‘Faith seeking understanding’?; ‘Cynicism seeking justification’? Something else altogether?
When part way through Brooks’ book I wondered what its purpose was. Why retell a biblical story? I knew and applauded that she would find the feminine voices in the narrative. I hoped that she would at least in some small way be seeking to explore her faith in an honest and public manner. I could thus reflect upon my own. The gift she would give me would be that her private confession could be my private consolation. I could think perhaps ‘with’ her, perhaps ‘against’ her, but the subject matter would be shared.
Having completed the book I wish to really applaud her. To condemn a theocracy is a common pastime – but not often to seek to understand it. Yet I think she earnestly does seek this. She sees the manipulations and graft, she relates the connections with physical beauty, the quest for both personal and political power, and the duplicity of the characters. Yet, significantly, Brooks does not trivialize or reject theology. She honours it. She respects it.
I can only think of Augustine’s words that she has faith that seeks understanding. In my view this is such a redemptive and positive approach.
On the BBC recently the news reader relayed a story about Filipinos seeking to touch a Christian cross that was being paraded through one of the cities in The Philippines. Hundreds were leaping to touch it. His final comment and sneer indicated clearly his contempt for their practice.
My Christian faith is not the kind that seeks to touch amulets or icons. A discussion between different people about how their faith works I would find interesting. I disrespect some in the media who push an agenda of religious cynicism as a habit: any chance to have a dig. I yearn for proper explorations, for texts that are respectful and thorough.
Brooks’ book is the complete opposite of the media commentator. It would be possible to read it as a critique of theocracy, and yet I don’t believe it is this at all. It is an exploration of her faith, even an explanation as to why Solomon’s wisdom trumps David’s brawn.
Finally, I am very interested in her theology. God (The Name), as a character in the book, does arguably act with an overall purpose – to end violence and to bring in wisdom – but so often acts by not acting. Whilst God’s voice is very powerful at key points, there is also a theology of quietness in the book. I enjoyed this.
She has given me much to ponder.
I thank her.