Michael Sean Strickland

Books I’ve Read


147 — Kaufmann, W. (1960). The faith of a heretic. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1963. 17 April 1996, Philadelphia.

« The search for a purpose behind suffering is not a mere matter of metaphysical speculation, nor a frivolous pastime of theologians. Man can stand superhuman suffering if only he does not lack the conviction that it serves some purpose. Even less severe pain, on the other hand, may seem unbearable, or simply not worth enduring, if it is not redeemed by any meaning » (p. 165).

« It does not follow that the meaning must be given from above; that life and suffering must come neatly labeled; that nothing is worth while if the world is not governed by a purpose. On the contrary, the lack of any cosmic purpose may be experienced as liberating, as if a great weight had been lifted from us. Life ceases to be so oppressive: we are free to give our own lives meaning and purpose, free to redeem our suffering by making something of it. The great artist is the man [or woman!] who most obviously succeeds in turning his [or her] pains to advantage, in letting suffering deepen his [ditto] understanding and sensibility, in growing through his [double ditto] pains. The same is true of some religious figures and of men like Lincoln and Freud. It is small comfort to tell the girl born without a nose: make the most of that! She may lack the strength, the talent, the vitality. But the plain fact is that not all suffering serves a purpose; that most of it remains utterly senseless; and that if there is to be any meaning to it, it is we who must give it » (pp. 165–166).

« Ritual, if one takes a little trouble over it, can make the difference between mind-killing routine and beauty » (pp. 258–259).

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