Amy at Texas Faith: How should we suffer?

Texas Faith: How should we suffer?

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The Lenten season is closing now in Holy Week. It comes around each year to remind Christians of Christ’s suffering and the suffering that we all endure in life. But, of course, the question of suffering extends to all faiths and is experienced by people regardless of religion.

David Brooks wrote recently in the New York Times that, in a culture chasing happiness, it is suffering, and suffering well, that truly defines us.

We suffer, and people suffer around us, in so many different ways. Some of it is widespread, the suffering of whole societies under war. Some of it is deeply personal, the death of a loved one or a divorce or a financial collapse. Whatever the circumstance, suffering can be profound.

How can faith sustain us through suffering and how should suffering inform our faith? Is suffering essential to being whole as a human? And what does it mean to accept suffering rather than reject it?

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AMY MARTIN, executive director, Earth Rhythms; writer/editor, Moonlady Media
Brooks speaks eloquently about a specific type of suffering: white people’s problems, or more specifically, affluent white people’s problems. Is the African pre-teen whose clitoris is cut from her body without anesthesia ennobled by her suffering? How about the poor migrant whose liver fails after a lifetime of picking pesticide-laden crops? For them, suffering does not “drag you deeper into yourself.” It grinds them into rubble and often kills them. They don’t feel “holiness.” They feel pain.

“Is it a war we are fighting, a war against health, against life and love? My condition is a torn condition. Every day, the dispensing of existence. I see the face of suffering. Its face is fierce and distant and ancient,” said Martin Amis in Time’s Arrow. Week after week, moral hypocrites in Washington, D.C. fight the Affordable Care Act that has already reduced the suffering of thousands. And then they go to church.

What does my faith, Taoism, say about suffering? Stop inflicting it.