Gabrielle Carey is an Australian author most widely known for the movie Puberty Blues, based upon the book of the same title. In a later book, In My Father’s HouseCarey relates an incident that led to her conversion to Christ. Carey was raised in an atheist humanist household. Her father was a university lecturer with a passionate commitment to the left side of politics. Throughout her upbringing he railed against oppression, capitalism and was a key figure in the anti-war movement during the Vietnam years.

Being against religious instruction Carey’s father wouldn’t allow her to attend Scripture classes at school, but he did allow her to attend Sunday School with her friends at the local Baptist Church. He had just one piece of advice: “Just remember to ask the teacher a question. Ask her why God doesn’t stop the war in Vietnam.”

Gabrielle did so but didn’t get an answer. The teacher, obviously embarrassed by the question, excused her self to go to the bathroom, and didn’t return to answer the question.

The experience convinced Carey that her father was right, that there was no God.

Years later Carey was living in Ireland. A music program she was listening to on the radio ended, to be followed by an interview with a Benedictine abbot. Gabrielle was about to turn the radio off when the interviewer asked the question her father had always used in debates with religious leaders. “If there is a God why is there so much injustice in the world.” Gabrielle paused to hear the Abbot’s reply, expecting the same old line about it being God’s will. The Abbot’s reply stunned her. “I don’t know” he said. “Sometimes being married to God is a bit like being married to Jack the Ripper. You just don’t know what he’s doing.”

Gabrielle says “It was the best and most honest answer I’d ever heard to that question.” She began a correspondence with the Abbot that eventually led her to convert to Catholicism.

The Abbot’s answer is honest. At the end of the day we don’t know why God allows suffering and evil. Sure, we can develop philosophically rigorous responses, but in the end they usually seem inadequate in the face of evil.

Source: Scott Higgins, based on Gabrielle Carey’s In My Father’s House (Pan MacMillan, 1992)

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