I’ve been trying to stay up to speed in this “Competitive Reading Group” I’m a part of… I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. I’ve discovered how much stupid, mindless things I read, which I guess is good to be aware of, but a little disappointing to realize. There have been a few good books in the mix however, and I noticed similar themes in a couple that I’m finishing up (rather, one finished, and one kinda stuck halfway through…) They are Richard Rohr’s “Job and the Mystery of Suffering,” and Walter Bruggemann’s “The Psalms and the Life of Faith.” (I’ve also been putzing around trying to finish “The Cloud of Unknowing…” It’s a dense one…)
One of the common themes that I’ve noticed running through all three of these works is the primacy of relationship. Ultimately, it’s not about figuring things out, about getting answers, clarity, or control. Without clear answers or control, we are left with mystery, faith, and trust. And at its core, all of reality boils down to relationship, for how can you trust someone that you don’t know? And how do we know the God of the universe who “spread the North above the void, and poised the earth on nothingness (Job 26:7)?” We know him through the text – through Jesus – through his body (the Church) – through “the other” – through beauty – through suffering. We know him through experience. We know him through falling in love. As Rohr said, “People are always falling in love with God, especially after they recognize that God loved them when they were unlovable, God trusted them when they could not trust themselves, and God forgave them when no one else would.”
Therein lies the beauty of the Psalms, of Job. They don’t explain things clearly and concisely, wrap things up in 3 points and an application. They introduce us once again to the one who is the Lord of the Starfields, but at the same time can be known. They dare us to enter conversation, to have a dialogue with YHWH and expect an answer. And they leave us uncomfortable, unsettled, and taken aback. They defy easy answers, rigid categorization, and certainties. They invite us to know and be known, and to fall in love. And what could be more exhilarating?