Are there any Stephen King fans out there? If so, have you read Desperation? If you haven’t, let me give you a quick synopsis: There is a small town that goes by the name of Desperation, Nevada. Bad things are happening in Desperation. There are many characters to meet, but one of the main characters is a young boy named David. David is just becoming versed in the way of the Lord. He has accidentally discovered religion and has become an uneasy convert. Early on in his conversion, the reverend who is guiding him along the path, tells the boy that God is cruel, but God is also love.
David understands this, in a vague, mysterious kind of way, but he doesn’t really know what it means for God to be cruel. He can’t reconcile the God he believes is love with the God who is also cruel. He doesn’t truly know what all this means but he takes the statement, “God is cruel” and he runs with it. When things get rough in Desperation, he touts his “God is cruel” statement. When horrible things happen to his family and the people around him, he knows it’s because “God is cruel”. But when he finally gets to the point where he thinks he knows what his mission is in this horrible set of circumstances, he is confronted by the possibility that God has abandoned him in this comedy of horrors, but like a good, little trooper, he moves forward with what he believes God wants him to do.
When things rapidly begin to unravel, one of the other main characters, Johny, tells David,
“You said ‘God is cruel’ the way a person who’s lived his whole life on Tahiti might say ‘Snow is cold’. You knew, but you didn’t understand.” He stepped close to David and put his palms on the boy’s cold cheeks. “Do you know how cruel your God can be, David. How fantastically cruel?”
I think about this book a lot. Even before my recent re-read, the dichotomy of the idea that God is love and that God is cruel has been roiling around in my head.
When DJ and I first met, face-to-face, we were at the very beginning of our relationship. We were just beginning to learn about the other through emails, messaging, and phone calls, before we finally met in person, on common ground.
As that long weekend was coming to a close, we were sitting at the kitchen table, when DJ began to cry. She admitted to me that she was disappointed in herself for the failure of her marriage but she stayed with him as long as she did because her greater fear was that of dying alone. I assured her that that would never happen as long as we were together, as long as I could help it. Once we made that commitment, it would be for life. We parted ways and I believe our long distance relationship really started at that point.
I think about this discussion now and I think I also understand that maybe I was there for DJ, if for no other reason, than to make sure she didn’t die alone. Maybe, we were together, not just because we loved each other and wanted to spend our lives together, but also because God did not want DJ to die alone. In that sense, I know that for DJ, God was love.
But, for me, I also know now, that God is cruel. And no one put it better than Mr. King, towards the end of his novel Desperation, when David is ready to accept what he believes is the fate that God has planned for him, he is redirected towards a path he doesn’t believe possible. A path that he has been set on against his will, because as Johny explains to David,
God is cruel. Sometimes he makes you live.
He made me live and yes, God is fucking cruel.
I enjoy reading and have blogged in the past about travel and books. My latest blog is a vanity blog. I write about whatever comes to mind, specifically, things I think I need in life. Hope you enjoy!