...but I am going to do it anyway. I am going to touch the third rail of polite discussion. Right here, right now. I am going to talk about religion. Or, rather, theology. I am going to try, very hard, to not flame, but discuss. And I am going to ask you, very politely, to please help me out. Preferably also without flaming.
See, I keep running into this one particular view of G-d's involvement in people's lives that is so foreign to me as to make me say, quite honestly, that I just do not get how one can live in the world we all live in and hold this view. And so I hope that maybe someone can explain it to me.
Here is the piece that prompted this particular round of head shaking. I was looking for a quick explanation of the Jewish custom of saying "B'sha'ah tovah," or "may it happen for you in good time" upon hearing of someone's pregnancy. This is the words I myself use because I feel that this avoids the presumption inherent in any form of congratulations. Congratulations, I feel are for when the baby is born alive. For the duration there is only the wishes for that outcome.
So I start reading this woman's story of how she came to appreciate the wisdom of b'sha'ah tovah, but I do not get very far before I trip and fall, and faceplant right into concrete. "Why is G-d doing this to me as I'm trying to bring a Jewish child into the world?" she asks about her difficult pregnancy, and I am starting to see red. Wait, I want to ask, so you think if you were trying to bring some heathen life into the world, it would be totally cool of G-d to do this to you?
But the part that is really bugging me, predictably, is the one about G-d doing this to her. Things get even more dicey, by which I mean completely incomprehensible to me, when, after relating the story of the pregnancy riddled with a number of problems, the author declares all of them to have been no more than a means to an end-- G-d's clever and miraculous way of assuring that her baby was monitored, and thus, saved just in a nick of time by an emergency c-section. The real problem, you see, was the unbeknown to anyone clotting disorder she had. Clotting disorder that would've killed the baby in only a few more hours. And, according to the author, all the other complications she experienced in the pregnancy were nothing but G-d's way of saving the baby.
Like I said, I don't get this at all. First, if G-d was getting involved, this seems like a bass ackwards way of doing it. Presumably, G-d could just fix the problem, or, you know, cause someone to run a clotting panel such that the actual problem was recognized before or early on in pregnancy, and the baby gestated uneventfully to full term and with no need for the somewhat traumatic early birth and NICU stay.
Second, and this is where I get really stuck, this sure looks like a lot of care to expand on this one baby and family. And it seems to me that if one is to accept that the supreme being did expand this much care to this particular baby, one would have to also note that an appreciable number of babies, Jewish and otherwise, were not granted the same level of care. And then one would have to ask what makes them less worthy? What makes their parents less worthy?
I never asked "why?" or "why us?" after A's death. Because to me it seemed like "why not us?" was an equally reasonable question. Bad things happen in the world, in every generation. Catastrophes for countries, peoples, and families. Holocaust was not that long ago. The concept of a G-d who decided to bring that down on each individual person who perished, everyone who was maimed or displaced, everyone who survived only to bear the scars, mental and physical, for the rest of their lives, that concept is not sitting well with me. Never had. On the flip side, ever since Monkey was born, I have maintained that there is no way to deserve to have a child, that nothing we could do would be enough to earn that happiness.
And so I never pray for tangible things, or for events I am hoping for-- I consider that futile. I only ever ask for peace and strength (and maybe wisdom, but that's borderline). I find myself firmly in the camp of "the age of miracles is long past" theology. But, more importantly for what I am talking about here, I find myself unable to understand people who claim personal attention/intervention from on high. Because to me that thought can not exist without a thought for what if? Or for the families where what if actually happened.
I can't understand how the author of this piece wouldn't see that by claiming divine intervention for her child, she is simultaneously saying that others weren't deemed worthy of it. Yes, I am saying that I do not understand how it is possible to not extend (or invert, whatever the case may be) one's thoughts on the matter. And once this thought is considered, the thought that for someone else the baby didn't make it, and there was no miraculous long-term plan in place to avoid that tragedy, well, once that's in one's head, I can't see how one would avoid asking what makes them so freaking special? And maybe I am wrong, but for myself I just wouldn't have an answer. Nothing about me is so exceptional that I can see getting a break of this magnitude, or any magnitude for that matter, while someone else did not.
I also feel, and this is perhaps a little tangential to this discussion, that her insistence on the divine source of her son being alive cheapens the professionalism and care exhibited by her doctors. If they were nothing but G-d's instrument, than it could've been any doctor there, any warm body with a medical degree. To me it is so much more inspiring to think that these were professionals who cared and did their job. And saved her baby's life, and her, from ever knowing things I know.
And yet, I know that hers is theology espoused often and by many. If you share it, or understand it, please explain it to me. Particularly, what I want to know is how is it possible to be a thinking person living in the world we live in and have this theology. I really want to understand. I feel like I must be missing something, some major clue, but I don't know what it is, or where to look for it.
I promise I won't bite, but if you feel more comfortable commenting anonymously, go right ahead.