Thursday, 19 March 2009

The distance between God and God

In one of my classes last week, we discussed this remarkable passage from Simone Weil:

“God did not create anything except love itself, and the means to love. He created love in all its forms.... Because no other could do it, he himself went the greatest possible distance, the infinite distance. This distance between God and God, this supreme tearing apart, this agony beyond all others, this marvel of love, is the crucifixion…. This tearing apart, over which supreme love places the bond of supreme union, echoes perpetually across the universe in the midst of silence, like two notes, separate yet melting into one, like pure and heart-rending harmony. This is the Word of God. The whole creation is nothing but its vibration.”

—Simone Weil, Waiting for God, pp. 123-24.

11 Comments:

Steve Martin said...

I like it!

It sounds like Christianity looks.

I should have stayed in school.

Anonymous said...

I had never heard of Simone until you posted this. I searched for more information about her and was impressed. I plan to read more from her now.

John Hartley said...

I'm puzzled about why anyone would want to start with a proposition like "God did not create anything except love itself, and the means to love"? Where does it get one that one wouldn't have been able to get by starting elsewhere?

Obviously it's true that without the creation of a universe there would be no means to love, so one could say that the creation of the universe is encompassed in this statement. One could then go on to say that the definition of love is such that the possibility of evil has to be allowed in order for love to be truly expressible (as coerced love is not love), which explains why the universe is the complex mix of good and evil which it is.

But the real question is why one would want to start from this statement? Surely it would be just as easy to start with "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" and "God created humanity in his own image" - these two statements would tell one just as much about the universe as Simone's premise.

The fact is that we believe God is love not on a priori grounds but on the grounds of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Far from opening new insights into the cross, it seems to me that Simone's starting point is a presupposition which takes one's mind off trying to wrestle with the world as it actually is. The real mindblowing nature of the cross is not its inevitablility but that it was God's choice. Isn't that what W Walsham How was trying to express when he wrote "It is most wonderful to know / His love for me so free and sure" (in verse 6 of his hymn)?

Yours in Christ - JOHN HARTLEY

bob said...

I suppose the 'Trinity' tag will have to do if the apparently more appropriate 'Binity' tag sounds a little too close to heresy.

Oppshom said...

I'll have to agree completely with John Hartley.

It's simple to say that the efficient cause of creation is God's love, but does that limit God's creation to love, whereby all else simply falls into place?

Causality and an action itself must be seen as distinct from one another.

dunningrb said...

I guess I'm the only one who finds this quote to be incomprehensible.

saint egregious said...

Judging by the responses so far, Ben, you got some harmonizing to do before this little note of Weil's soothes the rent hearts of the savage blogging beasts!
I'd give it a stab myself, but I don't like the looks of the blood in the water here...

joel hunter said...

Goodness gracious, what responses! How curious that what one goodly fellow finds delightful and enticing, another finds quixotic and infuriating.

Weil's proclivity to indulge in koan-like noodlings is nothing to be alarmed about. She's describing that which eludes full determination in language. Words crumble under the weight of so great a mystery, so profound a love. It's apophatic theology. We stand whelmed beneath the flood of such goodness, such plenitude, which in its very gratis-character, leaves us muttering, gasping and finally dumb. The mind of logic, of A=A, must also die to be raised anew and subsist in Christ. Love grasps and holds us in our finitude, so that while our speech about our union with the deep mysteries of God may be frustratingly lisped, it is good nonetheless.

d barber said...

Simone lived in my apartment building.

roger flyer said...

Joel's got it methinks. The left brain says: Does not compute.

kim fabricius said...

Rowan Williams observes that in Weil's "account of the grammar of the words 'God' and 'love', there are troubling points of tension." But as he goes on to suggest, "Depth is not coterminous with consistency, in Weil any more than in Plato or Hegel."

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