Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Beyond Good and Evil?

This penultimate moment in BATTLESTAR GALACTICA was so powerful. Gaius Baltar was a metaphor for the entirety of the human condition. God continually reaches out to him and he continually is brought down by lust, pride and anger. Yet God never stops, and never fully abandons him. Even when Gaius embraces the idea of One True God, he still makes so many mistakes along the way. Yet he has vision, he can see, he can see God and God working in the world. Here he lays it all out, and tells others of the full breadth of his vision.

I love, of course, his observation that he may be mad, yet that this does not disqualify his experiences as genuine. People may be quick to attribute religious experience to a kind of benevolent madness, but this explanation does not suffice to explain AWAY the experience. It may be that experiencing God requires just such a benevolent form of madness. I've long held this to be possibly true. In fact, I suspect it is true. It may be that for some people, the only way to see God, the only route to God, is through madness.

But is God really 'beyond good and evil?' He's certainly beyond political and religious conflicts. But beyond good and evil? I have long held that the great insight of the Jews was that God was found in the moral, in the good. Yet there is a sense in which God is 'beyond' these concepts, even while giving birth to them. I've suggested on this blog that what we call 'good' is simply the joy of God, or the alleviate of God's suffering, and that what we call 'evil' is just our description of the suffering of God. In the end, I've said, heaven and hell melt away before the shadow of the cross. In a real sense, so does 'good and evil'. 'Right', and 'wrong', these are human concepts, to be sure. But that doesn't mean they are not grounded in God's being, or rather in God's experience.

I believe that the Cross's power is to resolve sin and to finally give us a ground for genuine meaning, without falling into a shallow moralism. What we do matters, because it affects God. But all descriptions of good and evil are themselves descriptions of the suffering or joy of God. God is crucified and resurrected each moment, based on our decisions. We call that 'good and evil', and there is some reason for that. But ultimately, the true reality is beyond that and is swallowed up in Love. For the God that chooses to suffer so that we can exist and be redeemed does so out of love. And yet that love is only made complete when we respond to it by incarnating God in our actions.

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