The Ocean of Life

March 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve already put this on Facebook, but here I want to share another helpful resource for wrestling with the question of pain and suffering and its relationship to faith. This, too, is one of the resources I give my students in the Senior Synthesis course, and it’s always appreciated.

It is an article by the late Fr. John Kavanaugh, S.J. (he died in November of 2012), who was a philosophy professor at Saint Louis University. Fr. Kavanaugh taught me when I was at SLU. He directed my senior thesis and also taught a bioethics class that made me want to go to law school. For many years he wrote a column for the Jesuit magazine America. One of his best columns (in my opinion) was titled “The Ocean of Life.” Written in 2005, the column addresses that most haunting of subjects: God’s existence and the presence of suffering and evil. Fr. Kavanaugh touches on physical evils, moral evils, and the full range of forces which leave us sad, hurt, and confused. For teenagers first starting to work through these terribly difficult issues, Fr. Kavanaugh’s essay is a beautifully profound and accessible piece. An excerpt:

If we do not want tidal waves or volcanoes, I guess we cannot want this earth, its atmosphere, its eruptions, its churning tectonic plates, its generative gasses, its mighty mountains and oceans, so awesome and dreadful. If we do not want children of flesh and blood, who can so suddenly and shockingly lose a hand or who have lungs that choke in water, I wonder whether we could even have a human body, its caresses charged with tenderness or its lungs to breathe and sing. I don’t know. But I believe this is the world God made, terrible and awesome, so lovely and lethal.

You can find the full column here.

Posted by Matt Emerson.

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