Re-Membering Redemption: Bearing Witness to the Transformation of Suffering
My subject is the redemption of profound suffering. I begin with the presumption that there is no suffering beyond the redemptive reach of God's grace. Drawing on insights from a number of academic disciplines, as well as on a wide variety of literary accounts of profound suffering, I consider the impact of the suffering of interpersonal violence on the formation of individual identity. I frame identity-formation in temporal terms, considering the impact of suffering in each temporal dimension: past, present, and future. In considering the past, I focus on the nature of memory, and argue that the memory of suffering resides in the body, soul, and mind, continually shaping the individual, and that a theological account of memory, therefore, cannot be reduced to cognitive recall. I also suggest that the integrity of the memory of suffering is often a casualty of suffering. In considering the present, I turn to an account of community which I argue is, likewise, an integral element of individual identity. I show the ways in which suffering, and the memory of suffering, continues to isolate those who have suffered. Next, I consider the future, and suggest that the anticipation of the future shapes both the memory of the past and the experience of the present. The memory of past suffering, I argue, threatens to obliterate the future in a way that can be devastating to present identity. I suggest that all three temporal dimensions are not only integral to identity but also embedded within one another. And I argue that, in light of the formative nature of suffering, the redemption of the individual necessarily includes the redemption of each temporal dimension. I suggest that there are specific ecclesial practices which develop habits of right vision, making this redemption evident such that the profound suffering of the past can be re-membered as a witness to God's redemption.
Works are deposited here by their authors, and represent their research and opinions, not that of Duke University. Some materials and descriptions may include offensive content. More info