When Rational Thought Meets an Irrational Season

One of the best pieces I read this week came from the New York Times by Stephen Marche. Called “Let My Tebow Go” the author, an admitted atheist confronts his dilemma: how does he as an atheist make sense of good things happening. Just as the Christian struggles with the question of how a good God can allow pain and suffering, the atheist struggles with the opposite — and that, he says, is “contending with joy” or “how can randomly good things happen”.

For him this is represented in two things: the first, the 3-year old daughter of a friend of his fell down a steep staircase and got up, unharmed. “I could barely stand to look at her afterwards” he says. “Every time I thought about what might have happened to my friends’ child, a fierce constriction grabbed my chest and a sickening feeling roiled in my belly. Over the rest of their visit, I kept randomly repeating, “That was a miracle.” It was the only phrase I could come up with. I didn’t know how to deal with inexplicable good fortune. Even after my friends returned to New York, the strange constriction in my chest persisted.”

The whole thing didn’t make sense. It wasn’t rational.

Tim-Tebow-Sports-Illustrated-Cover-4The second – Tim Tebow. That Tebow, a quarterback who is not that good, led the Broncos to victory after victory is not rational. The author is “confounded by the absurdity”. He finds himself longing to see this continue, he feels the Jets must let Tebow play. “Tim Tebow is a prophet of happy absurdity. He is a moment of inexplicable joy.”

It’s rational thought confronting irrational happening. It’s Susan from Miracle on 34th Street “I believe… I believe… It’s silly, but I believe.”

And where is this most at play? During the absurd and irrational season of Christmas. A virgin birth is not borne of rational thought, a death on the cross and resurrection three days later is not logical, rational. And that’s the mystery of this whole thing, this whole season. A baby is born of a virgin and history changes.

Madeleine L’engle articulates it best in her book, The Irrational Season, and her famous words:

This is the irrational season, When love blooms bright and wild, Had Mary been filled with reason, There’d have been no room for the child.”

In the midst of this last weekend before Christmas, where the ‘rational’ demands our attention, may we make room for irrational joy and promise.