Your God Is Too Big

Last week Tony Jones asked for progressive Christian bloggers to write a post about God.

As I read his post I thought of this post I wrote about a year ago:

As a college professor interested in the psychology of religion I'm sort of an anthropologist of young adulthood spirituality. That is, I listen a great deal to how my students talk about faith, God, Christianity, and church. I'm particularly interested in listening to what moves them spiritually.

One of the things I've noticed in this regard--something, to be sure, not unique to this age group or generation--is the prominence of a focus on God's bigness. Worship that seems to move my college students, and many other Christians, tends to focus on God's transcendence and awesomeness. "Awesome" just might be the most common word my students, and many other Christians, use to describe God.

This focus on God's bigness is often used in worship to create an acute sense of our smallness in relation. Ecstatic worship is often triggered by a felt sense of God's transcendent power, size, and greatness. I leave such worship psychologically stunned and overwhelmed by God's bigness. My sense is that a lot of contemporary worship is explicitly aimed at trying to create this experience. And that makes sense. Worship means "to bow down." Thus, it seems straightforward to many that worshiping God means to "bow down" before God's power and size.

And yet, I wonder about all this. Particularly from a missional perspective. Specifically, I struggle with how the felt sense of smallness I experience in worship is supposed to transition into Christian mission. I do see how an acute sense of our smallness works as a trigger for ecstatic worship, but find it hard to see how that sense of smallness helps Christians learn to eat with tax collectors and sinners.

Put bluntly, I'm wondering this: How does an experience of God's awesomeness help you learn that God is love?

In light of this, here's what I want to say to many Christians: Your God is too big.

Here's what I think. I think too much focus on God's awesomeness leaves us ill-equipped to see God's smallness in the world. Perhaps we'd be better able to transition from worship to mission if we started focusing on God's smallness rather than on God's bigness. Isn't it one of the purposes of worship to help us see aright? To see God more clearly? If so, perhaps we need to start worshiping God's smallness. Our God has gotten too big.

Let me try to illustrate what I'm talking about.

See the smallness of God in this famous section of Night, Elie Wiesel's memoir of the Holocaust:

I witnessed other hangings. I never saw a single one of the victims weep. For a long time those dried-up bodies had forgotten the bitter taste of tears.

Except once. The Oberkapo of the fifty-second cable unit was a Dutchman, a giant, well over six feet. Seven hundred prisoners worked under his orders, and they all loved him like a brother. No one had ever received a blow at his hands, nor an insult from his lips.

He had a young boy under him, a pipel, as they were called--a child with a refined and beautiful face, unheard of in this camp...the face of a sad angel...

One day, the electric power station at Buna was blown up. The Gestapo, summoned to the spot, suspected sabotage. They found a trail. It eventually led to the Dutch Oberkapo. And there, after a search, they found an important stock of arms.

The Oberkapo was arrested immediately. He was tortured for a period of weeks, but in vain. He would not give up a single name. He was transferred to Auschwitz. We never heard of him again.

But his little servant had been left behind in the camp in prison. Also put to torture, he too would not speak. Then the SS sentenced him to death, with two other prisoners who had been discovered with arms.

One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call. SS all around, machine guns trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains--and one of them, the little servant, the sad-eyed angel.

The SS seemed more preoccupied, more disturbed than usual. To hang a young boy in front of thousands of spectators was no light matter. The head of the camp read the verdict. All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips. The gallows threw its shadow over him.

This time the Lagerkapo refused to act as executioner. Three SS replaced him.

The three victims mounted together onto the stairs.

The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses.

"Long live liberty!" cried the two adults.

But the child was silent.

"Where is God? Where is He?" someone behind me asked.

At a sign from the head of the camp, the three chairs tipped over.

Total silence throughout the camp. On the horizon, the sun was setting.

"Bare your heads!" yelled the head of the camp. His voice was raucous. We were weeping.

"Cover your heads!"

The march past began. The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged. But the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive...

For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed.

Behind me, I heard the same man asking:

"Where is God now?"

And I heard a voice within me answer him:

"Where is He? He is--He is hanging here on this gallows..."
This is a powerful story, with particular resonances for Christians, a people who worship a God who hangs dead on the gallows. And I wonder, when I read stories like Wiesel's, if contemporary Christian spirituality, a spirituality so focused on God's bigness, is able to train us to see God in the figure of that little boy.

How can we learn to see God's smallness?

Perhaps no one described God's smallness better than Dietrich Bonhoeffer did in one of his letters from prison:
God lets himself be pushed out of the world onto the cross. He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us and helps us. Matt. 8:17 makes it quite clear that Christ helps us, not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering.
It is true that God is awesome. But, as Bonhoeffer observed, "God lets himself be pushed out of the world and onto the cross." God "is weak and powerless in the world." God helps us "not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering."

God is small.

God is that little boy hanging from the gallows.

God isn't powerful and mighty.

God is weakness and powerlessness.

So this, again, is what I'm wondering. Might a spirituality of God's bigness and awesomeness be hindering our ability to see the smallness and weakness of God? Is not the triumphalism associated with worshiping God's bigness hindering our ability to see God as the child hanging on the gallows? Hindering our ability to see God in the body of the demented mental patient. In the craving addict. In the senile old person in diapers. In the starving child. In the drooling retarded. In the street walking prostitute. In the homeless man on the park bench. In the queer kid being bullied on the playground.

Might our God be too big? Too big for us to see the smallness of God?

Where is God?

God is here--weak and hanging on the gallows.

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33 thoughts on “Your God Is Too Big”

  1. The small, weak God (i.e., Christ on the cross) to the Batman (anti)superhero myth is clearly contrasted.  Exactly the root of my discontent with the implicit theological POV put forth in your previous post.

    The problem with identifying so strongly with a big, powerful, omnipotent God is that those will be the attributes we try to imitate.  No?

    All perceived weakness will be seen as "sinful" or unholy, to be eradicated, overcome, or hidden.  The prosperity gospel draws from this line of thinking, I believe.

    I hear echoes of Gary Smith in the position taken in this post.  Matthew 25:31-46 comes to mind as well, of course.  Perhaps the judgment is that in the here and now, a real, abundant, rich spiritual life which abides in Christ, and he in us, can never be experienced unless and until we get low...  It isn't in the frenzied worship services, or in our victories and perceived power that we find Christ.  He is found with the "poor."

    By the way, lately I have been thinking a lot about the book Falling Upward by Richard Rohr.  Have you read it?  My daily meditations from the CAC (Center for Action and Contemplation / Richard Rohr) have dealt with the thesis of Falling Upward for the past few days.  I see many similarities between Richard Rohr's way of explaining maturation of faith and spirituality and your Slavery to the Fear of Death series.

    The word "awesome" certainly is overused, isn't it.  As such, and in an inappropriate context, it conveys a flippancy toward the topic and the intended audience.  :-)  ~Peace~

  2. Excellent points, Richard and Susan. It brings the question to my mind: If we are being distracted from seeing the smallness of God in others, are we also being distracted from seeing His smallness within ourselves? For me, all the preaching of the big and awesome God serves to make me feel more alienated from Him and His presence in my life. As Susan pointed out, this only makes me feel more sinful and unworthy when I am struggling with my faith and its defining aspects in my life.

    If we can"t see the small and weak God within ourselves, small wonder that we would have difficulty seeing Him in the pain and suffering around us.

  3.  I agree with Susan, that "bigness" of God can make one feel that this is the image we need to imitate (which can manifest itself in sort of ugly ways) and that our weakness is unacceptable to God. Much of my adult life has been spent trying to deal with, and make sense of this view.  Part of this struggle did lead to my recent conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy. I do feel that the Orthodox get some things right on this point.  Many of the prayers, and much of the liturgy is spent asking God to have mercy (which, to my mind, is sometimes the only thing I can really say) and reminding ourselves through prayer that God is good, and loves mankind.  While there is an element of feeling the bigness of God; there is also this element that God has made Himself small, through the icons of Jesus and others; as well as through the Eucharist.  One cool thing about it is that in Orthodoxy there is the belief that Christ is actually present, somehow, in the Eucharist. (The Orthodox  just understand it as a mystery and don't go to any great pains to explain how that is.) So we have the dichotomy of coming before the throne of God, surrounded by thousands of angels and archangels, and being connected, spiritually and physically, with Christ, who makes Himself small, through the bread and wine.  I feel small before God; but I don't feel that he is ready to crush me in my weakness and doubt.  

  4. And how could it be any other way. Violence will always beget more violence and make the evil stronger. For every baddie that the white hatted hero outguns, 3 more will rise up to take their place. If Jesus were to come back, guns blazing, robe dripping with the blood of his enemies, would his enemies not just continue to rise up, wave after wave? But yet the blood on his robe is his own, not that of his enemies.

    The little boy on the gallows in Wiesel's story has haunted me since I as a boy myself. Probably 30+ years ago when I first read it. I think I am only now beginning to understand this story as being about the weakness of God rather than about the death of God.

  5. Huzzah.  All of the triumphalist visions of a huge, awesome, victorious God that permeate our public pronouncements seem to have little missional value, at least the way we use them...they ring hollow to the vexed pagan who looks around at a world such as this and says, "Victorious?  How?  and When?"

    More appropriate, I think, is the hymnody of the 19th century cotton patch, bulging with bittersweet hope but infinitely more realistic about the present.

    qb

  6. Have you ever read Gerhard Forde's book On Being a Theologian of the Cross? That is a great exposition of the contrast Luther drew between the "big, strong God" of the theology of glory and the "small, weak God" of the theology of the cross.

  7. I've not read that book. Thanks so much for the link. I've always heard that Luther had a robust theologia crucis but I've not yet made a study of it.

  8. I think about this when I see or hear the oft repeated spiritualized saying of  "It's not about you." Meant, of course, to deflect focus from one's own personal situation to a Big God perspective on whatever is being discussed: "It's about God.". Or to see the situation of others as worse or more significant, a perspective often deployed by those seeking to diminish another's pain as unworthy of note. Sort of like the "starving children in China/Ethiopia/pick-your-3rd-world-country" for chastizing children with a remote argument at the dinner table.

    The question it raises for me, when I hear the "It's not about you" thing is this: then for whom did Christ put on humanity? For whom did He die? Why did He bother? It's not a matter of disregarding others, but including all. It's about ALL of us. Or each of us. The flip camp tries to emphasize "God has a wonderful plan for/cares about every detail of your life." I'd like to see a verbal chess match between the two sides. Of course some see no difficulty reconciling the opposite views, and find some spiritualized ethereal way of doing so.

    At the band hall this morning, the moms were swapping stories of what we've seen of bad parenting in public. One told of a child in a store being told he's "bad" and "will never have any friends" by the woman he was with. Qustion: will that child be raised being told "It's not about you."? My bet: Probably. Both at home and at church.

  9. God's "smallness" is, of course, exemplified in Jesus' coming in to the world to bring the new covenant.

  10. Oh, thank you for this. This smallness of God - I think it can be found in the second-half of life that Richard Rohr speaks of in his book, Falling Upward. I was reading in it this morning. True elders who are second-half-of-life-people, are in the position to see, speak and live this kind of wisdom. This kind of "eldership" does not happen automatically by virtue of either age or suffering, but both seem to be a significant part of propelling a person into that time of life where the "awesomeness" of God can be held alongside the "smallness" of God. The paradox of God. And indeed, of ourselves.

    I see exactly what you speak of in our church. This big and awesome God! It's not just in contemporary worship services, either. It starts very, very young -  in preschool VBS. And God just keeps getting bigger and better. A few weeks ago I found myself wondering what would happen to those little kids whose lives bumped into unusual suffering along the way or who didn't manage to be wildly "successful" when they grew up. Would God (as advertised) be able to get close to them, in their little worlds? Or would they just not bother to bother with Him anymore, since He's too big to fit.

    I ask this, of course, because I wonder it for myself. Where is God? And where has he been? In the unwanted twists and turns and mistakes and failings and disappointments of MY life. I am discovering that he WAS there. He IS here. And it is in his smallness that he is so much bigger than I'd ever imagined. I just  wish we could be a little more honest with these kids. I'm not sure what that looks like in preschool VBS. But for college students we surely should be looking for a more nuanced approach. More authenticity. More truth. More pain. More LIFE.

    I just now scrolled down to see what else others were saying, and I see that Richard Rohr has already been mentioned! Falling Upward is excellent, and as Susan mentioned, his daily email meditations are being taken from it this week. Previous meditations of his were about violence. I wonder sometimes if you talk to each other! Or perhaps it's this movement toward authentic spirituality that is reflected in your lives and your writings that is so life-giving. Thank you.

  11. BTW, Richard, this set of ideas would appear to overlap substantially with earlier discussions of "summer" vs. "winter" Christians.  And I'm persuaded that "summer" Christians, indispensable as they may be to the body of Christ, are likely to be disproportionately responsible the for "big God" pronouncements...whatever the implications might be.

  12. I took a class a few years ago from a Lutheran college on Liberation Theology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberation_theology); very similar to the point you make.  Theology where the focus was not on Jesus who is God, but Jesus who is the Son of Man and how that translates to a focus not on the rich, famous, and powerful, but on the poor, suffering, out-cast and down-trodden; and our social obligation to the latter.  The origin of Liberation Theology is Catholic in nature, but it offers challenges all Christians can learn from it.
    I'd almost argue that contemporary worship isn't about God's bigness, but a selfish desire to be lost in something and have an artificial feeling of 'selflessness'.  And along similar lines, I've seen people throw themselves into missionary work, to fulfill a even greater need for that artificial feeling of 'selflessness' -- many times coming back with a smug "I-sacrificed-more-than-you" look, that I find it amusing, but I digress...

  13.  Well said, Amy.  I was going to write a reply, but you took the words out of my mouth :)

    Dana

  14. I'm not trying to ruin the point you made in this post that you wrote a year ago but I've wondered a lot about that story from Night by Wiesel which I've seen quoted in very many Christian books and blogs, as well as reading the book myself.  Throughout the autobiographical story, the boy is losing his faith because of the horrendous atrocities of Nazi Germany  and as I read that story of the young boy, slowly dying on the makeshift gallows I can't help but think that maybe the boy dying was symbolism for Wiesel's faith slowly and painfully dying within him as he watched this boy die while the religion of his father made no attempt to spare him the pain.  What do you think?

  15. I do think that is one way to read it, particularly from Wiesel's perspective, that God dies with that boy. But reading the story as a Christian--worshiping a God who hangs forsaken, dead and cursed on a tree--I think that's right. God dies with that boy.

  16. "Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me." "Have this mind in you which also was in Christ...though he was on an equality with God, he did not consider it a thing to be grasped! but being found as a human being, he humbled himself.......". And when I think that God his son not sparing....I scarce can take it in." Celebration and triumph in the God of victory must never obscure or deny the incarnation, the cross, the Suffering Servant. We live with death in the midst of hope. In this life we celebrate through our tears...we never relinquish the resurrection, but sin and sufdering and inexplicable evil isreal. God's is as small and as smashed as he needs to be to reach a sinful wretch like me....not to mention all the restall the rest. And thus I celebrate with a certain circumspection. Denial is not an option.

  17. Whist, the bigness of God encourages one to belief in Him, it was coming to the understanding that God is Love. He cares, thinks, and would have me as a friend was enough to convert me to Christianity.

    In respect to Bonhoeffer observation - I conclude that at no time did God become weak and powerless.

    I do not consider the humiliation of Christ as a change or erring of Power but rather,
    It was a manifestation (1Pet 1:18-20), an accomplishment (John 19:28) and a finish (John 19:30) as it pertains to the work of God towards His creation.

    We are hinted that the spiritual origin of the cross and the passion of Christ was Before the foundation of the world.
    (Rev 13:8, Eph 1:4, 1 Pet 1:4,20, 2 Tim 1:19). This means that God allowed it for a wise and worthy purpose, which is the New Creation. Hence, God did not allow Himself to be pushed out of the world and onto the cross.

    If we take into consideration that man is incomplete and as a Creation, he can only find his fulfillment, his completion and his perfection in The Man, the Archetype, Jesus Christ. Then the humiliation becomes a necessity out of the great purpose of God to complete man.

  18. "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite." -Isaiah 57:15 High/low=Big/small?

  19. Your essay is extremely thought provoking, as is Tony Jones original question. One could respond from so many perspectives. Hopefully, we all are attempting to express in a few words our own life-long pursuit to know God. And, hopefully, we recognize that it has all been said before and, hopefully, we recognize the very best sources for such knowledge. I am interested, Richard, in the way you describe yourself and your motivation for this contribution: "As a college professor interested in the psychology of religion I'm sort of an anthropologist of young adulthood spirituality." So, in this light I find your emphasis on the worship service of today (and its contribution to one's understanding of (personal) mission quite important. I would like to see you have success in this direction. [This is my first introduction to your blog.] Let me now please contribute these thoughts. Shouldn't we as emotional and intellectual adults contemplate the DEPTH of God rather than the BIGNESS of God? And should we not reach a mature stage of taking for granted the paradoxes inherent in human understanding of God? For example: "... and after the fire a still small voice"? To further illustrate my point: I remember a child's song from church that begins, "My God is so BIG, so strong and so mighty". A child understands that! But an elderly adult would find a meaningful worship experience in singing (contemplating) the words of "O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus", or "The Love of God". Come to think of it, both those hymns focus on God's attribute of love. And, maybe, there lies the rub. As you yourself wondered, "Put bluntly, I'm wondering this: How does an experience of God's awesomeness help you learn that God is love?" As a psychological thinker, do you think that today's young adults (as a whole) are not reaching the maturity level to understand deep and committed love - let alone experience it. And some of today's shallow (BIGNESS) worship is a reflection of that, or maybe a reflection of the need that lies therein.

  20. You've captured the willing smallness of God in the incarnation wonderfully. It is hard to hold the balance - but we worship an awesome, huge God who is willing to become small.

  21. I love the blog and your writing style. You are onto something when you compare God's smallness and immanence with his bigness and transcendence. In fact I think he is possibly not going far enough...

    Yes, God is the transcendent Maker of all things, the God of wonders. He is also the God who confined himself to human form and suffered alongside us. He is also the Holy Spirit that indwells His children, breathing resurrection life into our brokenness and resuscitating us as we are daily reconciled to Him. He is the Triune God... and both the transcendent and immanent attributes are part of His character. In fact, the immanent attributes (he came, felt, loved, suffered, died, rose, indwelt...etc.) magnify the transcendent attributes (He is holy, just, immutable, gracious, omnipotent...etc.) and vice-versa. One person of God exalts the others (I love Tim Keller's description of this in 'King's Cross' where he describes 'the dance of the trinity'). If we ignore one area of God, his nature and truth, we aren't, in effect, worshiping at all, whether music is involved or not, because inherent in the nature of worship is the pursuit of truth and our coming into contact with it and letting it change us ("they will know the truth and it will make them free" ... "One day the true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth").

    In other words, I agree that focusing on God's smallness is a beautiful thing. Cross-centered worship. The God who is present there on the gallows. It's necessary. It pulls us into intimacy with God, and ignites our hearts for His mission. But isn't it a false dichotomy to say that we need to focus on that solitary aspect of God to the neglect of His grand and transcendent attributes as if they are somehow opposed when, in fact, they compliment one another, and amaze our hearts all the more?

    For instance, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is all the more meaningful because it satisfied the righteous wrath of God against sin. So God's Holiness and Justice meet His Grace and Mercy at the cross. His smallness shines a light on His bigness and vice-versa. Grace becomes all the more amazing because of it. So we need to see all of God that He allows us to see through worship... even worship music. The greatness of His power as well as the greatness of His love and and mercy on the cross.

    So can someone see God as too big? Maybe... Maybe they can even see Him as too small (without viewing his transcendent character traits and deity, doesn't he look almost weak and anemic on the cross? Isn't he just then suffering pointlessly as a sort of example to follow, but not as a savior who's throne, as Calvin said, was the cross?) I think it's impossible to see Him as too small or too big, though, once you begin understand His nature... because the further you venture into His bigness, the more you see His smallness and the more amazing it becomes (in the same way that the further you venture into one person of the Trinity, the more you begin see the others there).

  22. Fantastic! I've long felt disenchanted with language that emphasizes only how 'great' God is and refuses to engage with the implications of a God who can die. Have you ever heard of/read John Caputo's 'The Weakness of God?' It's a pretty serious work of postmodern theology, and adds a lot to this discussion. Caputo argues for God to be understood as a 'weak force.' I think you'd find it a rich conversation partner.

  23. Awesome post Richard! In the name of glorifying God we have at times refused to believe the God revealed in Jesus; the "God with us", the humble every man. Thanks for this post. Excellent :)

  24. Why is it that God has to be one or the other? The thing I love about how big God is is that it allows him to be small, because he can be small for everyone at once in whatever way they need him to be. But then I'm a youngish adult, so maybe that's why it appeals to me. And I don't read 'big' to mean awesome, or mighty, or all powerful, just big, able to reach everything and break every mold. I agree that a focus on what God's smallness looks like is an important point my generation will need to get to eventually, but I also think that ideas like faith is an exclusively individual thing, corporate worship is something one 'shops' for, and that we as a Christian people get to decide who 'our' God has room in his heart to be love for are too prevelent right now for anyone to say that God is too big. He has to be big. He also has to be small for all the reasons you listed. But that's what makes God so 'awesome'. He can be both.

  25. If you don’t understand God’s
    sovereignty then His grace and love look small and temporary.  God’s sovereignty reveals to us how amazing
    it is that God chooses to intimately invest in our lives, and it’s what makes
    His love eternal and authoritative, giving us the confidence of grace. 


     


    Understanding God’s
    sovereignty and how His sovereignty flows from His omnipresence, omniscience,
    and omnipotence, reveals to us that surely He is the great I AM and the one
    true God who created all things.  This
    allows us to understand that we are called to obey.  And understanding that you are called to obey
    makes us understand that we’re called to love God, love others, and make
    disciples.  By loving God, loving others,
    and making disciples we honor God with our lives.


     


     


    “Put bluntly, I'm wondering this:
    How does an experience of God's awesomeness help you learn
    that God is love?”


     


    Understanding God’s
    awesomeness is understanding God is a being of free will.  And in that free will, God freely chooses to
    love us to the point of death. 
    Understanding God is big is exactly the point.  Because understanding that He freely chooses
    to be intimately invested in the smallness of our mundane day to day life,
    inspires love within me which leads me to submit and surrender to Him.


     


     


    “In light of this, here's what I
    want to say to many Christians: Your God is too big.”


     


    I see where you’re trying to
    go with this, but the fact is the problem is the opposite.  God has become too common to the western
    church.  If He was big and real to us than
    we would live in reverent fear of Him and our lives would look very differently.  We would actually obey what the Word tells
    us.  The reason we don’t obey is that we
    believe that in our eyes our will supersedes that of God’s. 


     


    Yes we need to open our eyes
    to the poor, sick, homeless, those struggling with homosexuality, widows, and everyone without Christ Jesus.  And yes we need to understand that in our
    culture what we deem significant is insignificant to God and vice versa.  But, without earnest love for Jesus Christ
    through the works of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds, our works are
    hollow.  And so, understanding how
    awesome our God is and how amazing His freely given love to us is, inspires
    [transforms] us to a life of daily worship.

    There's a reason why God introduces His Word to us with the book of Genesis.  Believing God is creator of all things and sustains all things through the Holy Spirit is the beginning of the gospel.  This helps me trust that His good and perfect will for me supersedes my flawed and broken will.

  26. Have you read any of Wiesel's further writings or his actual autobiographies?  (Night, is still classified as fiction since it's a recasting of events, but it is autobiographical)  Wiesel still has his faith in God.  It is very different than the faith he had as a child and early teen (which was very strong and he was into Kabbalism), but he lives in the intersections of hope and doubt, but still believing in hope.  He talks about in his autobiographies about how other Holocaust writers did lose faith, but that he didn't - kind of despite everything.  One of his most telling writings is the play "Trial of God" - that book still haunts me, almost more than Night in some respects.  It is more of a Jewish perspective to see God as able to weep with us.  

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