Monday, September 28, 2009

Childbirth, the stage and God's presence/absence

The trouble with being blessed with so many intelligent, creative, and fully engaged friends is that it is very difficult to keep up with all their endeavors. I try, but I am slow.

Dr. Susan Windley-Daoust, professor of theology at St. Mary's University of Minnesota, the very institution that may yet grant a master's degree to me, and with whom I had the privilege of studying theology at said school, has a wonderful article in the current issue of America magazine, entitled A Fiery Gift about natural child-birth. Hers is no abstract treatment of the subject because she is shortly expecting her fourth child. She is also featured on on the 5 October podcast on America's website. I urge you to listen to the podcast and read her article.

It put me again in mind of this passage, written by St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans: "For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies" (8:22-23).

While I am bringing up articles from America by and about great women, Fr. Robert Lauder, whose previous article, Accept the Absurd: Beckett and Kierkegaard, Godot and Christ, was the occasion of a post earlier this month- Our on-going cultural embrace of non-being - strikes cultural gold again, this time by interviewing Liv Ullmann. He begins by asking her a question related to the subject of his previous article: "Why is it that many of the great plays and films of the last century have dealt with the silence or absence of God?: To which Ullmann, who is an artist of extraordinary achievement, a brilliant director, writer, and actress, answers: "A lot of playwrights, and other people, try to connect with God because they feel this silence of God in their lives. They look at the bottomless black hole they feel inside themselves and, since there is such silence, they feel lonely with other people, and they question the strange world they live in—with violence and all those things—and they don’t see that God exists. I believe that people who feel so deeply the silence of God are very, very close to finding God."


  1. Dr. Windley-Daoust is a great professor. Without really knowing me, except through a colleague there (Ken Stenstrup), she was gracious enough to read a paper I had written on Hans Kung and his Christology. Her comments were very helpful.

  2. Thanks very much for that last quote (Ullmann). I don't have time right now, but I must go and read the interview. I think that quote really perfectly sums up what I often feel, and the way he phrased it is almost lyrical.

  3. Scott, thanks for the kind words....I'd expound if I didn't feel like such 9 months pregnant crap.

    And chiara, now I know who you are! Congrats on your ordination!

  4. Josh:

    Liv Ullman is a beautiful person, the kind of Christian I want to be!


  5. Susan:

    I am bugging our Blessed Mother for you daily, Memorares. Your piece was very comforting to my wife. Too bad Salt Lake and Winona are so far distant, we could find a really brave person to watch all our children and go on a double-date!

    Seriously, you are in my prayers these days.

  6. Dr. Sue, I didn't know you were the author of the Ironic Catholic. Thanks for remembering me.

    Blessings on you and your family.

  7. Scott, thanks for the Memorares. I love that prayer. I'm so tired, it is hard for me to concentrate to pray, so I am deeply appreciative of the prayers of others.


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