Recently, Isaac and I have been reading through the Bible he was given at his baptism. Isaac has a very real faith, so mummy decided it was time we started to look a little more at some of the great stories and events of the faith. And what an interesting idea that was…
We start with creation. Happily looking at the beautiful pictures of the Garden of Eden, discussing about how God made everything and it was good. So far, no problem. Then we got to the whole Adam and Eve shambles.
‘But mummy, if God made everything, why did he make that nasty snake?’
Holy hand grenades, start with the easy questions there kid! And so it’s gone on. Noah’s Ark. Moses and the plagues. Jacob and his delightfully fratricidal offspring. Joshua and the Caananites. Story after story after story that, frankly, makes God look like a bit of an arse. Today was Moses, and looking at my stunning, beautiful 4 year old and trying to work out how a loving God could allow the wholesale murder of innocent children nearly tore my heart in two.
I’m finding it really hard going. Yes, I know Jesus is coming, but let’s be honest, it’s still pretty grim reading, this whole Christianity thing, isn’t it? We go from there to Paul and his ideas on women, homosexuality, and various other topics, to the history of a church that historically hasn’t exactly been sweetness and light. From the crusades to the sexual abuse, from burning people who disagree with us to silence at all the wrong moments, we’ve ballsed it all up pretty mightily.
And yet. Actually in some ways I find that reassuring. Because somehow, despite screwing it up completely, the church survives. And it survives with a message of triumphant love and freedom that the world simply can’t offer. An impossible faith for an impossible species, called to partner with God not because of our own great worth but because of His great mercy.
As I read these stories, sometimes I get really angry. And I think that’s ok. Blind passivity in faith is never a good thing, and it’s right to question. It’s right to rage against unfairness and oppression. But I also feel just a tiny bit hopeful. Because I read the story of a people broken and unloveable, and yet somehow, hope still triumphs. The church militant still limps on. The candle never goes out completely. Easter is always on the way. Aslan is on the move, no matter how hard we try and keep winter going. Death never wins, despite how inevitable it seems.