The Doors of the Sea: Where was God in the Tsunami? by David Bentley Hart. William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mich. 109 pages
David Bentley Hart is an Orthodox Christian and theologian who writes extraordinarily well. It’s a pleasure to read him simply because of his vocabulary — I’m always learning new words — and his capacity to dissect an opponents’ argument with uncanny precision. He deploys the same skills in this book, responding to those who claim a secret providence explaining God’s active involvement in the deaths of thousands, and on the other hand those who claim those deaths prove the nonexistence of God. Hart is pointedly clear that his essay is a theological response to suffering and not an explanation. In fact, he is impatient with all attempts at explanation, particularly those of ultra-Calvinists who insist that nothing happens outside the active will of God, including horrific suffering such as the tsunami. He brings an Orthodox love of the created world into his larger argument about the mystery of God that cannot be reduced to categories that make of God a monstrous distortion of all that is beautiful. Hart draws upon Dostoevsky in a stunning way that gives credence to the protest against the death of the innocent as a form of faith. There is a great deal of theological insight packed into this brief book. Of the many books on theodicy I rank this as one of the best.