"Napa Valley" Brocken InaGlory. Licensed. Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
Q now considers in greater length what theologians call "theodicy." That unusual word indicates an inquiry into how it is that an all-good, all-powerful God could allow evil in the world. Thus, it is an effort to justify God, which is its literal meaning. While we can be glad Q didn't use "theodicy" in his book, bad things do happen to good people. Sooner or later most of us will need to consider it, both in our heads and in our guts.
Now it's Margaret's turn to advance her version of a panentheistic theology as an alternative to the theistic one of her childhood.
- Margaret reflects on similarities between Jen's experiences and her own. Do you think that connecting with others . . . especially with their pain . . . helps us to connect with, and perhaps advance the healing of, the pain in our own selves?
- Margaret talks about ideas getting "stuck" on things inside of us: our pain perhaps . . . or on the defenses we erect to protect that pain. Does her notion inspire reflection? If so, what? In your experience, are faith communities places where people feel comfortable bringing their pains: physical, spiritual, relational, social . . . as well as their sometimes painful emotions of doubt, anger, frustration, sadness and yearning?
- Is your God sort of a "Divine Wizard?" If so, how's that working for you? If you think of yourself as an "atheist," is it the idea of God being a "Divine Wizard" that you reject?
- Margaret reminds Advocatus of the prayer he read at Elsewhere's Sunday morning worship. It might be useful to go back and re-read it yourself, this time in the context of what we've been describing. You'll find it on page 58. What leaps out at you in that prayer? Does it give you a different perspective on God?