We used to have a priest in our parish who habitually responded to any parishioner’s troubles or joys with the question: “Where is God in all this?” The effect of the question was an immediately altered perspective. It vaporized subjectivity, and from that changed vantage point, it called for an answer to the question itself.
Some examples of his response:
Father, Joe has proposed – Where is God in this?
I lost the election to city council – Where is God in this?
I have cancer – Where is God in this?
Anne wants a divorce – Where is God in this?
I got the job – Where is God in this?
These are small personal examples. But history asks the same question. Wars, revolutions, plagues, natural disasters, discoveries, inventions, explorations—all the events that alter history. How were we changed? What did we learn? And where was God in it all?
And so, now, in this new plague, we might ask, Where is God in all this? We can look at some effects so far. Internationally, it’s a major deterrent to globalism. Even the EU closes its borders. Nationally, it demonstrates that federal solutions are far less important than the measures that states, local governments, and communities are taking. And individually, it has already altered our perspective of ourselves vis a vis society: “Social distancing” is a new fixture in our lexicon; “stay home” is a new commandment. Large collectives break down into ever smaller units. Where is God in all this? At this point, the only answer is: We don’t know yet, but Pay Attention.
Humanity is distinguished from all other creatures in this one way: We pursue Logos, we search for meaning, we long for God. We are not different from other creatures just because we love—my dog loves (more and better than I do). For a long time now, secular humanists would have us believe that love is the “answer”, often citing St John’s “God is love” and bestowing approbation on any individual’s dissolution into something called “community”, manifest in varying numbers from one to millions, so that ultimately, the scriptural equation was transposed and became “Love is God”. Faith in God became obsolete, replaced by faith in our new god Love—our love for ourselves and each other. We didn’t need God anymore, we knew who he was, and the search was over. Logos found. Maybe not, though, maybe he is more than our human love, greater, other…. Maybe it’s a good time to re-read that oldest of all books, Job, and discover, again, what he discovered. Staying home, in our solitude, we may find that our personal and interpersonal love was never really enough for us…. In the midst of all our communality, we have been lonely….
This new plague will alter our perspective. We don’t know how yet, but we need to pay attention.