In the face of mass tragedy and terror in a post 9/11 world, we wonder where God is. But this is not a new question. Significant figures throughout history have struggled to see where Gods hand was at work and what it means to trust him. These include the prophets and patriarchs.
Bianchi is the founder and prior of the ecumenical monastic, Bose Community in Italy (founded in 1965, just after Vatican II). He is a perceptive spiritual writer (I have previously read and highly recommend his Echoes of the Word).
In God Where Are You? Practical Answers to Spiritual Questions,
Enzo explores several Old Testament saints. His treatment of each of these patriarchs and prophets yield fruitful insights into the spiritual life:
was called to go to the land that God would show him. Abrahams faith in God in going is a model for us. Especially because Abraham is given a promise that will not be fulfilled in his lifetime (i.e. possession of the land, become a great nation, etc.). Even in his reception of a promised offspring, Isaac
, he models for us a spirit of relinquishment of all he holds dear. So the father of our faith (and the Jewish faith) faces circumstances and ordeals that make faith in God difficult.
was the deceiver who cheated his brother out of his brother out of his birthright and inheritance. Despite his scoundrel nature, he was a child of promise. Two events changed Jacobss life forever. The first was his dream of a ladder from heaven to earth while he was on lam. The second happened when he returns home many years later and wrestles with God at the ford of Jabbok. The second event was the culmination of a lifetime of struggling with God, but it is through the struggling that Jacob (and we) discover that a new life is possible.
is a man who saw Gods glory and is physically transformed by the time he spends with God on the mountain. He is privileged to hear GodYHWH, I AM Who I AMand he is commissioned to lead Gods people out of slavery to the Promised Land. He is commissioned by God, but also struggles with
God, interceding for the people when they stand under His judgment. IT is through Moses struggle with God, he learns to think of others as better than himself. He leads the Israelites to the cusp of the Promised Land, though he himself would not enter.
fearful and depressed longing to die, meets God in the silence on Mount Horeb.
s call underscores how our encounters with God call us to be obedient servants of His word.
Ultimately these ancient encounters reveal that life with God has never been easy but that God has revealed himself to us in the midst of his people (129) and in the person of Jesus Christ and in those who live in him (133). In Jesus we find we are not just on our search for God, but God is searching for us.
Bianchis prose is simple and unadorned, but he speaks deep things. He is well read in Jewish and Christian spirituality and synthesizes their wisdom. I didnt agree with his interpretation at every turn. But I was challenged and think his reputation as a Christian writer is justified (Rowan Williams writes the forward and calls Bianchi one of the most significant Christian voices in Europe). Currently, I would give this book four stars, but I already want to read it again, so it may grow on me.James Matichuk
Enzo Bianchi is an Italian friar who in 1965 founded the Bose Community, a monastery that welcomes follwers and visitors of various Christian traditions. Bianchi has written God, Where Are You? with the intention to "seek only to echo stories of encounters between God and human beings, between God and those whom he chose, called and loved because they had sought God, prompted, dare one say, by God himself."
Stories include those of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Elijah and Isaiah. Bianchi's writing is thought provoking and examines the stories from a fresh perspective. This is an enjoyable book but not one to read straight through. It takes time to read and contemplate each chapter.
God, Where Are You? is appropriate for clergy, congregational and academic libraries. --Sharon T. Hilton, Congregational Libraries Today