Featured Reviews, VOLUME 5

Eleonore Stump – Wandering in Darkness [Review Essay]

Page 4: Eleonore Stump – Wandering in Darkness

This book is a truly remarkable achievement. Stump encounters the problem of suffering, with all of its weightiness and offers a defense of God that would satisfy the need of the analytical philosopher to have an actual answer while siding with the poet who says that the answer cannot be contained within logical axioms, but can only be lived within and recognized. It can be seen, but not spoken. Stump’s writing is rigorous and careful. This book is not a light, nor an easy read. As such, this is not the book that should be given to someone who is experiencing great suffering. Rather, this is a book that should be read by those who speak with, write for, and preach to those who experience great suffering.

Stump argues that if human suffering, in all its varied manifestations within this world can be redeemed, if not eliminated, within a second-person encounter in this temporal world, then that might count as evidence that all suffering can be redeemed in light of the eternity of God. In the midst of the suffering of this world, it is hard to believe this, though. The stories, biblical and otherwise, of redeemed suffering within the world serve as hopeful signs to a greater and eternal redemption of all suffering. They are hopeful signs, but, by their nature as second-person narratives, they are not logically undeniable assurances of that redeemed future. Here one thinks of the poem from which she derived the title of this magisterial work. It was written by an anonymous inmate of Auschwitz where it was found on a wall.

There is grace, though,

and wonder, on the way.

Only they are hard to see,

hard to embrace, for

those compelled to

wander in darkness.

— ——

Stephen Lawson is a member of Hopwood Christian Church in Johnson City, Tennessee where he also attends Emmanuel Christian Seminary. He blogs at stephenlawson.wordpress.com

[1] Johann Baptist Metz, A Passion for God: The Mystical-Political Dimension of Christianity, trans. J. Matthew Ashley (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist), 55.

[2] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, Updated edition, (New York: Touchstone, 1997)  343.

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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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