on suffering | AJ Mitchell, Jenn Johnson, & Brian Williams

on suffering | AJ Mitchell, Jenn Johnson, & Brian Williams December 5, 2021

How do people in the arts speak to suffering? This is a topic found in the Bible and often spoken of by Christian scholars. However, there may be more on the topic in the arts than we expect.

I’m sharing what I have from last week. I jot down a few things to share on social networks. Sometimes by the end of the week, I realize I’ve covered quite a bit of ground so I offer some of the thoughts on Patheos.

The only distinct theme last week is perhaps suffering. Mitchell unveils a suffering relationship. Johnson talks about the suffering of Job. Williams shares about the very depths of Hell from the classic work by Dante. Although suffering could be a unifying theme, in each of the three videos, there is hope for rescue or change.

suffering in marriage vs. speaking to the issues

To a certain extent all couples have fair fighting rules, and experience a good tiff now and then.

However, I am not sure this is the premise of the song. The fight and the making up seem to be the bond keeping the relationship together. At least one person is speaking up for change… and the vocals are tremendous!

Elihu gives Job perspective on his suffering

Someone asked, “Have you heard of Bethel Redding?” in Wednesday night Bible study. She talked about their Open Heavens conferences each October. She said she’s been there.

So I looked up Open Heavens and found this gem. Jenn Johnson is speaking, and as she wraps up, she introduces a new song with Chris Quilala. Chris was with the old-school Bethel Redding group that went on to become Jesus Culture. He has also done his own album. You’ll also see Dante Bowe, Brian Johnson, and other All-Stars on stage.

It’s a great Word by Jenn, and beautiful song with Chris. I’m not Elihu or Job, but I’m ready to speak into a transition, experience it, or both!

It’s been so long since I’ve been there that I’m forgetting what driving into town is like. I haven’t got to go to Bethel Redding yet or to Open Heavens. I have co-taught a marriage and family evening event at another church in town.

The lady at Bible study said Open Heavens is so large they have to use the Civic Center, but they still have to limit the seats

Dante’s understanding of suffering in the afterlife

Join the largest Dante reading group in history. We’ve been journeying through the various layers of Inferno (Hell). We are crossing into Purgatorio (Purgatory) in this Canto (chapter).

Before my Evangelical friends dismiss Dante’s work because of Purgatory, please know that many Evangelical scholars have interpreted this part of Dante’s work as a form of ongoing sanctification. For those who are from a little more Reformed Theology stream, it may interest you to know that in Dante’s Purgatory, everyone eventually makes it to Heaven (Paradisio).

However, this is the lowest level of Hell and the crossover into Purgatory. Dante and his guide Virgil actually interact with Dante’s depiction of the devil himself.

Brian A. Williams, D.Phil., sets this Canto up masterfully, also the end of the book the Inferno, as well as the point of crossing over into Purgatory. Brian is the Dean and Assistant Professor of Ethics and Liberal Studies at the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University. Interestingly, my counseling Supervisor knows the previous Dean of the Honors program, the very same school.

There is plenty of time to catch up. I love these pieces for each Canto, explaining what we are about to read. If you binge watch these and read, the group believes you can easily catch up over the course of 1 weekend. Also, this is a good place to join if you only want to go on from Purgatory to Paradise.

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