Hauerwas on suffering

Last night in our wee church, we had a ‘Forum’ on ‘Playing God in Modern Medicine’, especially focused on end of life issues, led fantastically well by Dr Andy Neil. Thanks Andy.

Great discussion.Thought provoking. Disturbing. Unsettling. Hopeful.

As I’ve been reading through Mark, it’s hit me afresh that this is where Jesus leaves his disciples most of the time – and how a lot of modern Christianity can turn this around towards, sentimentality and easing discomfort. Which leads on to Stanley Hauerwas who contributed last night  (not in person) … here’s some of what he says on the issue of God and suffering:

Too often we expect medicine to get us out of life—alive. That’s not possible. And, that’s just not right. We subject ourselves to some terrible tyrannies!

… People really believe in humanity as the center of the universe. If we keep God around, it’s just as an insurance policy …  So you start asking questions like this one, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The assumption there is that we’re good people and we’re the very center of the universe, not God.

I don’t see how people who were brought up on the Psalms can think like that! The Psalms are extended training in recognition that God is God—and we are not. Suffering doesn’t need explanation. It needs our presence. It needs the presence of other human beings who are not afraid of the sufferer.

Our language as Christians oftentimes is shaped by sentimental presuppositions that are not disciplined by the gospels … Atheism is not our problem today. If only we can produce some interesting atheists, which we obviously can, then that’s not a problem at all. The big problem is we’re not interesting as believers. We’re sinking into the worst forms of boring and misguided sentimentality.


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