Received an Award of Merit from ChristianityToday, 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 ourafflictions.” Probing ancient Christian wisdom forrevelation 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, acalm, 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 tofind 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.