Where is God to be found in suffering? An examination of literature as theology
Sydney College of Divinity
Dr Hopper would like to consider the question of where God is to be found in suffering. At the onset of the pandemic, her daughter was diagnosed with MS. Because of COVID, Belinda was the only visitor allowed at the hospital. The pressing issues for her became: where was I to find spiritual sustenance to sustain myself and my daughter in her grief; how to assure her that God was present in her pain, and where to find hope that the Lord was working all things for her good.
Emails from church were perfunctory, detailing the transition to online church, and the processes of booking online to attend church in person. They detailed instructions about which gate to enter, how to sign in, and where the hand-sanitizer would be. The focus was on keeping church “open for business”, as one minister announced in their debut online service. There was nothing to acknowledge the grief that the world was in the grip of a deadly virus. Church communication spent no time lamenting that the body of Christ had to face this crisis physically dislocated. There was no ministering from a distance, to assuage the anxious hearts of congregants, fearful of the unknown. In times of uncertainty, we find comfort in the familiar. Belinda found herself re-reading favourite passages of Marilynne Robinson’s prize-winning novel, Gilead, where Reverend Ames reflects on living through the Spanish Influenza a hundred years earlier. Only in reading literature as theology, seeing the protagonist reflect on the lessons learned in his lifetime, facing a pandemic of an earlier century, was Belinda assured that the Lord is still sovereign over the chaos.
In this paper, Belinda would like to explore the benefits of reading literature as theology and what literature has to teach us about where God is in our suffering.
Theologising in the Shadow of a Pandemic
- Bushfires, Pandemic and Kenosis
- Dangerous Bodies and Scandalous Touch: Reading Gospel Impurity Stories in the Time of Pandemic
- When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a (browser) window: Online church as a means of fostering inclusion for people with disabilities and mental health challenges
- Union with Christ in Preaching during COVID-19: A qualitative research project
- COVID, Creation, and Chaos: The Priestly understanding of Sabbath and its application to the Pandemic
- Pandemic, Anthropocentrism, and the Problem of Evil
- The Theology of Otherness in the Shadow of a Pandemic – Pastoral theology in the process of Christian formation, resilience, and well-being, using EQ-self & EQ-others
- ‘Sorry...We’re CLOSED’: Thinking Sacramentally about the Challenges of COVID-19 on Church Closures and the Sacraments
- Embracing our Contingency: A Response to COVID-19
- Theologizing in the Shadow of the Pandemic: Insights from Catholic Social Teaching
- Economic Theodicy
- Liturgical Emotions in the Shadow of the Pandemic: The Justinianic Plague and COVID-19 in Counterpoint