Francis’s catch-phrase, “the God of Surprises” may have been borrowed from his fellow Jesuit, Fr. Gerard Hughes. Hughes wrote the enormously popular book, “God of Surprises”, which has been translated into 20 languages and gone through multiple printings since it was published in 1985. (Hughes credits Jesuit heretic Karl Rahner with coining the phrase “God of Surprises”.)
The theme of the book is just as much “chaos” as it is “surprises”. In fact an alternative title that Fr. Hughes considered bestowing upon his book was “Finding God in the Chaos”. The terms chaos and surprises each occur 21 times throughout the book. He seems to believe that chaos is a human necessity, in which the God of Surprises hovers over the turbulent waters of chaos and brings forth a new creation. “… I pray from the Scriptures I am letting the spirit of God hover over the chaos and darkness of my being. When I allow the word of God to hover over my preoccupations, then anything can happen, for God is the God of surprises.”
This leads one to wonder if “the God of Surprises” is a sanitized name for the “god of chaos”. Other so-called “experts” seem to confirm this view,
- “…the temporary construction of chaos is an essential ingredient of joking or initiations rituals. In scriptural initiation rituals, ‘chaos’ and its many imaginative synonyms… contain a special meaning in addition to the sociological one. The word ‘chaos’ was used by the ancient Greeks to describe the amorphous state of primeval matter prior to creation… chaos carries with it the notion of indeterminacy and potentiality… Nothingness and potentiality – that is the incongruity of the biblical symbol of chaos. God is a God of surprises” (Laughing with God: Humor, Culture, and Transformation, by Gerald A. Arbuckle, SM – author of Refounding the Church).
- “I believe the “ten C’s” are needed to balance the “3 R’s” of education: They are: Cosmology, Contemplation (or meditation), Chaos, Creativity, Compassion, Community, Ceremony and Celebration, Critical Thinking, Courage, Character and Chakra Development” (Matthew Fox).
- Dialogs I have had with Rupert Sheldrake and with Ralph Abraham, one of the founders of chaos theory and author of Chaos, Gaia and Eros, have also helped me and others to explore in deeper richness the implications of a healthy via negativa and the mysteries of darkness and of disorder that we experience in our lives and in the creative richness of nature. Professor Abraham has also volunteered to share his findings on chaos with our inner city teen agers and to great effect” (Matthew Fox).
- “Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable” (Chaos Theory).
So if the God of Surprises and the god of chaos are related, what does that mean? Chaos gods are often (though not always) feminine and as such are seen as a “personification of nature, motherhood, fertility, creation, destruction, or… the bounty of the earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world, such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother ” (Wikipedia).
Examples of chaos/earth mother goddesses:
- Kali (Hindu):
- “She is a symbol of Mother Nature herself – primordial, creative, nurturing and devouring in turn, but ultimately loving and benevolent. In this aspect of goodness she is referred to as Kali Ma, Mother Kali, or Divine Mother, and many millions of Hindus revere and worship her in this form.”
- Requires “death, destruction, and human sacrifice”.
- “One of the meanings of Kali’s name is ‘force of time’”.
- “Kali is often depicted entwined with serpents; a necklace of skulls; a girdle of dissevered human hands holding various weapons of death” (Meaning of Kali)
- Chaos (Greek):
- “Personified as a female, Chaos was the primal feature of the universe, a shadowy realm of mass and energy from which much of what is powerful (and mostly negative and dark) in the world would stem forth in later genealogies”.
- “Chaos was all that there was, the dark majesty and mystery of creation incarnate. And that it was from Chaos that the first three primordial gods sprang forth: the wide-bosomed Gaea (Earth), Tartarus (the Underworld), and Eros (Love), the fairest among the deathless gods. Gaea would go on to become the Mother of Everything Beautiful in the world; Chaos would not be as fortunate. Out of herself, she would give birth to two more children: Erebus (Darkness) and Nyx (Night). True, their sexual union would produce luminous offspring – Aether (the Divine Air) and Hemera (the Day). However, the progeny of Night – Chaos’ daughter feared by Zeus himself – would end up being a string of sinister, ill-starred children”.
- Pachamama (Andean):
- “The Pachamama is the highest divinity of the Andean people since she is concerned with fertility, plenty, the feminine, generosity and ripening crops, besides providing protection. The name Pachamama is translated into English as Mother Earth since pacha is a word in both Quechua and Aymara that means earth, cosmos, universe, time, space, etc. in English and mama means mother’” (Pachamama).
- “So, God’s Word transformed ‘chaos’ at the dawn of creation into a ‘cosmos’, an ordered world system, capable of supporting human life, and suitable to be home for man (Is.45:18). And the lesson here is simple: Chaos with the Word of God becomes Cosmos. Conversely, Cosmos without God’s Word turns into chaos!” (Cardinal Turkson at Vatican Gardens Pachamama Ceremony).
It seems that the God of Surprises is no different than Pachamama.
Note: This post is by a writer who prefers to remain anonymous.
Pray an Our Father now for the restoration of the Church.