Sunday, October 07, 2012

Rabbi Kushner, God, and Healing

I was listening to Rabbi Harold Kushner today on CBC radio's Tapestry.  Rabbi Kushner wrote the popular book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.  The book was written to fulfill a promise made to his son that he would not be forgotten after his early death from a very rare syndrome that caused him to rapidly age prematurely.

In his talk with CBC, Kushner spoke of the passage from 1 Kings, 11-12:  Then the Lord said:  Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord;  the Lord will pass by.  There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord--but the Lord was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake--but the Lord was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire--but the Lord was not in the fire.  After the fire, a light, silent sound.

It was in this "light, silent sound" (sometimes translated as a "still, small voice") that was where God was.

God is not to be found in the painfully unfair things in life. He is not the cause of tragedy.  He does not cause natural disasters or untimely death or genetic defects.  That is nature.  That is biology. And, biology is, as Kushner says, "blind".  It does not look at who may or may not deserve tragedy in their lives. God doesn't do that either.

 God is our comfort. The Psalmist says "I will  lift my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help."  He does not say "...from whence comes the earthquake, or the illness."  He tells us, "my help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." (Psalm 121)  God is there to help us to heal--which Kushner points out, is different from being "cured". Interestingly, Eastern Christianity sees sin as illness--we are in need of healing and this is what God is--balm for the soul.

Using Our Lord to further one's personal power; to control others, does God a huge disservice, and drives people away from His loving arms.

If God exists to show us the extent to which we are loved, and to wrap us in his healing balm, can we act otherwise to our fellow human beings?


7 comments:

Colleen said...

That is beautiful. Thank you. I have always believed this. God heals. God loves. God brings good out of bad.

Dymphna said...

You're welcome. I have never read the good Rabbi's book, but was quite impressed with his interview and what I was able to find by him on YouTube.

It really is a refreshing perspective on God and suffering.

Joann Nelander said...

Your comment, "Eastern Christianity sees sin as illness--we are in need of healing and this is what God is--balm for the soul," reminded me of the seraph serpent lifted on the pole in the desert to bring healing to those who had been bitten and looked upon it hanging on the pole, the serpent, long a sign of Sin, and Jesus, who became Sin that He might bring good from Evil.

Dymphna said...

Very interesting. That ties a lot of things together.

Barbara Schoeneberger said...

I love the Rabbi's comment that healing doesn't mean cured. And if we meditate on it, our Eastern brethren are quite right that sin is illness. Often illness is due to sin of the mind and heart, when we have created a rift between us and God. (I am not speaking here about genetic defects.)But He is always there to reach across the great divide and take us into His arms. We only have to turn (converso) to Him and He does the rest. Our God is truly and awesome God. Thanks for this inspiring post.

Barbara Schoeneberger said...

I love the Rabbi's comment that healing doesn't mean cured. And if we meditate on it, our Eastern brethren are quite right that sin is illness. Often illness is due to sin of the mind and heart, when we have created a rift between us and God. (I am not speaking here about genetic defects.)But He is always there to reach across the great divide and take us into His arms. We only have to turn (converso) to Him and He does the rest. Our God is truly and awesome God. Thanks for this inspiring post.

Dymphna said...

I think it is interesting how faith and other areas, such as medicine and even psychology can converge.

True religion is not against science.

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"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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