First book is underway and life’s fascinating contingency

It's something special. The print files for the publishing house's first book have been sent to the print shop. And soon is Roland Spjuth's long-awaited book "Om Gud och allt annat" ("About God and everything else") here. This raises my thoughts. Surely it is strange how the threads in one's life story are woven together! Life is really contingent in an exciting way. What?

It’s something special. The print files for the publishing house’s first book have been sent to the print shop. And in a couple of weeks is Roland Spjuth’s long-awaited book Om Gud och allt annat (“About God and everything else”) here.

This raises my thoughts. Surely it is strange how the threads in one’s life story are woven together! Life is really contingent in an exciting way. What? Well, I mean that one’s life could have been in so many other ways, but now it became like this. Life is unpredictable and surprising.

I didn’t know there in the 70s in Växjö that the friendship with Roland would still last 45 years later and that we now have the privilege of living quite close to each other and belonging to the same congregation – Hyllie Park Kyrkan in Malmö. Maybe it is that faith, hope and friendship remain and that the greatest of these is friendship!

I didn’t know there in the 80s in Örebro, when I, Roland and my brother Arne studied theology and lived together (and read such theologians as Karl Barth, Hendrikus Berkhof, Jürgen Moltmann, Wolfhart Pannenberg and Thomas Torrance), that I years later would have the privilege of publishing a fascinating systematic theology by none other than Roland.

I didn’t know there in the 80’s or 90’s or 00’s in Mölndal and Klippan, how invaluable all my experiences as a translator, editor and IT consultant at Libris publishing house would be many, many years later. Thank you Libris!

I didn’t know there around the turn of the millennium in Klippan, how my “quirky” project to digitize Karl Barth’s Die Kirchliche Dogmatik (scanning and ocr of 10,000 pages of German fine-text, varied with even more fine-text, including Latin and Greek) would result in technical skills and contacts with publishers and universities around the world, which I now have incredible use of!

These are just a few single threads in my life story that become especially clear when I now think of Spricka förlag, the publication of the first book and the friendship with Roland. But these are just coincidences, maybe someone thinks. Surely the contingency of life is all about chance and coincidences? If so, then the claim that life is contingent is pretty uninteresting.

But for me as a Christian, the statement becomes interesting when I put it in relation to the fact that I (like you) is created. Because then the contingency of life is about the realization that my life can only be comprehensible to the extent that I discover that I am part of a history, a story, a drama that I myself have not created or managed to compose.

This is good news, not least in a culture that sometimes seems to be dying of boredom (as Stanley Hauerwas says). Because if life is contingent and we are created, then that means that life is basically a surprising gift, even though we humans many times do what we can to destroy this gift. Life is basically a generous and unexpected gift, not a project that we have to control and to ensure that it becomes of the greatest possible benefit.

Life is not just about coincidences. But also not about fate and predestination. The God who weaves together your and my life story, and the great drama of all life and creation, is not a God who needs to compete with you and me for space, not a God who competes for who can gain the most control. God is sovereign and free, and in God’s freedom God does not need to stifle our freedom and destroy our choices for God’s will to happen. We humans often try to rule by subduing and controlling. That’s not the case with God. God is the one who reigns and that is just another way of saying that God is the one who loves. Therefore, life is greater than both coincidences and predestination. Life is a history, a story, a drama, in which God appears in creation – to quote Roland – “as a ‘humble omnipotence’ who thinks more of others than Godself”. And he continues:

God creates space for the existence of others. This is reinforced in Jesus Christ, which is the foremost manifestation of God’s being. If God’s power meets man as a servant who gives his life for the redemption of all, then this means a revolution in humanity’s way of thinking about God and power. (Om Gud och allt annat, p 119)

The contingency of life. Our life story. God’s “humble omnipotence”. Strange! Surprising! Hopeful!

And with this quote, we are back where we started: Roland’s long-awaited book is coming soon! Watch out!

PS: It may not come as a surprise, but because of the pandemic, there will be no book release as it was intended on May 24. But it might come something else … DS

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