chapter  3
37 Pages

The suffering of faith

WithPaul Marcus

This chapter discusses that believers have modes of suffering that are not animated by the alleged neurotic origins of their religious faith. It focuses on underexplored areas of suffering for the believer. The chapter describes three real-life struggles that "enlightened believers" contend with in the context of their theistic faith, including some suggestions on how to more artfully respond to these existential challenges. There have been at least two types of response to innocent suffering, though they are rarely so clearly delineated in real life: an abandonment of faith, and a re-affirmation of faith, usually with some modification. In general, a theodicy helps a person recreate their "symbolic world" to preserve their sense of being part of a meaningful order, with the consequent feeling of having a serviceable sense of self-esteem, self-continuity and self-cohesion, the bedrocks of a viable narrative of self-identity. Another theodicy that religious Jews and Christians may draw from is one called "vicarious atonement.".