harmony of music, the beauty of a golden sunset, the slow movement of ice on a frozen expanse of water.
The mere joy of human existence. Living, breathing, experiencing the totality of life: good and bad.
Often for me, these sorts of examples are intuitively more powerful than any sermon, scripture passage, or traditional religious experience.
Yet, if one does not take a moment to sit, catch one’s breath… all of this will be lost on one’s being/soul.
Take time to sit and let the beauty of this world wash over you. In this beauty is some of the greatest evidence for a benevolent caring God I think we humans will ever have.
(Inspiration for this post comes from reading Wiesel’s memoirs in Night and watching the film The Thin Red Line by Terrance Malick; Credit is also due Roy Anker for stimulating my thoughts with in class discussion)