Spirituality, fruit of walking, by Angelo Cannata

19 Spirituality and existential betrayal

Betrayal as hermeneutics

What I already said in the post Spirituality and evil deserves a closer examination in relation to the problem of theodicy, here considered as a betrayal by God.

It should be noted, first, that this problem is caused by conceiving God as a person: being a person, in fact, implicitly requires the ability to be “respons-ible”, i.e. able to give a response; but facing evil God does not give any answer, he proves “un-respons-ive”, that is, unable to respond. People having behind a prolonged experience of faith in God, when it comes to discover this fundamental problem, cannot avoid a feeling of betrayal. It is pertinent to note that the betrayal is an experience that can only come from people or other beings which we treated as people. At this point we can react very simply refusing to believe in God, a position that can oscillate between atheism and agnosticism.

The lessons received from the experience of the betrayal of God also brings with it another gain in terms of awareness. In the experience of faith in a God we appreciate, among other things, its function to sway the faithful from the danger of assuming another as God. For example, worshipping God can sway from assuming money as God. In this sense, worshipping God has the function of protecting the faithful from idolatry, which can also imply the mistake of treating as persons beings which are not.

The experience of betrayal in theodicy leads this lesson a step further: if God protected us from idolatry, after his betrayal we need something to protect us from him; in other words, every worship is in itself idolatry, since we do not experience Gods that reveal themselves “respons-ible” in front of evil. Whatever we take as a protection from all idolatry, it will bring with it the temptation to be taken in turn, more or less consciously, as a substitute God; for this reason it is essential to include in any activity a continuous work of self-criticism. The spirituality that we intend to pursue here requires to be cultivated with these requirements, otherwise we will fall into the temptation to love it and treat it as a person. It must be clear that spirituality is not a person and cannot be loved as such.

There’s still more. If the problem of theodicy undermines God as a person, the existence of evil, as I said, undermines the same way any understanding of the world; the experience of evil is able to strike so deeply our human being as to make impossible any understanding or explanation of the world and of what is in it. Therefore, the experience of being betrayed is not limited to what we had thought to treat as a person, but extends to anything we try to understand. So, what creates the problem of theodicy and, more generally, the problem of feeling betrayed, is not so much or only treating something as a person, but just the mere attempt to understand. Trying to understand means in itself creating conditions to experience betrayal.

In this context of ideas, spirituality stands as an attempt to remedy because its essence, its activity is not to understand but to experience; it does not exclude an activity of understanding, but we need to be careful, remembering the need for self-criticism and for thinking of everything as becoming.

In this context of ideas, even the incomprehensibility of our ego can be understood within the horizon of betrayal that we said.

Finally, we might see in Judah, who kisses and at the same time betrays the Son of Man, a symbol of both world and spirituality, which are able to charm and at the same time to betray, kiss and at the same time kill. Maybe it has something to do with this the fact that Jesus speaks about himself as “Son of Man” just when he turns to Judas kissing him, Luke 22:48. We are all some kissed Jesus, all betrayed by the universe-Judah.

Betrayal

 

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This post was published on 30 May 2016
Last update: 30 May 2016.