I’ve been reading some Yeats recently. In his short play, Calvary, Jesus is confronted by Judas as he walks with his cross:
Judas: I betrayed you because you seemed all powerful.
Jesus: My Father,
Even if now I were to whisper it,
Would break the world in his miraculous fury
To set me free.
Judas: And there is not one man in the wide world who is not in your power?
Jesus: My Father put all men into my hands.
Judas: That was the very thought that drove me wild.
I could not bear to think that you had but to whistle
And I must do; but after that I thought,
‘Whatever man betrays Him will be free’;
And life grew bearable again. And now
Is there a secret left that I do not know,
Knowing that if a man betrays a God
He is the stronger of the two?
It’s a strange play, from a strange poet, but this passage seems to encompass all the problems of free will and divine omnipotence so beautifully. I’ve yet to read Pete’s new book – funny, my complimentary copy just doesn’t seem to be forthcoming (the measly git) – but I wonder if we can see some of that fidelity in Judas’ thoughts here: subverting God, precisely because God ‘seemed all powerful’… and in that bizarre power-struggle of free will and knowledge, God allowing himself to be subverted. As I write in Signs of Emergence, I think Judas has been wrongly tarred by Christianity, and actually can serve as a very helpful, if troubled, mirror onto our own misconstructions of God and God’s power.