Sunday, July 15, 2007

PAIN AS AN ACOLYTE OF THE POWER OF DEATH
William Stringfellow on pain and suffering - 3 of 3

AN AMBASSADOR OF DEATH. "To endure pain is to suffer anticipation of death, in both mind and body. The experience of pain is a foretaste of the event of death. Pain is an ambassador of death. Pain is one of death's disguises, though not one of the more subtle ones."

PERSONIFYING DEATH. "It is the surrogate, servant relationship evident between pain and death that causes me to write of it so much in personified terms. Death, after all, is no abstract idea, or mere a destination in time, nor just an occasional happening, nor only a reality for human beings."

A LIVING MORAL POWER. "But, both biblically and empirically, death names a moral power claiming sovereignty over all people and all things in history. Apart from God, death is a living power greater--because death survives them all--than any other moral power in this world of whatever sort: human beings, nations, corporations, cultures, wealth, knowledge, fame or memory, language, the arts, race, religion."

AN ACOLYTE OF THE POWER OF DEATH. "One speaks appropriately and precisely of the power of death militant in history after the same manner in which one refers to other moral powers or, indeed, after the manner in which one makes mention of God. And then, since pain partakes of the reality of death, it is meet as well as accurate to think of pain personified: to regard pain as an acolyte of the power of death."

From A Keeper of the Word, anthology of William Stringfellow's writings edited by Bill Wylie Kellerman


BEYOND PAIN. Stringfellow's reflections on pain, particularly as a personfication of death as a principality and power are spot on, I think. But, lest you think he writes of this with resignation or dreary fate, I will follow up these three excerpts on pain and suffering with his incredible take on the power of resurrection at work in this life amid pain and death's work. It is inspiring.

Stay tuned...

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