Synopses & Reviews
The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering, but a supernatural use for it. -Simone Weil
Like most people I, too, have been blindsided by personal grief now and again over the years. And I have an increasingly keen sense that, wherever I am, someone nearby is suffering now.
For that reason, I lately have settled in to mull the matter over, gathering my troubled wits to undertake a difficult essay, more like what we used to call an assay, really--an earnest inquiry. I am thinking of it just now as a study in suffering, by which I hope to find some sense in affliction, hoping--just as I have come to hope about experience in general--to make something of it.
Is there meaning in our afflictions?
With the thoughtfulness of a pilgrim and the prose of a poet, Scott Cairns takes us on a soul-baring journey through the puzzlement of our afflictions. Probing ancient Christian wisdom for revelation in his own pain, Cairns challenges us toward a radical revision of the full meaning and breadth of human suffering.
Clear-eyed and unsparingly honest, this new addition to the literature of suffering is reminiscent of The Year of Magical Thinking as well as the works of C. S. Lewis. Cairns points us toward hope in the seasons of our afflictions, because in those trials in our lives that we do not choose but press through--a stillness, a calm, and a hope become available to us.
This beautiful, small, book is a thoughtful inquiry through which Scott Cairns hopes to come to terms with what he calls the puzzlement of our afflictions. Drawing upon personal experience and a compelling range of early Christian traditions, Cairns offers the fruit of his pondering of suffering--his own, yours, ours.
In doing so, he assembles witnesses--poets, prophets, and a gathering of wise men and women spanning centuries and cultures. Their insight will challenge and help you to appreciate the radical revision of human experience that Christ has established. Given affliction's generous availability, and given the wide but so-far-unsatisfying range of apologia that the nagging enigma of our human suffering has provoked over the years, I thought I might press ahead for a somewhat more satisfying glimpse of why it is we suffer, and why it is that some of us--even among the apparently innocent--appear to suffer far more than others.
The central argument of The End of Suffering is most directly addressed by Simone Weil's affirmation that The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering, but a supernatural use for it.
Drawing upon personal experience and a compelling range of early Christian traditions and the writings of poets, prophets, and wise men and women, Cairns offers the fruit of his pondering of suffering and the supernatural use for it.