Saturday, June 10, 2006

Of God Who Bursts Like A Balloon

One of the novels I'm still trying to get through is Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin -- not that it's tough to get through (it's excellent). I'm just doing too many other things to commit lovingly to it. But the other night I stumbled on a great couple of lines, and an insightfully provocative image:

"Over the trenches God had burst like a balloon, and there was nothing left of him but grubby little scraps of hypocrisy. Religion was just a stick to beat the soldiers with, and anyone who declared otherwise was full of pious drivel" (77).

This is the narrator's description of how World War I had transformed her father into an atheist. It occurs to me, however, that this is not the first time, nor the last, that God would "burst like a balloon." Certainly the next World War brought with it repeating images of a god who bursts in the face of his people, over and over again. And it seems that he continues to burst even today, despite our continued efforts to inflate and re-inflate him.


nedric said...

I agree and appreciate the concrete imagery.

I am reading Tillich for my comps and in one of his texts, The Courage to Be, he concludes that, "The courage to be is rooted in the God above the God of theism who has disappeared in the anxiety of doubt." This is a little too optimistice for my tastes, hence my affinity for the bursting imagery.

Plus, "god beyond the god of theism"?

Monica said...

I agree that the Tillich quote is somewhat discouraging, although I can buy into it if the "God above (beyond?) the God of theism" is only the God we can find in the face of the other. I don't know how else it could work without being simply a desperate effort to preserve the god we have created.