Beauty and the Cross (Part 1 of 3)

I don’t think you trust

In my self-righteous suicide

–      System of a Down, “Chop Suey!”

Recently, I read Joe Hill’s best selling novel, Horns. I don’t necessarily recommend it (it’s one of those book that depends on the reader, however his comic Locke and Key is absa-freakin-lutely amazing), but the reading merits of the book are not really the point of this post. In the story, Ig wakes up one morning, looks in the mirror and sees devil horns in his reflection, and over the coming days, he becomes more and more devilish. Using his newfound powers, he seeks revenge for the murder of his childhood sweetheart and longtime girlfriend. One night, presiding over his congregation of serpents, Ig delivers a sermon on the hypocrisy of God. In it, he proclaims,


“Jesus on his cross, so many have wept for Jesus on his cross, as if no one else has ever suffered as he suffered. As if millions have not shuffled to worst deaths and died unremembered. If I had lived in the days of Pilot it would have pleased me to twist the spear myself, so proud of his own pain…I do not claim that God is dead. I tell you He is alive and well but in no position to offer salvation, being damned Himself for His criminal indifference. He was lost the moment He demanded fealty and worship before He would offer His protection. The unmistakable bargain of a gangster.” (pages 217-218)


Most of us would never say something like that.

Out loud, that is.

But apply enough pressure, given enough suffering, experience enough evil and Satan’s challenge to God concerning Job, “Stretch out your hand…and [Job] will curse you to your face” (Job. 1:11) is often found to be true.

There is nothing more ugly in the world than hypocrisy. Rightly did C. S. Lewis remark, “Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst.”[1] And yet this is how we, at times, experience God through pain, suffering, and evil. God is hypocritical, he could help but he doesn’t. Sure, Jesus helped, he died on the cross. But a lot of good that did. And now he wants me to worship him for it?

The assertion of this three part post series is this –

Through the cross we know what is beautiful.

What does that have to do with pain, suffering, and cursing God? Well, not everything, but it does have something to say about it. The problem of pain, suffering, and evil is multifaceted. It impacts both our God-to-human and human-to-human relationships, it effects how we express our spirituality, it can persuade our reception of truth, and it influences our perception of beauty. This three part series will focus on the latter.




[1] C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (Harvest Books, 1964), p.146-7. Jan 01. 1970

Michael Michael (16 Posts)

I am a Ph.D. student at Trinity College Bristol. These blog posts contain some of my incomplete thoughts on political theology featuring less footnotes and more exclamation marks.

4 Comments Beauty and the Cross (Part 1 of 3)

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