Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Dorothee Sölle draws on Simone Weil’s philosophy to explore the phenomenon of suffering as “affliction,” involving three distinct dimensions. First is physical pain, but this is the least, because once it is gone, it is as if it never occurred. Second is psychological pain, the sense of being poured out, empty, or numbed and imprisoned by pain. These two dimensions alone do not rise to the level of affliction, however, without the third pole, social degradation, in which the sufferer is abandoned or worse, ridiculed, blamed, and despised for one’s suffering state. According to Sölle, Christianity’s response too often has been a type of theological sadism.God comes to a sufferer only with pedagogical intent. Brutality and salvation become brothers, suffering serves to teach obedience and there is a perfect alliance between repressive theism and repressive society.
Sölle traces three possible interpretations of the suffering in the story of Abraham and the (near) sacrifice of Issac: First, God takes delight in annihilation; second, religious devotion requires obedience up to the sacrifice of one’s life; or third, the story writer is attempting to overcome the idea that God may be pleased with human sacrifice.
Ironically, at the same time, Christians in society assiduously avoid suffering, and therefore people become increasingly insensitive and indifferent to the suffering of others.People stand before suffering like those who are...
(The entire section is 882 words.)
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