Saturday, June 04, 2011

Redemptive Suffering in Religion, Popular Culture and art


If I hear one more person on TV say, "God had to do this -- to my daughter/son, etc-- so I could turn back to Him," I'm gonna scream.

I actually heard Dominick Dunne say this about the murder of his daughter, Dominique Dunne.
Honestly, it p*sses me off!

What does it mean, that someone else's life was taken away and ruined because God wanted someone else saved? Okay, I can agree perhaps with the notion that when we see those we love suffer that we get to thinking about our own walk with God. But the Roman Catholic notion of redemptive suffering goes way overboard. First of all, it's too much about the person who was "meant to be saved" and too little about the wounded person. Honestly, so the life of the suffering child, the murdered child, is nada compared to the life of the person God wanted to save? What the heck is that about?

I once snapped at a Roman Catholic priest who said, "Well, your child is your burden, a blessing that God has given you?"
"You're offending me," I said. "You don't seem to realize my son is a being created by God, loved by God, with duties of his own to do in this world, with dreams of his own. This is NOT about me!"

I remember a Japanese writer who was suicidal. His wife gave to a son with a severe disability. Because of his son, he wanted to live again...to love his son, to take care of his son, to find meaning in his life. Sure, there was something redemptive in that..but I doubt God did that. (Of course I could be totally wrong about this but who knows? It just bothers the heck outta me and I can't see it.)

Got this from wikipedia:

 Redemptive suffering is the Roman Catholic belief that human suffering, when accepted and offered up in union with the Passion of Jesus, can remit the just punishment for one's sins or for the sins of another. Like an indulgence, redemptive suffering does not gain the individual forgiveness for their sin; forgiveness results from God’s grace, freely given through Christ, which cannot be earned. After one's sins are forgiven, the individual's suffering can reduce the penalty due for sin.

Then there is the idea that the only way we can grow in God is by suffering.

Of course the flaggelants who whipped themselves for their sins and the sins of the world believed this stuff. And many (mercifully not all) Catholic priests and nuns believe they are living redemptively for the sins of others. So annoying when one meets a priest like this! So arrogant in their holiness.

But when one sees some woman on Oprah saying that God murdered her daughter and that everything happens for a reason and that God is loving and she has grown...well it just makes me want to gag. To gag at the woman's attempt to honor God by saying such stupidity in front of a national audience. To gag that this is the comfort the woman has learned from her suffering.

And when this crap appears in a book?????????????? AAAAAAArgh! I just want to scream. (Yes, I scream a lot when I watch tv and read books!)

I have to go weed the garden and I haven't quite figured out my theology on suffering but I know the only true redemptive suffering is Jesus' suffering for our redemption. I so wish these weeds could be as easily thrown out of the theological garden as weeds could be uprooted from my garden. Lord, help us all to think clearly!

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