May 17, 2014 Editor

Chapter Seventy-Three

In 2007 I first published Chrysalis Crucible, a coming-of-age novel about young Andy Norton who goes off to West Berlin in the early seventies to evangelize – with all the answers. You can find a page about it on this website.

I’ve republished it (2015) as Kindle eBook and Amazon print-on-demand.

Andy discovers in West Berlin instead that not only are people not asking the questions to which he has answers, he is being confronted with a barrage of questions coming at him so fast and furious like clay pigeons in a skeet shoot, that he has no time let alone capacity to keep up with answers.

Andy writes at times to a future self, “Professor Norton” in a bid for answers. The Professor is as silent as God. Or is he/He?

This chapter treats of two recurring novel themes: faith and sex. Fancy that! They seem so intertwined in the Good Book too, and touch similar welsprings…

Two excerpts:

Sometimes also, faith presents as a grand, transcendental temptation, a mirage even, one I wish I had never given in to pursuing. Life would have been much simpler, surely! It’s difficult enough negotiating all the vicissitudes of life on this planet without a complicating metaphysical overlay constantly impinging upon and at times wreaking intellectual and moral havoc.

Dan’s cynicism, Lorraine’s rebellion, Susan’s indifference, and my own agonies of self-analysis and doubt. Why should I not, like Job’s wife, simply curse God and be done with it? Why hang onto a faith that so often seems to get in the way of life rather than enable it, let alone enhance it? Why this incredible yen to believe in Jesus?

I know that even raising these questions is part of the biblical “revelation” (can I ever escape it?), that the origins of Western cultural scepticism and atheism are embedded in the Good Book itself. Just try the lamentations throughout the Psalms for starters, or the book by that name, or the prophets. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” They ask the question endlessly. The wicked always prosper, and thereby throw into question the second fundamental biblical assertion about God, namely, that he is good.

What about Jesus’ cry of dereliction from the cross. “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” A powerful atheistic cry if ever there was one! The first fundamental biblical assertion about God is not so much that he exists but that he is present, even accessible to us, in all the wild vagaries of life’s journey. Who has a consistent belief in that without some pretty serious and often despairing—even desperate—wrestling?

Dan’s, Lorraine’s, my sister’s, my own struggles testify abundantly to that, as does life after life, including that of Jesus, ultimately pointing to such profound questioning of God’s presence. “God is There and is Not Silent” (Francis Schaeffer) indeed! A tad too quickly affirmed…

I know [sex] will only satisfy if framed appropriately, properly contained. Rivers, oceans, and fires are surpassingly wondrous within boundaries, wantonly destructive if such confines are breached.

Well, you’ve heard my case, Professor. I presume I know most of your response—if you are still professing the Christian faith, that is. Apart from the potential dangers of VD and unwanted pregnancies (I won’t even touch homosexuality), you would talk about the psychological impact of two becoming one flesh, even for just one night, and the emotional scars left on all. You’d suggest the “Happy Hooker” was perhaps not so happy after all, rather compulsive and needy, that 007 was modelled on a happily married man, and that Ian Fleming’s secret agent fantasy would likely have long since contracted syphilis and died raving mad like Nietzsche. You’d propose that hiking well-known trails repeatedly, even “‘til death do us part,” is perhaps not so bad after all. Fewer nasty surprises for sure! The view and the flag raising could vary infinitely, even if always in the same valley! And you’d say overall, perhaps God knows best, which presumes there is a God and that He’s written a book…

And since you’re not answering just now (you’ve been consistent in that resolve), I’ll sign off.

‘Til next time.

Sincerely Andy

Pleas click on: Chapter Seventy-Three

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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.