Where is your god?

From Karen Armstrong’s A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam:

One day the Gestapo hanged a child.  … The child who, Wiesel recalled, had the face of a “sad-eyed angel,” was silent, lividly pale and almost calm as he ascended the gallows.  Behind Wiesel, one of the other prisoners asked: “Where is God? Where is He?” It took the child half an hour to die, while the prisoners were forced to look him in the face.  The same man asked again: “Where is God now?” And Wiesel heard a voice within him make this anser: “Where is He? Here He is – He is hanging here on the gallows.”

Dostoevsky had said that the death of a single child could make God unacceptable, but even he, no stranger to inhumanity, had not imagined the death of a child in such circumstances.  The horror of Auschwitz is a stark challenge to many of the more conventional ideas of God.  The remote God of the philosophers, lost in a transcendent apatheia, becomes intolerable.  Many Jews can no longer subscribe to the biblical idea of a God who manifests himself in history, who, they say with Wiesel, died in Auschwitz.  The idea of a personal God, like one of us writ large, is fraught with difficulty.  If this God is omnipotent, he could have prevented the Holocaust.  If he was unable to stop it, he is impotent and useless; if he could have stopped it and chose not to, he is a monster.  Jews are not the only people who believe that the Holocaust put an end to conventional theology.

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