Thursday, 18 February 2010

Nate Kerr: praying with the victims in Haiti

Over in The Other Journal, Nate Kerr offers a poignant theological reflection on the Haiti disaster: "With Sighs Too Deep for Words: On Praying with the Victims in Haiti". He writes:

What I am suggesting is that if we are going to go on speaking of God, as distinguished from merely speaking about God, in the wake of the events of January 12, we shall have to relearn the language of prayer. We shall have to learn a peculiarly wordless kind of language, a language that speaks to God by way of an outgoing action that is open to and waits vulnerably upon the free coming of God. To relearn such a language, we shall have to be humble enough to forget for just this moment at least that we are homo sapiens, to admit that we as human beings were created to be vulnerable and open before God, to admit “that you and I are homo precarius.” And that will require that our lives be given over to those who are in the most precarious and vulnerable position of all.
Be sure to head over and read the whole thing.

6 Comments:

Fat said...

Nate Kerr has looked into the cries of what would seem to be the most abandoned, broken people in the world and found God. His is a profound response without that political axe it is so easy to wield. Those groans too deep for words have been given direction.

Thank you Ben for finding and sharing that deeply moving reflection.

roger flyer said...

We must learn to speak in tongues and tears.

roger flyer said...

Nate. This is a profound essay. Thank you.

Bob Covolo said...

A wonderful theological meditation.

I was particularly struck with how Nate moves beyond a theodicy to reflect on the doctrine of creation and the Spirit...

"...surely we must resist any interpretation of this event—either as mere cosmic chance or as the outworking of some inscrutable divine will—that refuses ways of living and working with the Haitian that affirm again the goodness of creation."

Paul Tyson said...

Thanks Nate. Everything you have said sits within what can be said, and is open to that which – far more importantly – is beyond the language and power of homo sapiens.

It strikes me that theologians often have little interest in actually being prayers. It is easy for theology itself to be a mere mind game about God – but surely this is horrifyingly impious. If we cannot pray, what arrogance do we assume when we talk about God, and judge God by our faithless, prayerless merely intellectual standards? I think Ellul’s book on prayer is – like most things he wrote – still waiting to be discovered, and of deep importance. The importance of solidarity for the afflicted, and the fact that prayer in the face of tragedy is always an active empathy with the afflicted, is beautifully brought forward in Nate’s piece – yet the centrality of prayer to the life of faith goes further than this. And for us theo/philosophically minded types, it is oh so easy to just think, and not live our lives in God (Ellul’s understanding of prayer), and our intellectual labours are all so much dry bones – even when we are right – without the breath of His Spirit being our life.

Thanks again Nate.

roger flyer said...

Paul-
What a beautiful comment. Lord, please blow life on these dry bones.

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