Acts of Faith
I ran across a few pieces on evil and religion that raised the question of how to relate the two. There was a piece by a reporter who after reporting on the abuses in the church walked away from his faith and his beat.
The reporter asks a presbyterian pastor how to reconcile church abuse cases and rip off artists and the response was to "acknowledge that He (God) is in charge. He knows what I don't know." That didn't work for the reporter, nor should it. It places evil on God.
One might have asked where God was to be found in these stories of evil. Perhaps in the courage of the survivors who stood up and demanded an accounting. Perhaps in the reporter himself, as he sought to dig through and uncover injustices.
That is we locate God within the good. The problem is that God gets identified with every event, so that no event can possibly be outside the will or authorization of God. And when confronted with the evil we see in the world, the goodness of God is called into question.
When I was a kid, our church had a large stained glass window of Jesus knocking on a door (presumably the door of our heart). He can't come in of course if the door is not opened. That's an image I have when it comes to evil. There are real barriers for the good to happen.
It can be us who are the barriers. What are we doing to cooperate with those saving realities that can make a difference for good in the world? It can be in the finitude and the limits of the kind of world we live in, that we find these barriers.
So that there really are evil events outside of the intent of God but somehow God struggles with us, with conditions to create some good in this world. Sometimes with success, sometimes with failure. But an openness and cooperation with God is what is called for.
The frustration at the injustices this reporter sees is itself an indication of a kind of faith, one that says things shouldn't be this way, that the easy religious answers were no answers, that things need to be done to change our world. That's an act of faith.