The Slippery Nature of Suffering: How Do We Decide What Makes Suffering Unbearable?

In Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver, young Jonas knows nothing—absolutely nothing—about pain and suffering until after his twelfth birthday. Jonas’s community (which exists in a post-apocalyptic future) is safe and efficient. Not only do the community’s residents not experience pain and suffering due to warfare, illness or disability, unemployment, family discord, or any other cause, [Read More…]

What Shane Claiborne (& Mother Teresa!) Got Wrong: On Being the Body of Christ with Imperfect Bodies

Last spring, I heard a terrific talk from Shane Claiborne at the Festival of Faith & Writing. Claiborne, a prominent voice in progressive Christian circles, lives in Philadelphia’s inner city, where he and the other inhabitants of the Simple Way community practice a “new monasticism.” They value hospitality and communal living, seek to build relationships [Read More…]

God, Gratitude and Suffering: The Basics

On this day in which we remember another September 11—a day on which too many people had to ask that terrible question, “Why?” “Why me?” “Why him or her?” “Why us?”—a few thoughts on the nature of suffering and gratitude. 1. Scripture advises us to be grateful in all things, not for all things. From [Read More…]

Do I Hate My Life? No. But I Do Hate My Disability.

Thomas, a reader who has the same bone disorder I do (osteogenesis imperfecta, or OI) commented on my contention in Friday’s post that I hate OI. Thomas wrote, “It’s really hard to read this and not feel sad for you…To me hating an almost immutable element about one’s body is kind of living with perpetual [Read More…]