I was telling Larry that my view of tragedy is that God has a plan and he wants the best for us, so that, I hope, present suffering has a purpose, even if I don't know what that is, and there are better things to come. Perhaps this whole life is like the bad dream that we awaken from after we die. Its one way to deal with the fact that we're all going to die. I realize this philosophy is naive and derived from the viewpoint I picked up from my Reformed Bible study (or as Larry put it, its quite Calvinist). I don't think of my view as predestination (thats for Presbyterians and I'm not) but as some sort of complicated view of the intersection of the temporal with the eternal which we can't understand. But thats probably what predestination is. Its where I am now, I don't necessarily think its right, but its how I cope.
The Susan Howatch novels, which I adore, seem to be espousing the idea that creation is on-going and that we are all part of trying to make things 'come right,' which I suppose they eventually will, its just we get to decide whether we try to actively contribute to it or whether we work against it and against ourselves. I don't know what this doctrine is called.
The other night, my DH and I watched 21 Grams, which I'd been wanting to see for awhile. It sort of sounds like its a movie about drugs, its not, 21 grams is supposedly the weight of the soul and the movie is about loving and death and religion and hell and redemption. I highly recommend it, though its work to watch because the chronology jumps around (along the lines of Memento, but not as strange or as clear-cut). The basic story is that an evangelistic, fundamentalist Christian accidently kills a man and his two young daughters in a hit and run accident. The movie is what happens to the wife/mother of the victims, the driver, and the recipient of the husband's heart. Its pretty intense. It also has a lot of religious imagery -- I think I caught the most overt of it, though there is probably plenty more -- my favorites, the last names of the characters, Jordan, Rivers and Peck. By the way, the fundamentalist is (predictably) portrayed as a holy-roller and a bit of a nut.
Anyway, a wonderful scene, which I'd like to watch again, is when the driver is visited in prison by his pastor. They argue about what is going on -- why did this happen? The driver insists it happened because Jesus wanted it to happen (at least he's consistent, earlier in the film, he said he won his truck in a lottery because Jesus wanted him to have it). The pastor insists that it was just an accident. They argue, the pastor says that part of the problem is the driver's arrogance and he must pray for forgiveness, to which the driver asks, why do I have to ask for forgiveness if it was an accident? They yell, they both quote scripture at each other. The pastor screams at the driver that he needs to renounce his pride or he's going to hell. The driver points at his head and says "this is hell." I thought it was very moving. I'm sure I've mangled the scene in my memory, but I thought it was a very powerful scene, showing the problem with fundamentalism -- neither answer really makes sense. How could God or Jesus want such a tragedy to occur? How could he allow such a terrible accident? Is the accident a way of punishing us for our sins?
Maybe we can't know the cause of some tragedies, maybe we're not meant to know. Maybe our job is to figure out how to move along, staying on our path or finding it again.