Every year, 26,000 babies are stillborn in America. In 2003, one of them was my son.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Theologian's View on God

Earlier today I was reading Joanne Cacciatore's blog, and she referenced a theologian interviewed on NPR by Terry Gross some time ago. Rev. Forrest Church discussed his battle with cancer, which he knew would be fatal, and his belief in God. His words resonated with me as I keep trying to discern for myself what it is I believe about God and why Ben died. They even validated some of what I feel about God and my own belief that my son did not die for a reason, or because God deemed it would be so.

Here is some of his dialogue with Terry Gross:

GROSS: You know, you write in your book, you know, again, about how you don't believe in an interventionist God, and you say, once you start praying to God to cure your cancer or asking God why he didn't answer you prayers, the questions never stop. And then you refer to, like, a bishop who said his faith was shaken by the tsunami.

Rev. CHURCH: Yes.

GROSS: And then you say, you don't like it when people say about a tragedy or about, you know, an illness or death, well, God has his reasons. It's just part of God's plan.

Rev. CHURCH: This is God's plan.

GROSS: What do you object to about that? Why isn't that the...

Rev. CHURCH: Well, I can see how it can give comfort. But God doesn't throw a three-year-old child out of a third story window or allow a drunken driver to kill a family crossing the street. This is not part of God's plan. These are the accidents of life and death. And if God, for instance, is responsible for a tsunami, that obliterates the lives of a hundred thousand people and leaves their families in tatters, then God's a bastard.

I cannot believe in such a God. For me, God is the life force, that which is greater than all and yet present in each. But God is not micromanaging this world. That is a presumption that we are naturally drawn to because of our sense of centrality and self importance, but there are 1,500 stars for every living human being. And the God that I believe in is an absolute magnificent mystery....


Becky said...

Thank you for posting this. It's refreshing to hear someone that is a part of the religious community say something like that. Sometimes I want to scream when people say it's part of God's plan. It makes me feel as though I'm the one to blame or something because they are incapable of accepting anything else.

Virginia said...

Believe me, Becky, I understand how you feel. I just don't think dead babies are any part of God's plan - what a horrible, cruel God that would be.

Catherine W said...

This is really interesting and words of Rev. Church resonsate with me too.
I don't know that there is a reason why terrible things happen. Perhaps they are all just the 'accidents of life and death'? xo

Livingintherainbow said...

Can you get a more authoritive name for a theologian than Rev Church?

It is a helpful and frank interview - thanks for posting it.

I don't think dead babies is God's plan. God did not take my Abigail because he needed an angel! (if he needed another angel he would make one!).

That doesn't mean God is completely off the hook or that I have tidied up all the "lose-ends" of my faith. God didn't intervene to save by daughter. But, I guess there is so much suffering in the world - I am not unique in experiencing pain and death - that I can't take it too personally.

These are very much the kind of issues I wanted to interact on when I started my blog so thanks for sharing it.