A new hermeneutic : God and suffering in the Holocaust and in El Salvador / by Karen L. Howard.
The questions of the relationship between God and suffering have been perennial ones for Jews and for Christians since the beginning of human history. This study is a comparative analysis of the faith stories of victims of suffering from two recent tragedies, the Holocaust and the War in El Salvador. It is an attempt to recover their voices and to add them to the various voices of history that have also attempted to explain and understand why suffering exists in the world and what role God plays in that suffering. The work begins with an examination of the causes for both tragedies and the differences and similarities between the two events. This examination not only presents a description of the processes of genocide and state-sponsored killing and the means to short-circuit them, but also sets the stage from which one may listen to those who endured the pain and suffering and still professed a strong belief in God. It then examines the historical voices that have heretofore given definition to suffering before the Holocaust and Salvadoran voices share their stories to add to the understanding. Although one group of victims is Christian and the other Jew, there are significant similarities that point to an intensity of relationship with God, to the construction of a shelter within oneself, to a kenosis of self, and to an inversion of location for suffering. No longer linked primarily to evil, suffering has become linked to love and solidarity after appropriation. Victim's voices, by their experiences, suggest a new hermeneutic in which one may read the Canticle of Canticles as a correlative to the Book of Job. God's Presence is repeatedly found in the midst of people's suffering. Victims tell of God's suffering and contemporary theologians add to their voices when they further suggest that God's power is superseded only by God's love and freedom when God chooses to suffer with his children in stillness and in powerlessness.
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