Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Wisdom of Petru Dumitriu

I started reading Petru Dimitriu's To the Unknown God close to two years ago, but I set it aside to take up course readings. I have yet to pick it up again. What I read, however, was extraordinarily thought provoking, and I know I have referenced his thinking here before. Dumitriu was a Romanian thinker who witnessed the atrocities of communism behind the Iron Curtain first hand and fled to tell the tale. He had a remarkable life which showed through in his remarkable corpus of writings. In Uknown God, he struggles with the problem of evil, not from the position of constructing a theodicy but from the outpouring of deep personal anguish. Here are some quotes which struck me at the time and which I recorded from the portion I read:

Finally, to reduce all these questions to one: how can one love God when he obviously does not exist? And -- putting the same question in a different way -- how can one love human beings, when they are as they are, and when there is no God?

Ever since I reached the age of reason I have been holding a conversation with an unknown and perhaps nonexistent interlocutor. If there is no one listening to me, no one answering me, and if at the other end of this inexhaustible one-way communication there is not one living soul, then I have been cheated, and it has bee the biggest cheat in a life that has known plenty of them: a cheat that is the crowning proof of the nothingness, of the non-value, of the absolute destitution of my existence. The question must be propounded as implacably as possible. No pity for God: it is for him to have pity on us.

Except that spilt blood is never impure, and the hands that spill the blood are never pure.

After assassination and sadistic crime, what I detest most in this world is rape, that rape which is always the violation of someone's will. Women are not its only victims: for one sexual rape, there are a hundred non-sexual ones.

All those who hang themselves in the cells are Jesus Christ on the cross. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken us? But to our cry of distress he could reply: why have you forsaken each other? I granted you forgetfulness of suffering and forgetfulness of offences: why do you use this gift to forget your sins? Is it just so that you need not repent, that you need not learn from your experiences, and ever repeat them?

Then who are we to judge God? I am saying that we must take upon ourselves a part of Evil, but I am not attempting to justify God. Evil is more mysterious, more vast. It is our work; but we are not our own work.

Unlike politics, religion has freed itself from human sacrifices.

Nevertheless, I see what I see, and that is that the universe of living things is permeated with suffering, and that even the spectacle of that suffering is suffering. I cannot carry on my conversation with God and ignore the constituent suffering of life.

For nothing is simple, and the universe is mathematicable, but incomprehensible -- really incomprehensible, and really constructed according to a plan that is not a human one.

No comments:

Post a Comment