The Weakness of God



As we moved from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday to the silence of Saturday, I found myself dreading Easter.  I was not ready to rejoice as news of the bombing of Afghanistan continued in the headlines.  I didn’t want to enter into the mighty, triumphant, victorious, conquering language of Easter as destructive acts of power echoed around the world.  

What exactly does it mean to live as ‘Easter people’? What is the victory that we claim and how is it different from the powers of war and Empire wreaking havoc in the world? Too often in our Christian history there has been little difference.  

In his book, The Weakness of God, John D. Caputo invites us to suppose that God cannot be known or understood through a “strong theology” but only through the weakness of God, “the only thing strong enough to save us.”  Let’s join in Caputo’s imagining:

“Is not the very idea of God as the sovereign lord of the universe the very model after which every terrestrial sovereignty is designed? Is not the sovereign Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, the very model of every earthly patriarchy? How often has the ‘reign of God’ meant a sovereign reign of theocratic terror? What has been more violent than theocracy? What more patriarchal, more hierarchical? What more authoritarian, inquisitorial, misogynistic, colonialist, militaristic, terroristic?

Suppose we abandon the top-down scheme of one Father Almighty, one king to the rule the land (another father), in favor of a paradigm where such sovereign power slips out of favor?…

Suppose we think of God as someone who prowls the streets (a voyou) and disturbs the peace of what Kierkegaard called ‘Christendom’? …

Suppose our thought of God is not domesticated by Sunday sermons by His Reverence or co-opted by ecstatic visions of great military show of arms in a massive square, visions of the supereminent power of the supreme creator of heaven and earth, of the hyper-eminence of the arche?

Suppose instead we take our lead in thinking about God from images of the most powerless remnants and marginalized bodies and nobodies, the little me onta, the obscure pockets and folds and hovels of the world?…

Suppose God is the prime mover unmoved not of physical movement but of justice, and that God moves not by force but by attraction, like a call, by drawing us on and luring us?”*

Suppose, Easter People….

Sarah Henkel is a Teaching Elder. She is a resident at Stony Point Center and member of the Community of Living Traditions, a multifaith community of Jews, Muslims, and Christians dedicated to the practice and study of radical hospitality, justice, and nonviolence.

*John D. Caputo, The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), p. 32-34

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