One could say that the tragedy, the “goat stories” of racism, slavery, sexism, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the two World Wars, all of which emerged in and were tolerated by Christian Europe, are a stunning manifestation of our disillusionment and disgust with ourselves and one another, when we could not make the world right and perfectly ordered, as we were told it should be. We could not love the imperfection within ourselves or the natural world, so how could we possibly build any bridges toward Jews, Muslims, people of color, women, sinners, or even other Christians? None of them fit into the “order” we had predecided on. We had to kill, force, imprison, torture, and enslave as we pursued our colonization of the rest of the world, along with the planet itself. We did not carry the cross, the tragic sense of life, but we became expert instead at imposing tragedies on others. Forgive my anger, but we must say it.
Philosophers and social engineers have promised us various utopias, with no room for error, but the Jewish Scriptures, which are full of anecdotes of destiny, failure, sin, and grace, offer no self-evident philosophical or theological conclusions that are always true. The Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, are an amalgam of at least four different sources and theologies (Yahwistic, Eloistic, Deuteronomy, and Priestly). We even have four, often conflicting versions of the life of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There is not one clear theology of God, Jesus, or history presented, despite our attempt to pretend there is. The only consistent pattern I can find is that all the books of the Bible seem to agree that somehow God is with us and we are not alone. God and Jesus’ only job description is one of constant renewal of bad deals.
From “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life” by Richard Rohr