But God is up in heaven
And He doesn’t do a thing,
With a million angels watching,
And they never move a wing…
It’s God they ought to crucify
Instead of you and me,
I said to this Carpenter
A-hanging on the tree.
The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak;
And not a god has wounds but Thou alone.
The cross is the utterly incommensurable factor in the revelation of God. We have become far too used to it. We have surrounded the scandal of cross with roses. We have made a theory of salvation out of it. But that is not the cross…on the cross, God is non-God. Here is the triumph of death, the enemy, the non-church, the lawless state, the blasphemer, the soldiers. Here Satan triumphs over God. Our faith begins at the point where atheists suppose that it must be at an end. Our faith begins with the bleakness and power which is the night of the cross, abandonment, temptation, and doubt about everything that exists! Our faith must be born where it is abandoned by all tangible reality; it must be born of nothingness, it must taste this nothingness and be given to taste in a way that no philosophy of nihilism can imagine.
– Jürgen Moltmann
– Jürgen Moltmann
It is one of the hundred answers to the fugitive perversion of modern “force” that the promptest and boldest agencies are also the most fragile or full of sensibility. The swiftest things are the softest things. A bird is active, because a bird is soft. A stone is helpless, because a stone is hard. The stone must by its own nature go downwards, because hardness is weakness. The bird can of its nature go upwards, because fragility is force. In perfect force there is a kind of frivolity, an airiness that can maintain itself in the air. Modern investigators of miraculous history have solemnly admitted that a characteristic of the great saints is their power of “levitation.” They might go further; a characteristic of the great saints is their power of levity. Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly. This has been always the instinct of Christendom, and especially the instinct of Christian art…In the old Christian pictures the sky over every figure is like a blue or gold parachute. Every figure seems ready to fly up and float about in the heavens. The tattered cloak of the beggar will bear him up like the rayed plumes of the angels. But the kings in their heavy gold and the proud in their robes of purple will all of their nature sink downwards, for pride cannot rise to levity or levitation. Pride is the downward drag of all things into an easy solemnity. One “settles down” into a sort of selfish seriousness; but one has to rise to a gay self-forgetfulness. A man “falls” into a brown study; he reaches up at a blue sky. Seriousness is not a virtue. It would be a heresy, but a much more sensible heresy, to say that seriousness is a vice. It is really a natural trend or lapse into taking one’s self gravely, because it is the easiest thing to do. It is much easier to write a good Times leading article than a good joke in Punch. For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity….
“…My son, I ask you to go down into the lost places. Go without fear…But I have no strength Lord; I have not the power to save them!…No man can save another. Only I can save. Yet My strength is within you. My strength works most effectively in your weakness. When will you trust Me?…Have no fear. Walk into the darkness and bring back souls from it. I am with you always…But what can I do? Where should I go?…You are to do only this: you are to look neither to your left nor to your right. You are to go neither ahead of Me nor behind Me. Wait for Me and I will act…”
…I don’t think it is a conscious refusal to accept truth. Disbelief is rooted in an inability to trust. It takes an effort of the will to have confidence in the ultimate goodness of life, and the experiences that mankind has been enduring for more than a century do anything but trust. Above all, this is the age of fear…
“…Stripped before his eyes was the fundamental problem of his soul: he had been given everything and it did not suffice. He had been graced to see the actions of God as few men had seen them. The consolations poured out upon him and within him were extraordinary, and not the least of them was today’s miracle. And yet…and yet the ancient scar of Adam within his nature dragged him inexorably back, again and again, to this desire for certainty. Not that he wished to force the Creator of the universe into a position of justifying His will, but he hungered for a trace of explanation…He knew full well that if it were given he would soon need a larger one, and a still larger one after that, until in the end no explanation would fill the yawning abyss of his doubt. The illusion of understanding would breed only deeper confusion, more binding forms of inner protest against the violation of all that was beautiful. Not-knowing was the way to ultimate union with the Love whose embrace was the filling of every doubt, the binding up of all wounds. As a Carmelite, he knew the theology and spirituality of the mountain of faith, the way of nothingness, the path that led by the straight route up the mountain of God. Why this relentless pull to the lift and the right, as if a path zigzagging through perilous ravines and precipitous heights were a better way. It was not a better way. He knew it, and yet the tug remained…The question returned again and again, nagging, biting, seizing his attention whenever he sought to fix his mind on the Presence. Why did God permit it? Why? Were the little arrangements of man destined to fall ever short of the Heavenly Jerusalem, endlessly repeating themselves until there came about some radical and comprehensive fall, some awful and majestic collapse into an ultimate evil, wiping away all delusions about the perfectibility of man?…Was this long lesson strung out the course of all of history not a form of cruelty? Oh yes, he knew all the replies, back and forth, up and down, inside out. Freedom. Human will. Man could not love if he were unable to choose love, and with this choice came the ability to choose love’s opposite. [He] could argue an atheist into silence, if one would listen, and he could go farther to implant the questions that could lead a soul in darkness to fairest hope. But beyond that there would still loom the wider and more perilous questions still. His convert would have to face it eventually for he was still facing it after all these years…Why do You permit evil to go so far? Would you let it devour everything?…Not everything, said the quiet voice. Not everything. And from a single seed comes forth entire forests, waiting to unseal their code, to cover the earth with life…”
All Christianity concentrates on the man at the cross-roads. The vast and shallow philosophies, the huge syntheses of humbug, all talk about ages and evolution and ultimate developments. The true philosophy is concerned with the instant. Will a man take this road or that?–that is the only thing to think about, if you enjoy thinking. The aeons are easy enough to think about, anyone can think about them. The instant is really awful: and it is because our religion has intensely felt the instant, that it has in literature dealt much with battle and in theology dealt much with hell. It is full of danger, like a boy’s book: it is at an immortal crisis…Also, with a noble vulgarity, life imitates the serial and leaves off at the exciting moment. For death is distinctly an exciting moment…