Religious Naturalism - Essays

Acquitting God: A Naturalist Approach to Metaphors of God Post Trauma by Ashley Theuring

Introduction:

Irving Greenberg argued that a theology that does not make sense “in the presence of burning children” is not an adequate theology (Greenberg 1977). Classical theistic views of the Divine, defined as worldviews that promote a supernatural being capable of intercession, are unworthy of worship and inadequate as an ultimate concern because of the radical suffering of the innocent. Trauma and suffering are a pervasive part of this world. “Everywhere is the suffering of illness, ageing, and death…both in the natural world and among human beings a history of suffering weaves in and out of every moment so profoundly that suffering can be called the ‘red thread’ that connects all living things in history” (Johnson 1992, 249). In a world where we are all connected to such pain and death, where children can be shot dead within the safety of their school, how can we embrace an all-powerful, personal God who is silent and unmoved to intervene in these tragedies? What deeper knowledge about the nature of the Divine can we discover in the face of trauma? More importantly, what worldview changes must we embrace in order to make sense of our experience? Supernaturalism, a worldview in which non-embodied beings with agency (such as a theistic God) exist and can intervene in nature, can no longer be considered a viable option for understanding the Divine amidst radical suffering. Rather, we should strive for a worldview that makes sense not only scientifically, but experientially as well.

Continuing to use supernatural views of the Divine to comfort survivors and explain tragedy is irresponsible of religious institutions. Using the specific example of Christian theological responses to the recent Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, we can see that these supernatural worldviews are still being used in dangerous and counterproductive ways. To help us unpack the language present in these theological responses, we will pull on both trauma theory and the feminist critique of God-language. After these supernatural tendencies and their negative consequences are exposed, we shall make a constructive move towards a naturalist worldview, pulling on naturalist thinkers David Ray Griffin and Karl Peters, who may help us respond to trauma and suffering in more ethical and helpful ways.

Theological Responses and Sandy Hook:

On Friday December 14, 2012, twenty year-old Adam Lanza, after killing his mother, went to her place of work, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and fatally shot twenty children and six adults. This event sparked a wave of emotion across the country, including immediate questions of how this event could have happened. This tragic incident demanded meaning-making from all sectors of society. People looked to each other, their public officials, and their clergy for answers. The need to memorialize the victims was also an immediate part of the grieving process. Photos were displayed, teddy bears and Christmas presents were sent to the families, candles were lit, and vigils were held. This event seemed unique in its outcry of emotion. Was it because of the ages of the victims, the sheer numbers of them, or the violence with which their lives were taken? The senselessness of the event seemed to have affected the entire global community, with vigils and candle lighting events in all parts of the world. This event demanded responses from local clergy, who had two days to put together an appropriate response for their Sunday sermons. Still in shock, many locals of Sandy Hook and Newtown made their way to church on Sunday December 16th 2012 to hear from their religious authorities, looking for meaning.

Major themes covered in the sermons from Sandy Hook focused on the roles of human free will, the evil one, and our violent culture in the shooting. Many also focused on making sense of the shooting as a part of God's larger plan. Some clergy also had hope that this event would make the community stronger and provide opportunities for outreach, healing, and learning. The narratives and language used by the clergy revealed several theological assumptions that underlined their reactions to the traumatic event. In the Sandy Hook sermons, many of the assumptions revolved around the nature and character of God and almost always assumed a supernaturalist worldview.

Looking specifically at the language and metaphors of God used by the clergy in their sermons in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, we can see how these work to promote supernatural views of God, views which we shall unpack later as dangerous to survivors of trauma. Five Sunday sermons, dated December 16th 2012, from local Christian churches of varying denominations in the Sandy Hook and Newtown area were collected and considered for their theological themes and God language. The largest themes of supernaturalism found within the sermons collected focused around Divine agency. All the pastors took time to “locate” the Divine in the tragedy, whether God was in suffering with the victims or that God had been sadly pushed out of our society and therefore rendered impotent. Focusing on images of supernatural Divine agency, pastors of both Walnut Hills Community Church and Grace Christian Church expressed ideas of God's ability to intervene in the natural world very literally.

Pastor Brian Mowery of Walnut Hills Community Church used several different scriptural passages, including Moses parting the Red Sea, Daniel in the lion's den, and the survival of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, to show the power and ability of God to intervene in our lives. Pastor Mowrey argued that “We are in the world with a God who is powerful, who is able, [and] who can intervene” (Pastor Brian Mowrey, Walnut Hills Community Church, December 16, 2012). For Pastor Mowrey, the Divine is “powerful” and “provides a way” for His people, pointing to several instances of healing in his own community, saying “right here in this community He's healed. He's restored. He's called people to himself. The Lord has been good to us” (Pastor Brian Mowrey, Walnut Hills Community Church, December 16, 2012). Pastor Mowrey also asks his community to call upon the Divine in a very literal way, again pointing to scripture, saying “[…] we need to ask Him to come suddenly again as He came suddenly to these shepherds and through these angels He came with the radiance of Gods glory” (Pastor Brian Mowrey, Walnut Hills Community Church, December 16, 2012).

Pastor Berry Fredericks also expresses a theological response that assumes a supernatural deity in his sermon at the Grace Christian Church. Pastor Fredericks expresses this in an even more literal sense arguing that his wife, Sheila, had been shielded by God, in the form of the Holy Ghost, who caused her car to stop on a bridge, which kept her from being hit head on by another car. Pastor Fredericks argues, “We are going to see that the Holy Ghost will help you. I believe with all my heart, the Holy Ghost helped shield Sheila” (Pastor Berry Fredericks, Grace Christian Church, December 16, 2012). For Pastor Fredericks God also can have a physical presence in this world, and, more importantly, a physical absence. Pastor Fredericks uses a lot of time in his sermon to argue that God is no longer present in many aspects of our society. Because “the Lord is a gentleman and does not go where he is not wanted,” there are places, such as public school systems, where God is not present. Pastor Fredericks continues to use his “gentleman God” metaphor to argue that “If God is not wanted in the school system, God is not going to come in. Because He is a gentleman. But junk happens” (Pastor Berry Fredericks, Grace Christian Church, December 16, 2012). For Pastor Fredericks, the Divine being, the “gentleman God,” has the ability to intervene, but must be wanted in a situation before He will act.

Both versions of the Divine presented in these sermons are ultimately simplified versions of a classical theistic worldview, which support a supernatural being capable of intervening in creation. God is depicted as Lord, Father, and a gentleman, who has the ability to intervene in the world in real and direct ways. This Divine agency includes saving people from tragedy and death, as well as healing people in miraculous ways. While Pastor Mowrey does not address God's absence from intervening in Sandy Hook, he does call upon his congregation to ask for God's intervention now. This invocation after the tragedy can be seen as falling into a similar pattern of assuming prior intervention did not occur because it had not yet been requested. Pastor Fredericks is direct in attributing God's absence to His not being wanted in the public school systems. In this version, God chooses not to act because He is not wanted. In both sermons, this God does not intervene in the slaughtering of twenty-six innocent people, either because He is not wanted or is not asked.

Hermeneutic Interlocutors of Trauma and Metaphors of God:

In order to understand the deeper impact of the metaphors and God-language used by these clergy in the wake of the traumatic events of the Sandy Hook shooting, taking a look at trauma theory and a feminist critique of God-language will be helpful. We will pull on Shelly Rambo's work in trauma theology for a trauma theory lens. This will help us understand how trauma affects the human person and their worldviews. We will also be pulling from Elizabeth A. Johnson's crucial work on the power of God-language and the problems of totalizing metaphors to describe some of the language in the sermons. The theological questions brought to light in the aftermath of a traumatic event are some of the most crucial for understanding the gaps in our theology. Shelly Rambo, in her book on trauma and Christian theology, Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining, describes trauma as “an encounter with death. This encounter is not, however, a literal death but a way of describing a radical event or events that shatter all that one knows about the world and all the familiar ways if operating within it. A basic disconnection occurs from what one knows to be true and safe in the world” (Rambo 2010, 4). This disconnect between the self and the former worldview of a safe and trusting world, while traumatizing, can be a fruitful place for theological work. We begin to encounter questions about worldview and what type of worldview would be needed to understand a traumatic event. It questions the efficacy of such a worldview, begging the question “is this a worldview we, as a society, should even cultivate?” There are also more specific theological questions, such as “questions about God's will, power, and presence [which] are all central for religious persons interpreting their experiences of suffering and the suffering around them” (Rambo 2010, 5). Questions around classical theodicy, the problem of evil when God is all-powerful, become very complicated in the face of radical suffering. For these reasons, experiences of trauma are unique tools for pushing the boundaries of our theological assumptions. Rambo writes that “trauma theory provides a distinct lens through which to interpret scared texts and for rethinking the claims of central beliefs arising from them” (Rambo 2010, 30). We can see many of these central claims begin to buckle after the traumatic events of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in December of 2012. For example, a divine being capable of direct intervention, proposed by the sermons in Sandy Hook, becomes a major problem after the brutal killing of twenty-six people.

Elizabeth A. Johnson argues in She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse that these types of metaphors and use of language about God are not innocent. In fact, “the way in which a faith community shapes language about God implicitly represents what it takes to be the highest good, the profoundest truth, the most appealing beauty. Such speaking, in turn, powerfully molds the corporate identity of the community and directs its praxis” (Johnson 1992, 4). Johnson argues that God language is at the root of our communities. For example, Johnson was dealing specifically with male-God talk, which at its root subordinates women and “wittingly or not, it undermines women's human dignity as equally created in the image of God” (Johnson 1992, 5). In both of the sermons above, God is depicted in strictly male metaphors, often using hierarchical symbols of Lord. In fact, the “gentleman God” used by Pastor Fredericks becomes even more problematic when we consider the etymology of “gentleman,” which is a reference not only to God as male, but as upper class. The metaphor of the “gentleman God,” who does not go where he is not wanted, depicts a hierarchically based tyrant God who allows his people to suffer because He was not appreciated and they were not subservient.

As we can see, symbols of God carry a lot of weight and affect people and our culture in a number of ways. Symbols of God have sociological, psychological, as well as theological effects. Johnson points to the sociological and psychological cultural formation that occurs within symbols of God, writing:

Some views of the divine are perverted, so that devotion to this God leads to inhuman structures and behaviors. For example, God spoken of as a wrathful tyrant can be called upon to justify holy wars and inquisitional torture chambers. Language about God as universal creator, lover, and savior of all, on the other hand, moves believers toward forgiveness, care, and openness to inclusive community. The symbol of God functions, and its content is of the highest importance for personal and common weal or woe (Johnson 1992, 36).

Understanding how symbols of God function brings to light what kind of power our metaphors of God wield, especially theologically absolute symbols of God. When “one image or concept of God expands to the horizon thus shutting out others,” that symbol can quickly become idolatrous, conflating our own metaphors of God with our notions of the truest nature of the Divine (Johnson 1992, 39).

When we apply this to Sandy Hook and situations of trauma, our God language is at the root of how we approach trauma and suffering. Johnson argues that “God's own honor is at stake in human happiness. Whenever human beings are violated, diminished, or have their life drained away, God's glory is dimmed and dishonored” (Johnson 1992, 14). When our theologies tie the Divine to the ability to control our world or intervene in it, the reality of suffering becomes inexcusable. Here we begin to see why supernatural and theistic views of God, God as a being, are a problem in response to suffering.

Constructing a Naturalist Response to Trauma:

What symbols of God would be more helpful and less dangerous to use in post-trauma sermons? In the wake of crisis, must clergy fall back on archaic forms of literalizing God's role in our lives as a divine agent? Johnson argues that “all good symbols of God drive toward their own transcendence” (Johnson 1992, 40). For example, Johnson pulls on Whiteheadian forms of process theology as a fruitful place to develop symbols of God and ways of thinking about the divine (Johnson 1992, 250). There are several other naturalist worldviews that can do this type of work as well. For our purposes here, we shall look at two different naturalist worldviews, one of which is Whiteheadian in nature. Changing our God language and metaphors would not only help theology make more sense in the wake of trauma, it would also help introduce non-theistic and naturalist views of God into churches. These are first steps toward the major worldview change at which Johnson is driving.

This new, trauma-informed worldview must change our metaphysical and theological views of the Divine at an even deeper level. Unpacking the naturalist views of David Ray Griffin and Karl Peters may be extremely fruitful for developing trauma-informed views of the Divine that function more appropriately in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. Griffin proposes a process naturalism approach that promotes a view of God who has a much more subtle worldly influence, that makes room for the reality of suffering without a worldview disconnect. Peters' naturalist approach sees God as an event and focuses on building an ethical approach to the Divine, incorporating suffering as a part of nature. Both of these authors pull on Christian themes and tropes including the trinity and resurrection, but also reject the idea of a theistic divine agent who could intervene directly in events of suffering. In this way, these authors can act as bridges between classical Christian theological responses to suffering and new naturalist worldviews, which are able to incorporate experiences and realities of suffering in more helpful ways.

David Ray Griffin's naturalist approach, developed in his book Two Great Truths: A New Synthesis of Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith, is called Naturalismppp, standing for prehension-panexpereientialist-panentheist (Griffin 2004, 76). Prehension, a Whiteheadian concept at its core, is “sensory perception as derivative from nonsensory mode of prehending our environment” (Griffin 2004, 77). This ability of nature to prehend the Divine plays a large role in understanding a naturalist view of the Divine's influence on nature. There is a give and take between the created world and the Divine influence. The second “p” is panexperientialism, which allows for the incorporation of a mind and body, without dualism or materialism (Griffin 2004, 78). Panexperientialism includes all actual individuals, including individual cells. This allows for Griffin to solve the mind-body problem, while allowing the reality of freedom because each individual, while influenced by the divine, makes its own choices (Griffin 2004, 81).

For the discussion of metaphors of God in the wake of trauma, Griffin's panentheism does the most functional work for us. Griffin begins with creation out of relative nothingness. Rather than creation ex nihilo, Griffin believes the Divine orders the chaos through subtle influence on enduring things through actual occasions. The creation out of chaos, similar to Aristotle's “prime matter” (Griffin 2004, 85) allows for a co-creating world (Griffin 2004, 87), where God was never alone but always influencing actual occasions, which arise out of the past (Griffin 2004, 84). Within Griffin's worldview, freedom is inherent in all things and the Divine cannot overpower the free will of actual occasions (Griffin 2004, 88). Unlike the traditional theism we see in the Sandy Hook sermons, which argues for an omnipotent divine will that controls all things, Griffin (and Whitehead) argues that finite beings have creative power and this cannot be overridden; rather, the Divine uses persuasive power to help shape reality (Griffin 2004, 89). Therefore, the arguments from the sermons that focused on God's absence from the Sandy Hook shooting become a waste of time and unhelpful. The Divine is unable to intervene in this type of direct way and pastoral energy can be used elsewhere in more helpful ways.

Griffin's panentheism also means we experience the Divine unlimitedly, not as an actual being, but as an influence in the world (Griffin 2004, 92). The Whiteheadian process theory Griffin is pulling from argues that “God acts in the world by providing ideals,” which Whitehead called “initial aims” (Griffin 2004, 95). In this worldview, the victims of Sandy Hook were not abandoned but actually surrounded in some sense by the Divine in the midst of the traumatic event. The Divine is no longer blind to the suffering of children, or portrayed as a “gentleman God” who refuses to help because he is not asked or not wanted.

Griffin's version of panentheism helps him incorporate and make sense out of the problem of evil. In worldviews where the Divine creates the universe out of nothing, God becomes the origin of evil as well as good. When the Divine creates through influence over primal matter, God is working with the very nature of things, including the reality (and metaphysical necessity) of evil (Griffin 2004, 88). Primal matter has its own inherent laws and truths, including value and power. Both value and power can result in good or evil (Griffin 2004, 92). The question of the sheer amount of suffering and evil in the world still troubles Griffin, who takes time to further conjecture on the necessity of evil. Griffin argues that greater good requires a greater sensitivity in individuals, which results in our ability to feel pain and suffering (Griffin 2004, 90). Power is needed by individuals in order for the capacity to bring about good; unfortunately, this power is what also results in evil (Griffin 2004, 91). For Griffin, ultimately the possibility of evil allows for the existence of humanity. This situating of evil in the natural world is helpful for developing a worldview that continues to work in the face of trauma. This worldview allows us to move quickly away from questions of theodicy and into looking at how a more complex view of God may help us understand trauma in meaningful ways, as a part of creation and our capacity for great goods.

Griffin pulls on the Christian metaphor of the Trinity, seeing it as important to move away from strict monotheism and move towards reconceiving the Divine as Trinitarian (Griffin 2004, 102). Griffin sees metaphors derived from the Trinity such as “Gods is Love” as pointing to a major aspect of the Divine as relationship. Love is a perfect metaphor for Griffin's worldview of the Divine because love is not coercive, but persuasive (Griffin 2004, 104). For Griffin, the Christian symbol of Christ is also an example of the Divine's persuasive agency in the world (Griffin 2004, 104-105). While Christ was ultimately rejected, he was able to influence in persuasive, rather than coercive, ways. Rather than the hierarchical metaphors used in the Sandy Hook sermons, such as Lord, Father, or gentleman, Griffin focuses on the trinity as a symbol of multiplicity, relationality, and love, embracing more flexible views of the Divine that make sense in the wake of trauma.

Our second religious naturalist, Karl Peters, sets out to propose a naturalistic God, compatible with evolutionary theory, in his work Dancing with the Sacred: Evolution, Ecology, and God. Peters' approach is pragmatic and influenced greatly by Charles Sanders Peirce. This pragmatic lens for Peters means “we should define ideas, even abstract ideas, by the experience we could expect to have if such an idea were credible” (Peters 2002, 3). This pragmatic approach puts experience at the center, which puts our experiences of suffering, such as Sandy Hook, in an important position, allowing for us to experience less disconnect between our worldview and our experiences.

Peters, also influenced by Wieman, sees the Divine as a creative event or creative process working in the world (Peters 2002, 4). Peters, similar to Griffin, is not proposing a theistic God, but rather a creative process or event that influences in a less coercive manner than the theistic God proposed in classical theism seen in the Sandy Hook sermons. Again, we can move away from the question of theodicy with which the classical theist must wrestle. He also uses metaphors of “sacred center,” focusing on the possibility for variety and particularity (Peters 2002, 25), as well as the metaphor of “creative Mystery” to talk about the God-event (Peters 2002, 29). Unlike Griffin, Peters is not focused on building a metaphysical system of the Divine, but rather a worldview that incorporates evolution and human experience.

Peters focuses much of his discussion on the Divine around developing a broader, non-theistic, and less literal view of the Divine. For Peters, one important step is for everyone to understand that we must give up on the idea of eternal Truth being expressed in a single religion and rather embrace a more pluralistic notion of the Divine (Peters 2002, 28). Along with this pluralistic embrace, Peters argues that analogies for the Divine should be taken as relational metaphors and not as literal (Peters 2002, 31). This is especially important when discussing personal analogies of the Divine, such as the analogies used in the Sandy Hook sermons (Peters 2002, 32). Peters finds non-personal metaphors most beneficial, arguing “I cannot believe that the forces and processes of nature are personal in any human sense” (Peters 2002, 33). Instead Peters prefers non-personal metaphors such as “serendipitous creativity” (Peters 2002, 36). As far as discerning any Truths about the Divine, Peters does see the process of variation and selection within evolution as a key to understanding the nature of Divine creational processes, choosing to situate the Divine within the process of evolution rather than as a deity outside of creation (Peters 2002, 54). Peters does not take away our metaphors without replacing them, giving us several functioning metaphors for the Divine, all of which focus on multiplicity and relationality. These non-totalizing metaphors work to build a worldview very different from the classical theism seen in the Sandy Hook sermons.

Peters devotes a good portion of his book to looking at suffering. For Peters, suffering is a natural part of life because we place value on ourselves and others, which leads to our ability to suffer in the loss of people and aspects of our lives that we value (Peters 2002, 108). Similar to Griffin's argument, suffering is a necessary aspect of human existence. “Pain and suffering are the price paid for evolution of feeling and sense experience in animals, and of abstract thinking in humans. We wouldn't want to do away with these. We value feelings, sense experiences, and thought even though they give rise to pain and suffering when other creatures use us instrumentally as they too try to live” (Peters 2002,108). Peters sees nature as a balance of destruction and creation reminiscent of the Hindu understanding of Shiva (Peters 2002, 109), pointing to the paradox of the Christian symbol of the cross as an interweaving of life and death (Peters 2002,110). Discussing the cross, Peters writes “It represents the suffering of the Holy in the midst of humanity, a suffering that is redemptive, bringing about new good for others. The cross symbolizes that the fundamental ground of all being has as one of its features, suffering” (Peters 2002, 111). The theme of life and death intermixed is a major aspect of trauma theory. Trauma survivors often have to make sense of remaining in the face of death. The cross is a very powerful symbol of this reality.

Similar to the cross, suffering is not only a place of death, but also life. Peters reads redemption in suffering, seeing good in the life after the suffering that would not be possible without the suffering (Peters 2002, 111). Peters does not argue that this good fully overcomes the suffering or is greater than the good before, writing:

I think it too difficult to determine whether some new species, some new aspect of culture, some new pattern of living realized through suffering is higher than what went before. However, I think we can say that when some new good emerges through a process that involves suffering then the loss of the old and its accompanying pain and sorrow are redeemed in the new (Peters 2002, 111).
Again, there is a cruciform nature to human experience, which is situated at the intersection of life and death (Peters 2002, 112).

For Peters, this cruciform nature is crucial to understanding suffering, arguing “A fundamental aspect of nature is that it is cruciform. Living in harmony with cruciform nature means being open to the possibilities of new life, new truths, new beauty, and new love that emerges in the midst of suffering” (Peters 2002, 112). We see this nature even in astrophysics: death leads to new life in the deaths and births of stars (Peters 2002, 115). Peters experiences a “new opportunity to live” in the tragic death of his wife. He writes that “when life goes, love can flourish” and the flourishing of love, for Peters, is more important than life (Peters 2002, 117). Peters' worldview involves not constantly looking to the future for redemption, but rather looking for life in death, which cannot be separated (Peters 2002,118). Understanding this mix of life in death is very different from the sermons we heard in Sandy Hook and other common Christian responses to tragedy. “One could find saving good even in the midst of suffering, even in the face of death” (Peters 2002,118). This is far from redemptive triumph over death, but comforting all the same. This new perspective embraces a blurred binary of creation and destruction. Peters writes, “But the universe seems to be so constituted that one cannot separate creation from destruction, pleasure from pain, joy from sorrow.... Even during the dying of a loved one, new love can be born” (Peters 2002, 118). In death, one may experience life in new ways. Even though Peters sees the possibility for good in death, he critiques Christian theology for moving too quickly to resurrection (Peters 2002, 121). This is the very same critique Shelly Rambo builds in her work on trauma theory. We need to cultivate Holy Saturday in our liturgy and theology. On the cross there is true loss, love dies (Peters 2002, 122). We are forsaken. Peters writes that “love can no longer love. Love has been forsaken” (Peters 2002, 122). To remain in that suffering and the reality of suffering is an important part of understanding our nature and the nature of the Divine. This theme is completely missing from the theologies proposed in the classical theism we see in the Sandy Hook sermons. Peters and Rambo are both pulling on classical Christian symbols of the cross and Holy Saturday, which would work in the context of the Christian churches of Sandy Hook.

Drawing Conclusions:

Griffin and Peters together give us several theological, naturalist choices to address the reality of evil, suffering, and trauma, allowing us to avoid the problems of theodicy found in classical theisms such as the worldviews found in the sermons above. Both replace the controlling deity, who refuses intervention because He is not asked or wanted, with a much more fruitful naturalistic view of the Divine as a process, influencing creation rather than coercing. Both authors use metaphors that remain open to experience and science, anticipating inevitable worldview changes in the face of new discoveries or experiences. Both authors also complicate the role of suffering, making it an important part of creation, rather than something that is “unnatural,” as expressed by many classical Christian theologies of creation and the fall.

It is important to note that through embracing a naturalist worldview in light of trauma we are sacrificing certain “comforts” found in more traditional theistic worldviews. It is clear that those securities, such as the personal protection of God, the possibility for miracles, and notions of redemptive suffering, are toxic to trauma survivors. Supernatural approaches to the Divine are unhelpful and dangerous, especially in the aftermath of suffering and trauma. Naturalist worldviews of the Divine and creation provide more complex looks at reality and our experiences of suffering, allowing the middle space of life and death to intermix, testifying to our experiences of the world. Griffin and Peters provide a number of metaphors and worldviews that allow for trauma survivors to move through questions of theodicy and focus on what can be made known about nature and the Divine through experiences of trauma. What Truths are present in suffering? What remains in the space of death-Holy Saturday-before resurrection? Many theologians who make these steps such as Rambo, Griffin, and Peters, point to the remains of Love in the midst of suffering. Fostering naturalist worldviews of the divine allows for us to do the real work of looking for the Love that remains in death. This needs to become the role of our clergy and religious institutions in the wake of trauma, guiding the traumatized in the middle space of death and finding what remains there, rather than struggling with archaic questions of God's intervention or skipping over suffering completely to embrace resurrection.