July 9-10, 2016

Friends, 

I am always shocked when someone asks me why I think there is evil in the world or as Rabbi Harold 
Kushner wrote in his book “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I am amazed because I came to the conclusion long ago that it is all just a part of life on this planet and that free will can complicate matters. 

It seems to me that those asking “why evil?” are seeking to figure out how God could do this to us. They seem to envision God as the Supreme Being who oversees and orchestrates everything that takes place in the world and in every life. That is not my understanding of God. To me it's the difference between the questions, “why did it happen?” and “how did it happen?” The question “why” seems to be asked by those who see everything as God's will and part of God's plan. That is a concept of God that I no longer have. The question “how” takes into consideration all the variables in society that influence our daily life.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the slaughter of 49 people in Orlando, Florida. But let's look at a 4-year-old little girl, crossing the street with her parents in the crosswalk, with a red light stopping traffic, and pedestrian signs telling the family that they are safe to cross. A car runs the red light for any number of reasons and the child is struck and killed (I am even hesitant to describe the scene as it is so tragic). Unfortunately it happens often in our society. 

Are you one who believes that it is “God's will” and “something good will come out of it,” or that “God's ways are greater than ours” or “God needed another angel”? These were the responses I heard over and over in the past and accepted. 

Today, I know that God is as devastated as we are. These are not “tests” or “punishment.” Tragedies occur, disasters happen, accidents take place, disease exists. Natural disasters are a part of life, addiction is rampant, violence occurs, hatred exists, and terrorism threatens. If I believe that God is reigning from heaven and is planning or allowing these things, then, I could not believe. Many of today's atheists were brought up to believe in that concept of God. 

On the other hand, if we evolve in our understanding of God as “love” and “life” itself, it gives us a totally different perspective. 

We are not here to fear God: we are here to experience God. There is a huge difference. 

I have often said “Our understanding of God determines our understanding of the world and ourselves. There are a lot of things I was taught about God that I no longer believe and there are a lot of things I believe about God today that no one taught me. I read, I have conversations, I pray, I think, I study, I experience, I discern, I listen, I observe, I love, I forgive, I touch, I evolve, I celebrate, and I inquire. That's how I encounter God today. 

So, if I was writing a sequel to Rabbi Kushner's book, I would title it “How do bad things happen to good people?”

Enjoy July! 
Fr Coyne

 

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