Tributes have been pouring in for author, teacher and Holocaust-survivor Elie Wiesel who died on July 2 at the age of 87.
|Elie Wiesel Sept 30, 1928 - July 2, 2016|
Wiesel’s classic Night was one of the formative influences on my spiritual and theological development. Although written as a work of fiction, it is based on Wiesel’s own experience in the Nazi concentration camp where his father, mother and younger sister all perished.
Wiesel’s forty books all deal with the mysteries of suffering, God and faith, and the vital importance of memory. Wiesel has written extensively about the suffering of the Jews, but with no trace of self-pity, rage or entitlement. His voice has carried such moral authority because he has spoken on behalf of all innocent victims, not only his own tribe. He insists that we remember so that we will learn, grow and heal.
Wiesel also reminds us that faith is a struggle and that doubt is an essential element of belief.
It is common today for people to give up on faith too easily. “I see terrible things happening – so God must not exist.” “The Bible was written 2000 years ago – so it must not be relevant to today.” “Christians are responsible for wars and oppression – so the church must be wrong.” “I can’t make sense out of doctrines like the Trinity – so I’ll just dispense with them.” “Science has vastly increased our knowledge – so we’ve outgrown ancient traditions.”
From Elie Wiesel we can learn the importance of struggling with faith and wrestling with God.
In a 2005 interview with writer Cathleen Fansani, Wiesel talked about what he called his “wounded faith.”