It is a peculiarly twentieth-century story, and it is almost too awful to tell: about a boy of twelve or thirteen who, in a fit of crazy anger and depression, got hold of a gun somewhere and fired it at his father, who died not right away but soon afterward. When the authorities asked the boy why he had done it, he said that it was because he could not stand his father, because his father demanded too much of him, because he was always after him, because he hated his father. And then later on, after he had been placed in a house of detention somewhere, a guard was walking down the corridor late one night when he heard sounds from the boy’s room, and he stopped to listen. The words that he heard the boy sobbing out in the dark were, “I want my father, I want my father.”
Buechner says that this story is “a kind of parable of the lives of all of us.” Modern society is like that boy in the house of detention. We have killed off our Father. Few thinkers or writers or moviemakers or television producers take God seriously anymore. He’s an anachronism, something we’ve outgrown. The modern world has accepted The Wager and bet against God. There are too many unanswered questions. He has disappointed us once too often.
It is a hard thing to live, uncertain of anything. And yet, sobs can still be heard, muffled cries of loss, such as those expressed in literature and film and almost all modern art. The alternative to disappointment with God seems to be disappointment without God. (“The center of me,” said Bertrand Russell, “is always and eternally a terrible pain—a curious wild pain—a searching for something beyond what the world contains.”)
I see that sense of loss in the eyes of my friend Richard, even now. He says he does not believe in God, but he keeps bringing up the subject, protesting too loudly. From where comes this wounded sense of betrayal if no one is there to do the betraying? — Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud (Philip Yancey)