"When we have made our faith into belief we expunge the creative and co-creative power of God. God has become entombed in our assertions and propositions. Our time in the Tomb allows for God’s Resurrection."
of the Cross, Tomb, and Resurrection*
Yesterday I wrote about what I called the “Theology of the Cross.” Theology of the Cross represents the prophetic voice, and the horrendous possibility associated with living the life of Jesus. At that moment we may feel the absence of shared humanity, to be killed by the humanity we sought to enrich, is to become Godforsaken. Today, we turn our attention to the Tomb.
Among the Four Gospels minor differences concerning Jesus’s Burial exist (you can read them here). One simple fact remains: Jesus died and Joseph of Arimathe’a buried him. What Jesus “did” between the time they rolled the stone in front of the tomb and the Resurrection has been the subject for much debate and tradition.
I’d like to think, though, that the Tomb symbolizes doubt and desperation. The externalities of existence, the work of the prophet and liberator leading to the Cross, are not the primary focus of the Tomb. Rather, the Tomb reflects the fullness of doubt and necessity of silence.
Like Jesus, those of us that find ourselves in the Tomb do not expect Resurrection. Whether momentary or long-lived, the Tomb is the fullness of isolation. Perhaps in the darkness, in the belly of the earth, we see ourselves differently.
From pulpits on high preachers have loudly proclaimed that doubt is the lack of faith. Doubt, however, does not stand against faith, but allows deep fertilization of faith to occur. Doubt sings and blooms in ways we have not noticed because we are too busy with certitude and truth. Doubt, like faith, does not concern itself with truth, but fostering the mystery. When we have made our faith into belief we expunge the creative and co-creative power of God. God has become entombed in our assertions and propositions.
Our time in the Tomb allows for God’s Resurrection.
In my mind, doubt and faith mirror the tension of silence and noise. In our present age, perhaps unlike any other before, we are inundated with noise. Silent places and moments scare us. Surprised we should not be, then, that people fear doubt—when the voices of certitude cannot be heard and cannot soothe.
The English word for “noise” comes from the Latin word “nausea,” which is, as one might expect, dealing with sickness.
In Latin this word refers specially to “be seasick.” Cast upon the waves, a sailor’s equilibrium is thrown off causing violent expulsions and cold sweats. More than an exploration into etymology, this helps us see that “noise” literally means to disturb to the point of sickness.
From blaring car alarms, buzzing air conditioners, political pundits, to even lights, noise abounds in our 21st century existence. Escaping the noise seems impossible. Slowly, but surely, “noise sickness” has settled upon humanity--as has "faith sickness."
Day-to-day listening occurs in the mind, but when one lives in the Tomb the power of the mind has been silenced. Silence requires a different listening. It is a listening that places the heart in the mind—silence beckons emotional response as well as critical engagement.
I’d like to think Dr. King experienced this when he decided that he had to step up and lead in Birmingham. He writes, “I sat in the midst of the deepest quiet I have ever felt, with two dozen others in the room. There comes a time in the atmosphere of leadership when a man surrounded by loyal friends and allies realizes he has come face to face with himself. I was alone in that crowded room.”
When we realize that we are alone, away from the silence (literally or figuratively) of so many different voices, we must face ourselves. With placated facades and digital imagery we create literal images that do not always match with the actual image. Lost in the noise are inaccurate stories we tell both about and to ourselves.
Silence makes us face those narratives. Behind no veil of humor, no concrete wall of criticism, and no logic of a theological argument can we hide—we must face ourselves, and listen to what we find.
While finding silence isn’t the cure-all to social ills, it would make a difference if those in power, those that castigate others, would embrace the silence that has become so illusive. Saving silence is social justice, as it is there, alone, we are called to face our histories, our futures, and ourselves.
I’m not sure what happened in the Tomb. Maybe Jesus faced silence and himself. Maybe Jesus reckoned with the desperate cry on the Cross. To be abandoned, to be filled with doubt, and face our history—this is the Tomb.