Archives For Suffering


[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”0870612964″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”216″]The Deep Waters of Suffering

A Review of 

The Mystery of Suffering
Hubert van Zeller

Paperback: Ave Maria Press, 2015
Buy now:  [ [easyazon_link identifier=”0870612964″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ]  [  [easyazon_link identifier=”B013RATJ3I” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]
Reviewed by Charlotte Donlon
I have been a member of a Reformed, Protestant church since I became a Christian twenty years ago, but I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and the wisdom I’ve gleaned from other Christian traditions. Ever since I was introduced to Benedictine spirituality in Kathleen Norris’ The Cloister Walk, I have sought out others who write from a similar perspective. Benedictine monks’ commitment to praying the Psalms and practicing lectio divina, silence, and solitude appealed to me as a young mother of two small children, and it continues to appeal to me now ten years later. In a world that largely discourages a contemplative lifestyle in favor of busyness and achievement, the Benedictines have taught me how to rest and receive.

So it was with a sense of appreciation and expectation that I approached The Mystery of Suffering by Benedictine monk and sculptor Hubert van Zeller. This book was originally published in 1964 as Suffering in Other Words: A Presentation for Beginners. It was re-released and published with the new title in September of 2015.

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[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0310339820″ locale=”us” height=”333″ src=”” width=”190″ alt=”Philip Yancey” ]God is on the Side of the Sufferer

A Feature Review of

The Question that Never Goes Away

Philip Yancey

Hardback: Zondervan, 2014
Buy now:  [ [easyazon-link asin=”0310339820″ locale=”us”]Amazon[/easyazon-link] ]  [ [easyazon-link asin=”B00EH3IBOI” locale=”us”]Kindle[/easyazon-link] ]

Reviewed by Julie Lane-Gay.
It only takes a glance at the New York Times to remind us that tragedies happen frequently.  Even on days without plane crashes and bus station bombings, we see accounts of children killed in war and actor’s suicides.  Some of us find ourselves asking God almost daily, “Why did you let this happen?”
Philip Yancey’s slim new volume, The Question that Never Goes Away, is his answer, written after spending countless hours alongside those directly affected by Japan’s 2011 earthquake, the Civil war in the Balkans and Connecticut’s Sandy Hook School Massacre. If ever there were people to speak credibly about the “Why?” questions, and a scrupulously truthful writer to record their answers, these are they.

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Eleonore Stump - Wandering in DarknessAll Manner of Things Shall Be Well

A Review Essay of

Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering

Eleonore Stump

Hardback: Oxford University Press, 2010. 668 pages.
Buy now from:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Stephen Lawson

How can the classical Christian affirmation of God’s goodness be reconciled with the undeniable and pervasive presence of suffering within the creation over which God is supposedly sovereign? This is a difficult question, but one that cannot be ignored, especially by those who claim to be doing Christian theology or proclaiming Christian truth. Indeed, the theologian Johann Baptist Metz once said that the problem of suffering, “is the question for theology.”[1] Unfortunately many Christians (and not a few of them theologians) are uncomfortable considering this question. Many ignore it, thinking that silence is the best defense against this embarrassing Achilles’ heel of faith. Others answer the question with theological platitudes that sound oddly reminiscent of responses the friends of Job have to his unwarranted and seemingly indefensible suffering. Those posing the question, like Job himself, remain unappeased by these answers. The truth of the matter is if Christians are unable or ill-equipped to respond to this, the greatest of all faith questions, then the Christian has little to offer to a world rife with suffering. It is for this reason that we should be so grateful to Eleanor Stump for her help in equipping us to respond to this question with her remarkable book, Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering.

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A Review of

Passion of Christ, Passion of the World.
Leonardo Boff.
New Edition.
Paperback: Orbis Books, 2011.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

With Holy Week almost upon us again, the time of the church year in which we pause to remember the arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus, I decided to read through Orbis Books’ new edition of Leonardo Boff’s book Passion of Christ, Passion of the World.  For those who are not familiar with Boff’s work, he is one of the main figures in the liberation theology movement, and certainly the best-known Brazilian liberation theologian.  I have previously read several of his other books, but had not read this one, so this seemed like a fitting time to do so.

Passion of Christ, Passion of the World is a challenging read in many regards.  One needs to proceed slowly through it, digesting as she goes.  Although Boff’s writing style tends toward the academic, the content of what he is saying offers a much steeper challenge than the way in which it is written.  The essence of Boff’s argument is that we are called to follow Christ in entering into the suffering of the world.  However, in the U.S. where not only is suffering foreign to us, but where we also go to extraordinary lengths to avoid suffering (and to cover up our own sufferings), how are we even to begin to make sense of Boff’s work?  Our religious approaches here in the U.S. to the suffering and death of Christ, often serve to conceal the many ways in which our lifestyles subject others around the globe to suffering and death.  To quote Boff:

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“Given Realities of Our Fallen World

A Review of

Hard Times Come Again No More:
Suffering and Hope

By Alex Joyner.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Hard Times Come Again No More:
Suffering and Hope

Alex Joyner.

Paperback: Abingdon, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

The length of our days is seventy years—
or eighty, if we have the strength;
yet their span is but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

Ps. 90:10 NIV

[ Listen to Mavis Staples’s moving rendition of the title song… ]

The story of the fall in Genesis 3 reminds us that life will be difficult and painful in our fallen world.  This reality is one that for many decades we in the United States have found ways to suppress or to outsource to other parts of the globe.  Our labor-saving devices often do save us labor, but are we storing up even greater trouble for our children and grandchildren in the ecological consequences of generating the energy that these machines require?  We are too busy to make (or to learn how to make) our clothes and basic household items, so we search the globe for cheap goods made by people who are willing to do this sort of labor, often in substandard conditions.  Similarly, we buy all manner of processed foods that we do not know where they come from and that are filled with all sorts of substances whose effects on our bodies are questionable at best, and in some instances likely harmful.  Additionally, we face the massive, yet underexplored, emotional crisis created by our alienation from the land and from other humans, as we find ourselves interacting less and less with humans and more and more with machines and other technologies.  It is amidst crises of this sort, obesity, sweatshop labor, global warming, etc. – crises that very much have their roots in our avoidance of the pain and monotony of labor – that Alex Joyner has written his lovely new book Hard Times Come Again No More: Suffering And Hope.

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In our continuing effort to fund the publication and free distribution of The Englewood Review, we are going to be collaborating more intentionally with Christian Book Distributors. Primarily, we will be offering you the opportunity to buy bargain books from CBD that we think of are interest. Buying books this way is a win / win / win proposition. You get great books for a great price, CBD gets the sale and we get an excellent referral fee from CBD.

This week’s bargain books (Click to learn more/purchase):

Three books for Lent:

031613: The Story of the Christ The Story of the Christ

By Scot McKnight / Baker

$1.99 – Save 85%!!!

For two thousand years the figure of Jesus has been the most powerful and pervasive influence on Western culture, not only in religion and ethics but also in politics, literature, music, and the visual arts. This book features insights from Scot McKnight, author of the bestselling book The Jesus Creed. McKnight’s compelling introduction provides helpful background information on the sources of our information (the Gospels), the religious setting of Jesus’ life, the heart of Jesus’ teaching, and a summation of what kind of person Jesus was. The book then offers a continuous narrative account of the life and words of Jesus, woven together from the four canonical Gospels. All who seek to know more about Jesus and his message for people today will enjoy this book.

34550: Clothed in Nothingness: Consolation for Suffering Clothed in Nothingness: Consolation for Suffering

By Leonard M. Hummel / Augsburg Fortress

$1.99 – Save 90%!!!

Where is God when one suffers? How may one be consoled? How do people understand their religious beliefs in relation to suffering? When they encounter genuine travail, do their religious convictions come into play? How are they modified or asserted? Leonard Hummel takes three of the most important insights of the Reformation–the doctrine of justification, the theology of the Cross, and the priesthood of believers–to see how they have been reappropriated by Christians in contemporary pastoral settings. He examines the theology of consolation as formulated in the early Lutheran tradition and as practiced by Lutherans. He describes the “religious coping” of six believers who have suffered personal or social ills and how their capacity to cope was enhanced or affected by their belief. These vivid case studies are then used to illuminate how pastoral theology and caregivers might bring traditional theological beliefs into a distinctive “lived theology.”

731131: Story: Recapture the Mystery Story: Recapture the Mystery

By Steven James / Baker

$7.49 – Save 50%!!!

Using the power of imagery and the drama of narrative, Steven leads you through a journey into the mystery of faith. From creation to Christ’s birth, from his first miracle to eternity and everything in between, you will see familiar scenes from the Bible like you never have before. They will wake you up spiritually. They will re-inspire your faith journey. They will jolt you into action.


“Spiritual Canticle”
(Stanzas XXIV-XL)
St. John of the Cross

Our bed is of flowers
By dens of lions encompassed,
Hung with purple,
Made in peace,
And crowned with a thousand shields of gold.

In Your footsteps
The young ones run Your way;
At the touch of the fire
And by the spiced wine,
The divine balsam flows.

In the inner cellar
Of my Beloved have I drunk; and when I went forth
Over all the plain
I knew nothing,
And lost the flock I followed before.

There He gave me His breasts,
There He taught me the science full of sweetness.
And there I gave to Him
Myself without reserve;
There I promised to be His bride.

My soul is occupied,
And all my substance in His service;
Now I guard no flock,
Nor have I any other employment:
My sole occupation is love.

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“Spiritual Canticle”
(Stanzas XIII-XXIII)
St. John of the Cross



Return, My Dove!
The wounded hart
Looms on the hill
In the air of your flight and is refreshed.

My Beloved is the mountains,
The solitary wooded valleys,
The strange islands,
The roaring torrents,
The whisper of the amorous gales;

The tranquil night
At the approaches of the dawn,
The silent music,
The murmuring solitude,
The supper which revives, and enkindles love.

Catch us the foxes,
For our vineyard has flourished;
While of roses
We make a nosegay,
And let no one appear on the hill.

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“Spiritual Canticle”
(Stanzas I-XIII)
St. John of the Cross

Where have You hidden Yourself,
And abandoned me in my groaning, O my Beloved?
You have fled like the hart,
Having wounded me.
I ran after You, crying; but You were gone.

O shepherds, you who go
Through the sheepcots up the hill,
If you shall see Him
Whom I love the most,
Tell Him I languish, suffer, and die.

In search of my Love
I will go over mountains and strands;
I will gather no flowers,
I will fear no wild beasts;
And pass by the mighty and the frontiers.

O groves and thickets
Planted by the hand of the Beloved;
O verdant meads
Enameled with flowers,
Tell me, has He passed by you?

A thousand graces diffusing
He passed through the groves in haste,
And merely regarding them
As He passed
Clothed them with His beauty.

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A Christmas Carol For 1862,
The Year Of The Trouble In Lancashire
George MacDonald

[ Amazing how relevant this poem is
almost 150 years later… ed. ]

The skies are pale, the trees are stiff,
The earth is dull and old;
The frost is glittering as if
The very sun were cold.
And hunger fell is joined with frost,
To make men thin and wan:
Come, babe, from heaven, or we are lost;
Be born, O child of man.

The children cry, the women shake,
The strong men stare about;
They sleep when they should be awake,
They wake ere night is out.
For they have lost their heritage—
No sweat is on their brow:
Come, babe, and bring them work and wage;
Be born, and save us now.

Across the sea, beyond our sight,
Roars on the fierce debate;
The men go down in bloody fight,
The women weep and hate;
And in the right be which that may,
Surely the strife is long!
Come, son of man, thy righteous way,
And right will have no wrong.
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