A poem by Scott Cairns, from his collection, Philokalia, entitled
The Spiteful Jesus
Not the one whose courtesy
and kiss unsought are nonetheless
bestowed. Instead, the largely
more familiar blasphemy
borne to us in the little boat
that first cracked rock at Plymouth
--petty, plainly man-inflected
demi-god established as a club
with which our paling generations
might be beaten to a bland consistency.
He is angry. He is just. And while
he may have died for us,
it was not gladly. The way
his prophets talk, you'd think
the whole affair had left him
queerly out of sorts, unspeakably
indignant, more than a little
needy, and quick to dish out
just deserts. I saw him when,
as a boy in church, I first
met souls in hell. I made him
for a corrupt, corrupting fiction when
my own father (mortal that he was)
forgave me everything, unasked.
The poem expresses a conviction of mine, which has been a cause of some reflection. I regard it as axiomatic that God is perfection, Ultimate Reality, and the One in whom there is no darkness at all. Any less a concept of God would be a contradiction of who and what God is. Consequently, it is not possible that a man could be more loving than God, or indeed 'more anything' that is good. How is it, then, that we do in fact see men and women who seem to be more compassionate than God? Mere mortals who love unconditionally, even when the love is neither sought nor returned? Who accept with loving embrace the unrepentant sinner? Who forgive without measure, even when no forgiveness has been begged? Is it not enough to answer that, since we do observe such mortals, and to the extent that their behavior surpasses the perceived goodness of God, it must be that our conception of God is 'a corrupting fiction'? I'll confess that I am thinking out loud here, and not very rigorously or systematically, at that. But the discontinuity remains. It is not possible for me to 'out-love' God. So, if I embrace my gay brother in Christ in genuine love, asking nothing of him but that he receive that love in blessing, should I not expect that this love remains but a pale reflection of the full and perfect love which God lavishes on him?
Peace of Christ.