[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball

2.23.2005

severe mercy

(phrase purloined from vanauken)

last sunday's emmaus group spent a few minutes talking about unanswered prayers, or @ least not getting the answers we want. i, in turn, have been thinking a lot about why, when and how to discipline ellie grace. all of that was in the background when i heard this quote on the way to work this morning:
i might, indeed, have learned, even from the poets, that love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness: that: even the love between the sexes is, as in dante, “a lord of terrible aspect.” there is kindness in love: but love and kindness are not coterminous, and when kindness (in the sense given above) is separated from the other elements of love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object, and even something like contempt of it. kindness consents very readily to the removal of its object—we have all met people whose kindness to animals is constantly leading them to kill animals lest they should suffer. kindness, merely as such, cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering. as scripture points out, it is bastards who are spoiled: the legitimate sons, who are to carry on the family tradition, are punished. it is for people whom we care nothing about that we demand happiness on any terms: with our friends, our lovers, our children, we are exacting and would rather see them suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes. if god is love, he is, by definition, something more than mere kindness. and it appears, from all the records, that though he has often rebuked us and condemned us, he has never regarded us with contempt. he has paid us the intolerable compliment of loving us, in the deepest, most tragic, most inexorable sense.
(c. s. lewis, the problem of pain (chap. 3) (emphasis mine))

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