Copyright 1994 by J.E. Kronenfeld
In the church study the elderly priest sat at his desk whistling cheerfully to himself. When a firm knock sounded on his door, he was startled, as if awakened and called for the knocker to enter. A tall, younger monk entered.
"Father Laskey, May I speak to you a few minutes?"
"Certainly, Brother Alyosha. Why you would want to waste this wonderful day babbling with a an old man I don't know; but on a day like this, I appreciate the company "
The younger man appeared nervous.
"Sir, I hate to intrude, but I must ask you to release me from my vows and permit me to leave the monastery."
The older man, taken back by the request, retreated to a protective habit that had served him in good stead for many years. He sat back and stared at the young man. After several minutes, he finally responded.
"Why, Brother Alyosha? Do you feel that the Great Revelation just experienced renders our work no longer pertinent?"
"No, Sir, on the contrary! I think that in many ways our work is just beginning."
"Oh? I'm not sure that I follow you. After the events of the past several days, there can be no one left in the world who does not believe in God anymore."
"True, Sir. That's exactly the point. Previously, all our energies were directed toward convincing people of that one simple fact. Oh, we did make some token efforts at educating people concerning their behavior toward God and other men. However, these were all merely ancillary. We could make no progress at modifying people's actions as long as few believed in the underlying premise.
"No, God's revelation of Himself to the world these last several days merely removes the difficulty of the peoples' disbelief. The infinitely more difficult task of translating that newfound faith into positive action remains."
"Would that our future path were so obvious."
For a while the two men sat in thought. After a few minutes, the older man continued.
"Well, is it the basic revelation that you distrust? Do you think that it was faked, some kind of hoax?"
"Certainly not. Oh, I had my doubts, as I think most people did at the beginning. Some may have professed a belief in God. Many may have actually believed that God acted on our life in some subtle way. But I don't think that many actually believed that God would declare himself so openly.
"But he did. Most convincingly. The booming voice from the heavens was not in itself incontrovertible. Even though it was heard simultaneously by everybody in the world - each in his own language. What was more startling was the fact that it was daylight everywhere. Clear blue sky without a cloud anywhere. The voice emanating from the sun was impressive.
"Yet even then there were some that doubted the Voice when it declared that He was YAHWEH, Himself, Who was making Himself known once again so that the world might again believe in him as the Patriarchs of old. Despite the fear and wonder felt by most, some still refused to admit belief. Some even claimed that it was a trick being promulgated by some alien force."
The older man chuckled at the thought. "True, but the day of resurrection and the parting of the sea convinced even the most incredulous of the sophisticates."
"Yes," the younger man continued. "The resurrection for a day of everybody who had ever lived was the most sobering thing I had ever experienced. Not only were our heroes returned the world, but the villains were also brought back.
"It was strange you know, with Adolf Hitler and Attila wandering amidst their victims, no one either thought or dared to interfere with them. With all the historians who had decried the paucity of information about all of these men, none had the presence of mind to try to interview these past greats."
This remembrance reminded Father Laskey of how he had felt: "True. But it was very unnerving. Knowing that somewhere your parents were alive again and wandering around. I was afraid to raise my eyes and look at the people around me. What would I have done if I had accidently seen them? What does one say to ones dead father?
The younger priest nodded in agreement.
"True. The resurrection was not nearly the glorious time envisioned by some. It was an almost visible weight bearing down on the shoulders of all - the living and the dead. When, after 24 hours - a full day of bright sunlight everywhere, I might add - the dead returned to wherever they came from, everybody breathed a sigh of relief.
"Then God, almost as if he were playing his own straight man, parted the Atlantic Ocean to form a dry, smooth path from Europe to America. He even covered the Mid-Atlantic Trench. Having finished, He then invited all to use his pathway."
"All except the Egyptians, that is," chuckled Father Laskey.
"True," agreed Brother Alyosha with a fervor that brought Father Laskey up short: "But, My God, is that any way for God to behave?
"But you get my point. After all of that, it would be impossible not to believe that it really was God "
The elder man began to get a little impatient. His former feeling of well-being was being threatened, though hewasn't sure how.
"Well, then, what is the problem? Why do you want to quit."
Alyosha seemed almost at a loss for words. "I'm not sure how to describe it. As you know, I have always been very sincere and emphatic in my efforts to bring the message to the people. I really tried to help people see that the moral imperative of God's teaching should direct their lives.
"But, the problem, you see, is that I never really believed in God. Not in an anthropomorphic God sitting in the heavens, rewarding good and punishing evil. No, not in a God like that.
"Rather, if I believed in a God, it was in some embodiment of the natural evolution of the universe toward order and stability, toward good and away from evil. God existed for me as a force with being and not as a being with force."
Father Laskey observed: "And God turned out to be a more concrete God. Why is this a problem for you?"
Brother Alyosha thought a moment and then responded with a quiet intensity. "As long as I thought of God as a force, I could dismiss the evil in the world as an aberration in the otherwise steady march of the God-force toward universal order and peace. If an innocent child was cruelly killed or some young girl brutally raped, it was not an evil preventable by God and, hence, there was no need to reconcile God's goodness with His silence at the propagation of evil.
"I could mourn the pain and evil, but without having to challenge God to explain himself, as Job did.
"Such a blind force might be less personal than an anthropomorphic God. It might bother some people that in some sense we are adrift in the middle of an river, even if that river were flowing toward a safe harbor. But at least I could continue to believe in the underlying righteousness of the universe.
"However, if God is some supernatural being with a consciousness and a will, then the problem of the evil in the world remained. How can I accept a God who accepts the evils done in His name?"
After a moment, Brother Alyosha continued, "I cannot. Since I cannot accept such a God, I cannot council others to accept him.
"I must resign."
"No!" Father Laskey admonished. "God has revealed himself for a purpose. The necessity of our mission remains unchanged. Surely, God did not reveal himself so as to drive you out of the Church?"
Alyosha paused at the door, before he left. "Since God has revealed His ability to demonstrate His existence, He will reveal when his righteousness returns."