Posted by: riverchilde | March 29, 2011

Through a glass dimly

In the movie Angels and Demons, this conversation occurs:

Camerlengo Patrick McKenna: . Do you believe in God, sir?
Robert Langdon: Father, I simply believe that religion…
, Camerlengo Patrick McKenna: I did not ask if you believe what man says about God. I asked if you believe in God.
Robert Langdon: I’m an academic. My mind tells me I will never understand God.
Camerlengo Patrick McKenna: And your heart?
Robert Langdon: Tells me I’m not meant to. Faith is a gift that I have yet to receive.

All the angst over universalism and decision theology swirling around Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins (link 80 jillion blogs/articles/FB postings here) has me thinking about an old favorite fantasy trilogy I recently revisited a trio of decades after I first encountered it. The Quest of the Riddle Master by Patricia McKillip is the saga of Morgon, a reluctant (and humble) hero battling the forces of evil in order to save his world. Where the story veers from typical fantasy plot lines is in conjunction with the character of Deth (yes, the pun is intended), who is both Morgon’s friend and betrayer as Morgon searches for his world’s semi-divine overlord, the High One. I don’t want to reveal any spoilers here, but I would like to share a poignant scene at the end of the trilogy in which Morgon discovers that the one he has hated, hounded and tried to kill is someone who bore it all out of love. The pain of his discovery harrows his heart:

“All I wanted from you was truth. I didn’t know…I didn’t know you would give me everything I had ever loved….I never guessed. You never let me see that far beyond my anger.”

 The response: ” ‘I didn’t dare let you see too much. Your life was in such danger, and you were so precious to me. I kept you alive in any way I could, using myself, using your ignorance, even your hatred. I did not know if you would ever forgive me, but all the hope of the realm lay in you, and I needed you powerful, confused, always searching for me, yet never finding me, though I was always near you…’ He put his arm around Morgon’s shoulders, held him easily again within his stillness…[Morgon] could not speak; he did not want [him] to move.”

For me, this story speaks of love that transcends anger, hate and rejection, of purposes and reasons that must remain obscure, and the deep reconciliation still possible despite those things. It reinforces my belief that faith is a gift, and we cannot be so arrogant as to assume we know why a person dwells in unbelief. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known .” 1Corinthians 13:12. 

Can we, in our faithfulness, consider that perhaps unbelief may be granted for God’s own loving purposes and reasons? Such a hope comforts me in my own times of doubt.

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