Father Forgive Us and We’ll Forgive You

There was a time when I struggled with this song, and whether or not it is blasphemous to have the thought of forgiving God. In the Christian circles I usually run in, Orthodox and not, it is not uncommon to hear theologizing about the human condition that is influenced, I think, to one degree or another, by Reformed thought. It is out of this context that an acquaintance of mine argued that starving people should rejoice that God gave them mud to eat, for example. I think the whole “we deserve nothing” argument is morally bankrupt on some level, as in the way that my dog deserves nothing from me, yet it would be immoral for me to withhold food from him. In what way, then, would it be moral for God to allow my youngest child nearly starve to death, or allow his hospital roommate remain with a desert trash mother who so obviously neglected him, even if we were to argue that God owes neither of them anything?

In Book V of The City of God, St. Augustine argues that though sin comes only through the will of the sinner, we should still ascribe any suffering from the actions of others to the will of God, as it was God who gave the will to the sinner. The problem of evil has always a source of spiritual anguish for me, and it only became more so when my own life became such a struggle. Whichever line of thought I take, I think at some point or another I just have to trust there is some higher reason, greater purpose.

Sometimes it is necessary to forgive someone who did the right thing. Perhaps occasionally those of us who struggle do need to forgive God, for ourselves, and then maybe we can accept that He didn’t really need forgiving all along.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Father Forgive Us and We’ll Forgive You

  1. After realizing today, due to some car problems that had to be dealt with recently and also due to some of my own stupidity, that as I go into the final stretch of school, for the first time since my layoff in 2008 we would not be able to make all the bills we really want to be able to make (the sort you need to keep making to remain solvent), we decided, hell with it, let’s go get some good booze and nice Indian takeout. During the ride in the car to knock off those two errands my youngest fell asleep, so she’s been up late laying on the couch, and has been kind of dancing whilst laying as I’ve played this song 4 times in a row.

    Thanks for that. She’s cute as can be.

    If God gets offended at those who feel inclined sometimes to forgive him, well, I suppose I’m damned on another count. Somehow I can see God walking the line incognito, repeating at a Vespers service somewhere “forgive me a sinner.” But maybe that’s just the apostate and blasphemer in me.

    I know the whole notion is a modern thing. So what? Ivan Karamazov’s demands are a modern thing, but represent the existential pent up fucked uped what the hell is going on hereness of millenia of humanity. Without Ivan, there is no Alyosha. Any would-be Alyosha who doesn’t realize this is among the 99 sheep God leaves behind.

    Or so I fancy. What the hell do I know?

  2. Oh, Thou, who Man of baser Earth didst make,
    And who with Eden didst devise the Snake;
    For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
    Is blacken’d, Man’s Forgiveness give — and take!
    –Omar Khayy´m, The Rubáiyát

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