Sunday, April 13, 2008

'Course He Isn't Safe

A few days ago, we hauled out a chess board. I harangued Devan into playing, over protests she couldn't remember how to play. Five or six years ago, I taught her. I taught her so well, that she beat me in the second game. I quietly put the board away, and we spoke of it no more. But I figured to be mature enough now to take my lickings and enjoy it.

At the outset, I felt pretty good. Two white knights and two pawns were dispatched by my black bishop. But then she remembered how to play.

It is a little misogynistic, this superiority a man would like to feel when teaching the little woman to play chess. Not that I would want to totally annihilate. I could pause cryptically when she appeared to be about to make a dumb move, nod encouragingly when she made a good one.

Win reluctantly.

But I became aware, as I watched my hapless bishop succumb to her imperious queen, of a mind more patient and calculating than my own. Aside from reminding me how much I love the fascinating unique personality of the woman I married, it told something else to me.

I remarked to Devan that I thought we should play more often because I thought it would teach me patience. Something in me rebels at the effort required to consider every possible angle of attack before moving.

Yesterday morning I grimly went out into the garage to face my lawnmower. A love-hate union from the start, my relationship with the walk-behind suffers greatly when it doesn't start on the first pull.

It didn't. Abetting the alienation, what little affection I do possess for yard work had been transferred to a cute little manual reel mover at Lowe's. I had done little more than look, but the allure of a non-mechanical device, the quietness, the simplicity. . .I was definitely interested.

After two hours, I don't want to talk about how many pulls, and the desperate resort of crimping the wire tighter on the spark plug, the old-battle-axe started.

I mowed the yard, my satisfaction at having succeeded conflicting with my disgust at having to keep the dumb thing.

I lack patience. I want things resolved quickly, especially when it is a chore I resent spending time on anyway.

I suppose such a quirk would be acceptable were it limited to things of a more practical nature, but I sometimes find it spilling over-

Strike that. Okay, it's pervasive. No matter how much I study Job, or dump buckets of introspective observation over my head and everybody else's, I don't like it when I can't figure things out. I'm not a neat freak, and I hate routine, but when something comes along that bucks my traces, or won't fit in that one little box I have, as far as I'm concerned I don't have time for it.

There has yet to be an enigma in Scripture or a challenge in philosophy that I don't eagerly accept. I enjoy the unusual. But not much time escapes before I have it wrapped up in a neat little bundle and tied quickly with a string so the recalcitrant thing can't unroll again.

Now, on to the next unsolved mystery of the universe. Why does God allow suffering?

Hhmmmmm. Deep.

I think, (stroking my beard) it is for our own good.

Never mind my lack of experience in the field.

I enjoy thinking about abstracted conundrums. Trouble is, I don't stop there.

An innate fear of loose ends compels me to tie them up in your basic square knot.

A couple blogs ago, I mentioned how modern Christianity rushes toward happiness of a shallow depth. What differentiates me from, say, Zig Ziglar, or Joyce Meyer, is that I can package death and suffering with a little more flair for the melancholic, but still safe, far from the edge of the terrible unknown.

Do you understand? I look down my nose at the ostriches, over the rims of my rose-colored glasses.

God won't fit in your stupid little box, you have to have a much bigger one.

The subject has the fascination of horror. I don't completely understand my obsession with pain and suffering and the seeming cold transcendence of God Almighty.

A mortal perspective of the story of Job is a gloomy one. It appears to be blood sport or a cosmic image of two children placing a dog in between them and both summoning the animal to see who he will run to first.

The great question seems to me not one of circumstances. It is a question of motive.

Not God why did you make life so hard, or even, why did Grandma suffer?

No. God, what were You thinking when You infused dirt with a soul. Was the risk worth the reward? More to the point, was it worth it to us?

The mortal perspective gets colder when you widen it to include all humanity.

Why should we care how You suffered to save us, when we didn't ask to be born to be lost?

And "His ways are above our ways" has the same final unreasonableness as "Because I said so." Staring at the ground at our feet, God appears a capricious bully.

And in the spirit of this post, I will end my speculation here.