Suffering and God

(2016/3) Editor(s): Luiz-Carlos Susin(c), Solange Lefebvre, Daniel F. Pilario, Diego Irrarazaval
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Articles of the issue

Table of Contents 2016/3 - Suffering and God

Edited By : Luiz Carlos Susin (c), Solange Lefebvre, Daniel Franklin Pilario, Diego Irarrazaval

Part one: Suffering in our World

Love Rages and Weeps: Suffering and Holy Possibility – Pamela R. McCarroll

On Suffering: The Event of Many Forms – David Tracy

The Way of Suffering: the Challenge of Matching Up – Guy-Robert ST-Arnaud

Manipulating the Suffering of Others – Alberto Da Silva Moreira

Part Two: Biblical Reflection

Suffering in Ecclesiastes: ‘this too is hével!’ – Cássio Murilo Dias Da Silva

Suffering and the Empowering Grace of the Lord – Victor Nicdao

Part Three: Theological Investigations and Pastoral Care

The Suffering of God in some Contemporary Theologies – Maria Clara Bingemer

Rethinking Theodicy: the Dilemma of Epicurus and the Myth of the World-Without-Evil – Andrés Torres Queiruga

The Enigma of Freedom – Joᾶo Vila-Chᾶ

God, Where Art Thou?: Respecting and Taking care of the Suffering Body and Soul – Jean-Guy Nadeau

Part Four: Theological Forum

The 2017 Reformation Jubilee – André Bilermé

Aparecida: the House of the Mother of God and the Brazilian People – José Oscar Beozzo

Political Challenges of the Paris Climate Agreement – Marcos Arruda

Love Rages and Weeps: Suffering and Holy Possibility

Pamela R. McCarroll

Abstract

The article opens with a narrative of one woman whose husband, José Eduardo López, was twice abducted and tortured and eventually became one of the disappeared of Honduras. The article reflects on the narrative through trauma theory, theodicy and the work of several theologians to explore the inner landscape of suffering and holy possibility as it is known in lived human experience.

On Suffering: The Event of Many Forms

David Tracy

Abstract

Five central realities about the event of suffering are to be affirmed:  its inescapability, its being contextualized by human happiness; its basis in analogy, univocity or equivocity; its relationship to a compassionate God; its multiple causes.  The question of suffering has overtaken the question of evil in importance for our time.  The cross as the central symbol of Christianity both scandalizes and points to a hidden God responding to both evil and suffering among us.

The Way of Suffering: the Challenge of Matching Up

Guy-Robert St-Arnaud

Abstract

From a psycho-analytic perspective, desire is rooted in physical sensation. The following reflections are made from that standpoint, and consider first the concepts of pain and of suffering in relation to desire and sensation, then consider the universe of the Bible.

Manipulating the Suffering of Others

Alberto da Silva Moreira

Abstract

This article points out and analyzes some specific forms of suffering imposed on people by the economic system, by ideologies, by the corporations, the media and also by churches and religious institutions. How does capitalist society deal with the suffering it causes to human beings? How do operate these social agents to take advantage, manipulate and justify the suffering they cause? The article analyzes the concepts of structural sin and the victim. Suffering and evil are embedded in everyday automatism; they flourish because of indifference, lack of sensitivity and solidarity. For Christians the only acceptable suffering should be that one, which is freely assumed when we fight against concrete forms of suffering.

Suffering in Ecclesiastes: ‘this too is hével!’

Cássio Murilo Dias da Silva

Abstract

This article systematically addresses the theme of suffering in the Book of Ecclesiastes, known in the Hebrew Bible as the Book of Koholet. A panoramic overview of the various possibilities of suffering allows a level of systemisation in the treatment of the Koholet’s treatment of suffering and the meaning that he sees, (does not see), in the misfortunes of life. Koholet’s perspective is completely dominated by what he calls hével, the void, the illusion, the absence of meaning. Human suffering cannot be explained through the simplicity of retribution theology. In fact, it defies with this uncompromising assertion, Koholet is left with a choice: a depressing existence as an eternal victim of destiny or to confront suffering as a human condition from which there is no escape. This article takes the stance that Koholet is inviting the reader not simply to give in but rather to find his own way forward in the midst of misfortune and anguish…since suffering is also hével.

Suffering and the Empowering Grace of the Lord

Victor S. Nicdao

Abstract

This article explores the reason for the positive disposition that Paul apparently exhibited with respect to his weakness and the sufferings that it entailed. He not only boasts of his weaknesses but even delights in them. He even makes a paradoxical declaration, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” The article argues that the key to unlocking the paradoxical relation of power and weakness in Paul’s existential statement and in understanding the resilience of Paul in the face of the many sufferings that he had to endure is the assurance of the dynamic grace of Christ. Paul is made to understand through the divine response to his prayer, the only recorded oratio recta of the Risen Christ in the whole Pauline literature, that the empowering grace of Christ remains present and operative in times of weakness.

The Suffering of God in some Contemporary Theologies

Maria Clara Bingemer

Abstract

Christian theology has constantly taken an interest in the question of suffering. I want to do so once more in the hope that my approach will help to deepen this reflection. My hypothesis concerns the identification of God with all victims of injustice and violence. I believe that developing this approach can benefit the theology of the God presented in Judaeo-Christian revelation. To this end this article looks at some contemporary theologies, European and Latin American. At the end I shall try to indicate some ways forward for reflection on this important theological question today.

Rethinking Theodicy: the Dilemma of Epicurus and the Myth of the World-Without-Evil

Andrés Torres Queiruga

Abstract

Suffering questions humanity and challenges religion: modernity converted it into the rock of atheism and provoked theodicy. But atheism and theodicy maintained unquestioningly the presupposed pre-modern of a world-without-evil, which makes both the atheist accusation and traditional theodicy inconsistent. To break down this prejudice allows the re-establishing of cultural coherence and elaborating a theodicy which recovers the heart of the biblical message: definitive hope in the face of suffering, God as Anti-evil.

The Enigma of Freedom

João J. Vila-Chã

Abstract

Starting from the thought of Luigi Pareyson, an important Italian thinker of the 20th century, the article offers some broad lines for a hermeneutical refelction on the human-divine dimension of freedom in terms of a theo-anthropological  undersanding of human life based on the necessary integration of what is meant by, on the one hand, the expereince of God and, on the other, the experience of suffering and evil. Paying serious attention to Pareyson’s ‘rash talk’, this article seeks to set out a hermeneutics of thinkin g based on the principle that, in the last resort, the human being’s ontological dignity is inseperable from the recognition of the radical proximity that exists between the ‘spiritual birth’ at the deepest crore of the human subject and the ‘eternal birth’ that corresponds to the very being, or life, of God.

God, Where Art Thou?: Respecting and Taking care of the Suffering Body and Soul

Jean-Guy Nadeau

Abstract

Those who are suffering  and in doubt about God’s goodness and love find few places where they can express their spiritual sorrow. Several struggle with contradictory images of God, and they often feel that God is on the side of those against them, rather than on their side. Others live the experience of the death of God in their heart and soul. Too many of the faithful feel alone with and threatened by their questions and doubts, unaware that the question of how God relates to evil and suffering has always had a place in theology/ Pastoral care is a privileged space enabling people to express and live their dramas with God, to work on their mourning for the God who saves, whom they have yet to experience.

Theological Forum

The 2017 Reformation Jubilee – André Bilermé

Aparecida: the House of the Mother of God and the Brazilian People – José Oscar Beozzo

Political Challenges of the Paris Climate Agreement – Marcos Arruda