- Superman #205
by Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee
Have you ever heard a pastor swear? I have. I went to seminary. I've heard many pastors and aspiring clergy swear and utilize rather colorful expletives.
Does this mean they're aren't Christians? No. Does this mean they shouldn't be pastors? No. Then what does this mean?
It means they're human.
Shocking, isn't it? I know, I know, we ought to hold our shepherds to a higher standard than the flock, but too often I feel we do that while losing sight of their humanity. Y: The Last Man once pointed out that this human leadership was the scourge of the church. But it is simply the way things are, and we must wrestle with it. This is probably hard if we maintain a sentiment that church leaders are infallible. When we do hold the clergy to that ideal, it can shatter our whole religious worldview when they inevitably break that ideal and do something, well, human.
As Michael Cheshire writes in Why We Eat Our Own, "Hey, I got bad news, my fellow Christians, pastors everywhere sin because we do get away with it. Some of us are just way better at hiding it."* Now, I'm not trying to excuse any behavior here, or even really condemn it. I just think if we work harder to understand our human failings, a lot of church drama can be mitigated.
So what about Father Leone's behavior in the panel above? He is clearly about to take the name of the Lord in vain. This outburst stems from a great deal of frustration. I would bet we have all felt similar frustrations with people or even with God that could incite such blasphemy. And you know what? I think that's understandable.
Once again this goes back to the problem of theodicy: Why does God allow evil to happen in the world? I've learned in my life that flippant explanations, such as saying it's for the greater good, don't help much in a person's moment of despair. But venting...my oh my that can be cathardic.
If you're frustrated with God, I say let him know that. If he is omniscient like we constantly claim, then he already knows this. Of course I'm not saying we should spout blasphemies for the sake of blaspheming, but I do advocate being honest with God. Which, in actuality, results in us just being more honest with ourselves. Honest blasphemy is preferable to dishonest praise.
I may be completely wrong about that.
But sometimes I remember that Job 7 exists and I am overcome with joy for it is a brilliant piece of writing. Job didn't curse God like his "friends" advised him, but he certainly doesn't withhold his frustration with God.
Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
And of course, I must include in any discussion about theodicy or Job this quote from David Burrell.
"Job is commended in the end because he dared to address the creator-God; his interlocutors are castigated for purporting to speak knowingly about that One."
- David B. Burrell
Deconstructing Theodicy: Why Job Has Nothing to Say to the Puzzle of Suffering
Dare to address God. Even with your frustrations. With the anguish of your spirit. With the bitterness of your soul.
Dare to address God.
*Kindle location 425