Jonah and the Night Journey

The story of Jonah and the Whale is complex. It leads us to ask: where is God in suffering? When Jonah is sitting in the pitch dark in his whale, with only the smell of decomposing fish for company, a long, long way from the light of the sun, he sang a psalm of both lament and praise. Is God somehow active in the dark night of the soul?

It's not straightforward. We want God to be linear, predictable. But life turns out not to be like that. There's only so far that our deductive logic can take us. A Christian realism will require a fairly large serving of irony, paradox, non-dualist thinking. Is the God, in whom there is "no darkness at all" (1 John 5), to whom "the darkness is the same as the light" absent in suffering? What are we, the followers of the one who cried out "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me" to think about suffering? Can God redeem even this?

Consider the story. Jonah hears the "word of the Lord". He decides to flee to Tarshish. There's a storm. He's thrown out of the ship into the sea, expecting to die. Instead, he is swallowed by a giant fish. And then, three days and three nights later, he is spat out on Nineveh beach. It's all of our stories when our neatly laid plans are thrown into disarray by what life suddenly life demands of us. You're driving along in your car, and suddenly, in the blink of an eye, absolutely everything in your life has changed. How do you live?

Read more in Alister's blog, or come along to the Union Club Hotel on the 21st of November at 6:45, or email info [at]">Alister.

Cafechurch: Deconstruct and Reconstruct your faith.

Here are the slides from the evening:

And here is the video that we showed, using Jonah and the Whale to illustrate / respond to Alister's CPE journey, sound track by Aradhna - "Atma" from their album Sapna