End of Suffering: Finding Purpose in Pain [NOOK Book]

Overview

Received an Award of Merit from Christianity Today, 2009 and chosen as one of the Top 10 Religion Books of 2009 by Publishers Weekly

Is there meaning in our afflictions?

With the thoughtfulness of a pilgrim and the prose of a poet, Scott Cairns takes us on a soul-baring journey through "the puzzlement of ...
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End of Suffering: Finding Purpose in Pain

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Overview

Received an Award of Merit from Christianity Today, 2009 and chosen as one of the Top 10 Religion Books of 2009 by Publishers Weekly

Is there meaning in our afflictions?

With the thoughtfulness of a pilgrim and the prose of a poet, Scott Cairns takes us on a soul-baring journey through "the puzzlement of our afflictions." Probing ancient Christian wisdom for revelation in his own pain, Cairns challenges us toward a radical revision of the full meaning and breadth of human suffering.

Clear-eyed and unsparingly honest, this new addition to the literature of suffering is reminiscent of The Year of Magical Thinking as well as the works of C. S. Lewis. Cairns points us toward hope in the seasons of our afflictions, because "in those trials in our lives that we do not choose but press through—a stillness, a calm, and a hope become available to us."

"The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering, but a supernatural use for it." –Simone Weil

"Like most people I, too, have been blindsided by personal grief now and again over the years. And I have an increasingly keen sense that, wherever I am, someone nearby is suffering now.

For that reason, I lately have settled in to mull the matter over, gathering my troubled wits to undertake a difficult essay, more like what we used to call an assay, really—an earnest inquiry. I am thinking of it just now as a study in suffering, by which I hope to find some sense in affliction, hoping—just as I have come to hope about experience in general—to make something of it."

Scott Cairns is the author of six collections of poetry including Compass of Affection, and the memoir Short Trip to the Edge. His poetry and nonfiction have been included in Best American Spiritual Writing and other anthologies. His poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, and The New Republic. He is Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at the University of Missouri.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Cairns, a poet (Compass of Affection), memoirist (Short Trip to the Edge), and essayist, offers a profoundly touching and deeply considered treatment of the notion of suffering, especially grief, in a Christian's life. For Cairns, suffering is not about the presence of evil; instead, it provides occasions where God can be known more intimately. Suffering, in other words, is an occasion for grace, God's and our own. VERDICT Eloquent in its simplicity, Cairns's brief book is a superb treatment of the thorny issues of suffering and grief.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557257918
  • Publisher: Paraclete Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Scott Cairns is the author of five previous collections of poetry: The Theology of Doubt, The Translation of Babel, Figures for the Ghost, Recovered Body, and Philokalia. With W. Scott Olsen, he co-edited The Sacred Place, a collection of prose and verse celebrating the intersections of landscape and ideas of the holy. His poetry and nonfiction have been included in Best American Spiritual Writing and other anthologies. His poems have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Poetry, Image, and many other periodicals. He is currently Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at the University of Missouri. His spiritual memoir, A Short Trip to the Edge, will be published in 2007.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2010

    The End of Suffering Illuminating and Poignant

    In "The End of Suffering: Finding Purpose in Pain," Scott Cairns writes 114 of the most poignant pages of prose available in print today. Small in size, the book is certainly not small in scope, as it tackles some age-old questions: What good is suffering? How can God be good when people suffer? And why does Christianity offer answers? Well read and well versed in contemporary thinkers (e.g., Simone Weil) and patriarchal fathers alike, Cairns investigates the Christian response to suffering. In it, he writes, "Our specifically Christian undertaking is decidedly not one of transcending. It is, rather, the intentional reinspiriting of the body and its lowly matter--as manifested in the incarnation of Christ." He often makes connections between such incarnation and art, poet that he is, and connections between art and living. He writes, "We may not choose our afflictions, but we do choose what to make of them." And many artists choose to create something beautiful out of their own suffering. Cairns also stresses the importance of community in bearing suffering and in this vein, remarks upon his experiences at Mt. Athos, to which he's journeyed several times on spiritual pilgrimmages. As a result, Cairns reflections stretch past suffering into salvation itself, explaining, "Salvation is a continuing process of being redeemed; it is our recovery from our chronic separation from God, both now and ever, and it includes our becoming increasingly aware of Who our God is. Our miraculous salvation has very little to do with the popular notion of 'dying and going to heaven,' and has far more to do with finally living, and with entering the kingdom of God, here and now." Cairns' Baptist upbringing melds with his Presbyterian transition and his now-Eastern Orthodox viewpoint, making for insightful and broad-minded writing not limited by one narrow religious perspective. Thus, he is able to conclude, "That blessed pilgrim is able--even through his or her tears--to taste and to see that the Lord is good, that even our pain is remedial, that even our suffering is grace." This book is a wonderful read that will make every reader think deeply about how she views suffering and whether she can maintain faith God.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2012

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