The Drops Like Stars Tour Part Two – Screaming Alongside Us

October 23, 2009

art / spirituality

As I’ve said, Rob Bell is on the Drops Like Stars tour (see cities and dates), going around the country exploring the relationships between suffering and creativity. There is also a book. I want to continue looking at the event, as there are a number of different areas of life to which it speaks.

The last post looked at the stories of activism and art, engaging suffering in powerful ways. A good bit of the event was like this, and I cannot overemphasize how meaningful it was for me. So far it has stuck out more, possibly because I keep retelling it. But much of the rest of the evening was about what to do about our own suffering.

So yes. What to do about our own suffering. This deliberately goes away from the question of “Why?” – not because it is unimportant, but because there is no satisfying answer. Many of us want nothing to do with the hyper-Calvinist theology that is out there providing answers to this question that don’t line up with the nature of the God we’ve met in the Cross, and also want nothing to do with the hyper-faith theology that is out there telling us that we just don’t have enough faith to stop whatever suffering we see.

There are great alternatives to both of these extremes, from the work of Jürgen Moltmann to the work of Greg Boyd, and Rob recognized this, but the point of the event was different than those things.

When we suffer, then, at some point we want to know what to do. What to do after that phone call, or that sudden disturbance, or that thing that happens to us. We are given several answers, ranging from the new worlds that are created for us when our boxes are broken, to the beauty that artists find in their failures to the community that we share with others who suffer with us, to a culmination in the God who comes to earth and hangs on a cross, “screaming alongside us.”

There are powerful statements in these thoughts, and powerful paradoxes and images. Many of us have resonated with the agony expressed in the painting The Scream, and to think of God doing that alongside us is a deep thing that is hard for us to understand or accept, but immediately it hits me as true.

And that is the essence of what this response to suffering was for me. When things happen to us, there is a deep beauty that is present and available to us, not because these things become good events or because there will ever be a resolution to them, but because there is art in the mind of God, and art can always come out of darkness.