Saturday, March 9, 2013

Far from the Tree

A few days ago I finished reading Far from the Tree, Andrew Solomon's tome -- 702 pages, plus notes! -- about families where the children are challengingly different from their parents. Deaf kids, dwarfs, prodigies, gay. One of the most moving encounters is with the parents of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters.

Solomon himself is gay and had a rough childhood because of it. "I started this book to forgive my parents and ended it by becoming a parent," he says.

These, his last lines, are what I want to remember:

Sometimes, I had thought the heroic parents in this book were fools, enslaving themselves to a life's journey with their alien children, trying to breed identity out of misery. I was startled to learn that my research had built me a plank, and that I was ready to join them on their ship.

As I read, the question of theodicy kept coming to mind, you know, "How could a God who is both good and all-powerful create and continue a world of suffering?"

I guess Solomon's book confirmed for me the really odd truth: How can humans so love a world so flawed? Because we might want to blame God for life's imperfections, but we still want to live.

And even more, I think of how (though I never want God to hear me say this) the hard stuff is what makes a meaningful life.

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