Love and Wonder
Understand, O dullest of people; fools, when will you be wise? The one who planted the ear also hears. The one who formed the eye also sees. The one who teaches knowledge to humankind also chastises. That same one knows our thoughts, which are but an empty breath. – Psalm 94:8-11 (NRSV, adapted)
This past weekend I watched Marvel Studios’ newest feature film, Thor: Love and Thunder. First and foremost, I’d like to register a complaint that Marvel movies too often make me cry. It’s embarrassing, especially when so many other aspects of this particular film were laughable.
Second, and more to the point, I appreciate the capacity of superhero movies to play creatively with real theological questions, and Thor: Love and Thunder plays with one of the best, most wrenching of theological questions: How do we make sense of a loving God when the world is overrun with agony and evil? What do we do when the gods disappoint us?
The answer that the psalmist brings to this question might not be very pastoral—“Wise up, you dull people!”—but I find it helpful all the same. Do we want to know why there is agony and terror? Perhaps we should watch, listen, and pay care-full attention, rather than believing ourselves wise just because our thoughts swirl rapidly like empty dust devils. Do we want to know what to do when God disappoints us? Perhaps we should reapply what we have learned, relearn wisdom where knowledge has escaped us, and repent where we have erred.
Do we want to understand holy love in the midst of evil? Perhaps we should practice wondering humbly, lest we be dulled to the world and listless to wisdom.
How desperately I want your attention, O God! And how unceasingly you demand mine.
Rachel Hackenberg serves on the national staff for the United Church of Christ. She is the author of Writing to God and the co-author of Denial Is My Spiritual Practice, among other titles. Her blog is Faith and Water.