Hurt By God

Periodically, I visit a blog titled Faith and Theology, which is written by Benjamin Myers, a theologian and scholar who teaches at Charles Sturt University’s School of Theology, located in Sydney Australia. In his own words his blog “is a forum for conversations about theology, books and culture” and so, it’s no wonder why I connect with his writing. A recent post that I particularly connected with had to do with being a theologian, which he articulated by making a parallel with a statement by Thomas Mann about being a writer. An excerpt from Myers’ post is as follows:

Thomas Mann once said that a writer is simply someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. I wonder if this insight could also be extended into theology. Theologians are people for whom the Christian faith is especially difficult, incomprehensible, infuriating. As a rule they are not especially talented or spiritually adept individuals. They are people whose minds have been hurt by God, and they are restlessly searching for – what? Healing perhaps, or catharsis? To expect so much from the study of theology would be futile or even dangerous.

My  connection with this post is twofold. In the first, writing is difficult for me, and yet it is something that I cannot leave alone, for it is with me as it is with Joan Didion, who once said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.” Through the labor and play of writing, by attending to ideas, as well as the manifold ways I can express ideas, that which is inchoate in my brain begins to develop and often take a life of its own. Through this I come to understand what I vaguely intuit about life, God, and the human condition.

In the second, the Christian faith is difficult for me. I am haunted and shaken by the reality of God, and who I am in the darkness of his brilliant light. I am a theologian by existential impulse, because my cocoon skin has been peeled back by the lacerating word of God revealing the jangling nerves of my soul, and I know, though I do not completely understand, that the healing I desperately need is found in the wounded and resurrected God revealed in Jesus Christ. It is wanting to more fully understand, and thereby more fully enter into this healing and redemption, but at the same time being confronted by antinomies, that has put me on the theological path, and made me a theologian.

Why do I share all this? I am not entirely sure, except maybe to declare my solidarity with others whose minds (and hearts) have been hurt by God. Or, perhaps this post is just an expression of relief, the kind that comes from commiseration, the kind that comes from knowing you’re not alone.

Whatever the case may be, I resonated with Mr. Meyers’ post, and I want to thank him, and I want to direct those who read my blog to his, and so I say to you, “get thee to Faith and Theology.”

5 Responses to “Hurt By God”

  1. Anthony Velez  

    Mr. Meyers’ most recent post is about T.S. Eliot’s “Dry Salvages” which only reinforced why I like Mr. Myers’ theological reflections. In the short time I was in an MA program in Literature, I did a lengthy paper on Eliot’s Ash Wednesday wherein I tried to layout Eliot’s struggle to redeem language by placing it on the threshold of liturgy. Akin to this, Mr. Meyers’ points to the fact that many misunderstand “Dry Salvages,” seeing in it positive affirmations amidst human struggles, when really it paints a very bleak picture of the human condition. As Myers points out, the irony here, beyond the misappropriation of Eliot, is that there is a note of redemption, but it is a retroactive note that works its way back to “Dry Salvages” after one has read “Little Gidding.” Brilliant!

  2. Roger Green  

    All I can say is that I relate, both to you and esp Joan Didion. I mean, I’m no theologian, but I’m always willing to have a reasoned conversation about faith. Heck, I used to engage the Jehovah’s Witnesses when they’d come by.

  3. Anthony Velez  

    Yeah, isn’t that Joan Didion quote cool? It really helped me make sense of my experience of writing. And I am glad you can relate. I think one of my psychological tendencies is to assume estrangement on my part from others. I’ve just always felt like a square peg in a round hole, even among those who feel likewise. There is a part of me that says to myself, “Grow up and stop being such a teenager,” and there is another part of me that says, “just accept it, but don’t be consumed by it.” Whatever the case may be, I realize that on some level none of us are ultimately isolated from one another, but that is basically a matter of faith, and for me, not experience.

  4. K.L.B.  

    My initial response is: that’s about as inane as claiming you married your wife because you disliked – or even hated her.

    I shall read more, ponder and respond further later.

    Until then…

  5. Anthony Velez  

    Kevin – While you ponder, read Lamentations, or for that matter the Psalms, and I am sure you will see expressions of faith that are not too dissimilar from the sentiments I am expressing here. God wounds his people, which is tough, but ultimately he does so in a manner similar to a physician who breaks the bones of a person whose bones are crooked in order to reset them straight. Also, the post Meyers wrote specifically talked about people whose minds have been hurt by God, which I think is a natural effect when the finite is confronted by the infinite.