But I’d already learned to respond to most challenges and catastrophes by saying not, “God is trying to tell me something,” like pain is a code, but, “There is a way to serve God in every situation.” Suffering can be offered up for others; it can change us, make us more humble or more loving; it’s an opportunity to trust in God; when the suffering is a result of societal crimes and “structural sin” it can be an opportunity to fight for justice. These are all ways of serving God through pain. I don’t know if it’s best to think of these acts as revealing the meaning which was always embedded by God in our suffering, or as imbuing our suffering with meaning by imbuing it with love.
I don’t remember working a lot, but I must have worked a lot. Because it was a good place to disappear to,” Tweedy said softly of making Sukierae, which commenced with Spencer before Susan got sick, and was inevitably affected in the aftermath. “This is the argument that I always feel like never gets as much traction as the ‘tortured artist’ argument, [which] is that artists actually have it a little easier because everybody fucking suffers but artists have something to do with it.
Christ’s wounds were in fact not healed. He’s got them now, in Heaven. He had them when He appeared to the disciples; they’re part of the imitation of Christ by the stigmatic saints. God heals some wounds. Others, He glorifies. He transforms them in some way we can’t necessarily imagine beforehand, just as we can’t quite imagine what it will mean for our flesh to be glorified in the Resurrection.
Eve Tushnet. This is an astonishing insight to me. (via giftsoutright)
Farrer described Lewis as ‘the most successful theological apologist our days have seen.’ He was of the view that Lewis’s imaginative and rational powers were ‘so fruitfully and so mutually engaged’ and that it was ‘this intellectual imagination’ which made the strength of his religious writings; ‘there lived in his writings a Christian universe that could be both thought and felt, in which he was at home and in which he made his reader at home.’ Despite this mutual engagement, Farrer submits that Lewis’s imaginative side was his stronger suit: ‘his real power was not proof, it was depiction’ and he wrote of The Problem of Pain that, though ‘we think we are listening to an argument, in fact we are presented with a vision; and it is the vision that carries conviction.’
What is at issue here is a species of vision that breaks down the rigid lineaments of a world that interprets itself principally according to the brilliant glamour and spectacle of power, the stable arrangement of all things in hierarchies of meaning and authority, or the rational measures of social order and civic prestige … The scale of the reversal cannot be exaggerated: when Jesus stands before Pilate for the last time, beaten, derided, robed in purple and crowned with thorns, he must seem, from the vantage of all the noble wisdom of the empire and the age (which wisdom Nietzsche sought to resuscitate), merely absurd, a ridiculous figure prating incomprehensibly of an otherworldly kingdom and some undefined truth, obviously mad, oblivious of the lowliness of his state and of the magnitude of the powers into whose hands he has been delivered. But in the light of the resurrection, from the perspective of Christianity’s inverted order of vision, the mockery now redounds upon all kings and emperors, whose finery and symbols of status are revealed to be nothing more than rags and brambles beside the majesty of God’s Son, beside this servile shape in which God displays his infinite power to be where he will be; all the rulers of the earth cannot begin to surpass in grandeur this beauty of the God who ventures forth to make even the dust his glory. There is a special Christian humor here, a special kind of Christian irreverence: in Rome the emperor is now as nothing, a garment draped over the shoulders of a slave and then cast aside. Christianity is indeed a creed for slaves, but in neither the subtle Hegelian nor the crude Nietzschean sense: in contrast to Hegel and Nietzsche—to dialectic and diatribe alike—Christian faith speaks of the slave as God’s glory, the one who lies farthest out in the far country, to whom tidings of joy are sent from before the foundation of the world, and from whom the free and infinite God cannot be separated by any distance, certainly not that between the high and low, because he is the distance of all things. Indeed, the beauty of God reveals itself with its most incandescent intensity among those who suffer, who are as children, who are powerless, because—for all they lack—the ultimate privation of violence often has not entered into them, for the simple reason the they do not occupy the position of coercive force. Not that the weak are not sinners, or that spite and cruelty cannot make even of weakness a weapon, but nevertheless, the weakness of sinners is the strength of God, and when he dwells among the suffering, God is most truly known as the God he is.
David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite, pp. 337-8 (via bluedollar)

There are many variations on this story, of course, and many other stories are coherent fragments of this one. It is a story that has been used mightily to awaken the imagination and stimulate holy desire in places where “religion” does not go. The principal point I am making here about it, though, is that it is not a story, but The Story. It is normative, the Zion of all stories, and draws all others to it. Because it has its foundations in the foundations of the world, it will not go away. It has made the world and will end it.

This means that the child in the ghetto can lawfully dream of her strong and loving king no matter what society does and no matter what smart people tell her about her prospects. It means the miserable and broken child of divorce may imagine in hope the faithful prince who, like the faithful bull, always loves his princess and no other, and that happily ever after means just that. It means the good fairy tales are good because God wrote them, and that the children are perfectly free to forget the ugly, stupid ones, since, quite contrary to what the wicked professors say, they aren’t true.

S.M. Hutchens, “The Fairy-Tale God” (via settledthingsstrange)