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Archive for the ‘Suffering’ Category

Flannery O’Connor once described the “liberal” mindset (which is of course anything but liberal) to Cecil Dawkins in a letter written in 1958:

The Liberal approach is that man has never fallen, never incurred guilt, and is ultimately perfectible by his own unaided efforts. Therefore, evil in this light is a problem of better housing, sanitation, health, etc. and all mysteries will eventually be cleared up. Judgement is out of place because man is not responsible.

Modern liberalism produces not compassion but sentimentalism, not mercy but cruelty walking around with sandwich boards that say “mercy.” It is a mindset that talks of love and tenderness but ends up loving no one and nothing but death. Its logical end is tyranny and terror. (more…)

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Eugene Peterson in his book Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, makes an interesting observation about the fact that Lamentations is written in the form of an acrostic poem. Peterson observes that the acrostic form (as it goes through the Hebrew alphabet) both organizes and puts limits upon grief and suffering:

“In such ways does the acrostic function: it organizes grief, patiently going over the ground, step by step, insisting on the significance of each detail of suffering. . . . Arranged in the acrostic structure the suffering no longer obsesses, no longer controls. . . it makes certain that nothing is left out, but it also, just as certainly, puts limits upon the repetitions. If there is a beginning to evil, there is also an end to it.” (p. 122)

The form of Jeremiah’s lament shows “a pastoral style.” There is full sympathy for the terrible suffering being endured and yet, the structure insists upon a termination to the time of grief. It reminds us that sorrow and suffering are not endless: (more…)

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