By: Jessica Coblentz
Last Sunday when the story of Jesus’s passion finished, the presider at Mass deliberately sat down in his chair and said nothing. Silence crept over the large urban sanctuary, accented by sounds of squirming bodies and the echo of children crying. All noise fell away against the force of the hundreds who sat there, saying nothing.
In the silence that followed, I recognized something familiar.
Dorothee Sölle examines “mute suffering” in her theological classic, powerfully and abruptly titled, Suffering. Mute suffering, she explains, is also a “blind” and “deaf” suffering; it is entirely isolating. Her insights emerge from an intricate theological mediation on suffering across the globe during the twentieth century. Through a seamless movement from poems of the Nazi concentration camps to scenes of poor children in Hanoi to the voices of destitute factory workers in Düsseldorf, she conveys what cannot be communicated about “unbearable”…
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