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Impasse

July 30, 2009

During my final stretch at the laundromat tonight, I spun some Son Lux (one of the most profoundly Christian albums I know, though not marketed as such), which is still astounding after many, many listens. Like Radiohead’s latest, it simply refuses to get stale. ‘Raise‘, in particular continues to take my breath away as Ryan Lott’s hoarse vocal evokes so much feeling and pain. The line which gets repeated the most,

raise a living thing from nothing
then I will know for myself who you are

usually brings a few tears as I relate to its simple demand. I always imagine these words in Job’s mouth, imploring God to do something and restore one of the many family members whom Job has lost. It’s as if Job is saying, “If you’re out there, God, then show yourself. Do something. Let me know that you are who I knew you to be before you set yourself against me for no reason.”

And then after a few repetitions, I imagine God responding with the very same request. “Job, if you want to understand what I’m about, and why I’m doing what I’m doing, then go ahead and be me for a minute. Create some life, and see what happens, and then let’s talk about how the universe is running.” It’s not an unkind retort that I imagine, but a basic recognition of the complexities in which God trucks each day. Which somehow seems to appease Job, somewhat.

I wish I was as comforted. This just seems like an intractable impasse, and I’m not sure what to do with it. I’m not angry at God exactly, just unsatisfied, and wondering how this story will play out. Will I grow more comfortable with the conundrum, or will I just get used to it? Is this truly a part of life that all of us must somehow accept (in larger or lesser manner)? Or is our discomfort itself important, as it roots us deep in the realities of life, and living after God?

And then few songs later I’m reminded of some other elements of the story, via Son Lux.

Maybe there’s a message of hope here, somewhere between an unsatisfying impasse with God and an abiding with the One who cares for grass and flowers and birds. Of learning to trust an unpredictable God who nevertheless ‘astonishes us with light’, and who ‘trades (God’s) death for our life’.

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