I generally enjoy George Will , but perhaps he should stick to baseball. Compare this nihilistic column in today’s Washington Post to Michael Novak’s majestic piece in the National Review Online. Both try to say something deep about the Tsunami. Only Novak succeeds.
Here is a taste:
He is not a God made in our image. We are made as (very poor) images
of Him — images chiefly in the sense that we experience insight and
judgment, decision and love, and that we too have responsibilities.
This is the God who made the vastness of the Alps and the Rockies
and the Andes; who knows the silence of jungles no human has yet
penetrated; who made all the galaxies beyond our ken; who gave to
Mozart and Beethoven and Shakespeare and Milton and Dante and legions
of others great talents; who infused life into the eyes of every
newborn, and love into the hearts of all lovers; and imagined, created,
and expressed love for all the things that He made. He made all the
powers of storms, and all the immense force of earthquakes, and the
roiling and tumultuous churning of the oceans. He imagined all the
beautiful melodies we have ever heard, and more that we have not.
God is God.
God is our Judge.
We are not His judge.
The question is not, "Does God measure up to our (liberal,
compassionate, self-deceived) standards?" The question is, "Will we
learn — in silence and in awe at the far-beyond-human power of nature —
how great, on a far different scale from ours, is God’s love?"
It would be the greatest and most obscene of illusions for a man,
any man, to imagine that he has greater love for a child mangled in the
oily, dark waters of the recent tsunami than the Creator of that child
has. It would be like Ivan Karamazov being unable to forgive God so
long as one single child anywhere went to bed at night crying in
loneliness and in pain. Who is Karamazov to think that his own love for
that child — a purely abstract, speculative, hard-case, counterexample
love — is greater than that of the child’s Creator?
The tapestry on which God weaves human existence is not the tapestry
within the framework of time that we experience. As we do not
comprehend the power of nature (especially nowadays, when we live so
far removed from it, so protected from it), even more we do not begin
to comprehend the love and goodness of God.
The truth is, the sight and smell of awful human death is sometimes
more than we can take. Perhaps we should feel confidence in the power
of God’s love, but we do not see it. All we feel is the night. Our
darkness is as keen as that of the unbeliever and the nihilist.
Yet in that darkness, we the believers alone (not the unbeliever or
the nihilist) feel betrayed by One whom we love. We alone feel anguish because we cannot understand.
But it is not as if we had not often before bumped into the limits
of our understanding, and recognized nonetheless that there are
undeniable glimmerings of powers and presences we know not of. And,
like Job, we refuse to deny the power of the goodness and light which
we do see, their power to go out into the night in which we cannot now
It does seem that the Creator is not always kind, not even just,
within the bounded space that we experience. It does seem that the
Creator acts with undeniable cruelty. In our time, we have seen
unimaginable suffering. Like Job, we cannot deny what we see.
Neither can we deny the Light, which is what makes the absurd seem
absurd. Only in contrast to Light is the absurd absurd. Otherwise it is
only a brute matter of fact.
No less than the unbeliever or the nihilist does the devout Jew or
Christian inhabit the night. But only the believers continue in the
silence to utter the unseeing yes of our love. The yes that Ivan Karamazov cannot say in the night Alyosha does say.