On Suffering cover

On Suffering: An Inter-disciplinary Dialogue on Narrative and the Meaning of Suffering

edited by Nate Hinerman and Matthew Lewis Sutton

Why do we suffer? Can there be any meaning to suffering? If so, how and in what contexts? This interdisciplinary volume explores the place of narrative in efforts to “make sense of” suffering, and investigates two fundamental positions: embracing a meta-narrative to frame the suffering, or denying the potency of a meta-narrative to address the concrete circumstances that give rise to suffering (or maintain it).

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In this book, a diverse array of scholars agree that discussions of suffering must move beyond mere academic postulations that assert suffering as a phenomenological “given,” an experience so naturally inherent that no human response can augment fundamentally its impact. Such approaches too often render apathetic responses to real human tragedies. The authors here explore both the inward experience of suffering, the myriad causes of suffering, and how, in some cases, such suffering can be articulated, understood, and even overcome. Here, the dialogue becomes a debate between those embracing a meta-narrative to frame the experience of suffering, and those promoting personal narratives amid concrete historical circumstances as the key to any effort to “make sense of” suffering.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction - Nate Hinerman and Matthew Lewis Sutton

SECTION 1: Personal Narrative and Making Sense of Suffering

  • The Music, Art and Ethics of Suffering - Raymond De Vries
  • Blues and Healing: ‘When You’re Sick Child, Oh Sometimes It Makes You Well’ - John Rapson
  • Regarding Suffering: An Artist’s Reflections on the Perception of Suffering in Painting - Tim Lowly
  • Metaphysical Suffering, Metaphysics as Therapy - Amber D. Carpenter
  • Suffering in Silence: Emmanuel Levinas and Jean-Luc Marion on Suffering, Understanding and Language - Rashmika Pandya
  • Ethical Challenges When Reading Aesthetic Rape Scenes - Emy Koopman
  • Research on Curative Speech Acts Observed through a Long-Term Initiative Involving Young Cancer Patients and Grieving Parents in São Paulo, Brazil - Tatiana Piccardi
  • Suffering that Slips through Rhetorical Gaps: Colson Whitehead’s John Henry Days - Bev Hogue

SECTION 2: Communal Meta-Narrative and Making Sense of Suffering

  • From Suffering to Hope and Faith: The Pragmatic Value of ‘Inspirational Literature’ - Madhavi Gokhale and Milind Malshe
  • Remembering to Forget: Memory and Suffering in 137 Mansfield Park - Colleen Weir
  • The Question of Suffering Confronted by Evolutionary Theology - Andrzej Dańczak
  • Does God Suffer? Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Theology of Holy Saturday - Matthew Lewis Sutton
  • What is Sacrifice For? The Structure of Sacrifice in Jan Patočka’s Phenomenology - Anna Sugiyama
  • Making Sense of Verdun: Photography and Emotions During the First World War in France - Beatriz Pichel
  • The Mysterious Ways of Suffering: A Reading of C. S. Lewis Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold - Maria Luísa Franco de Oliveira Falcão