Alvin N. Rogness, President of Evangelical Lutheran Church Association (ELCA), Theological Seminary St. Paul/Minneapolis, USA
In: Publication of the ELCA, Theological Seminary St. Paul/Minneapolis, USA, 1999
… More than any I have ever read, this book probes into suffering, fear, loneliness, reaction. Few books haunt me, this one does... Erika Schuchardt, by the use of stories, lets suffering people speak for themselves … The book should be in every pastor’s library. It could well be a book for continuous study in a congregation. If it were, our congregations would have a wisdom and warmth of a newfound ministry …
Review: Few books haunt me, this one does
How do we as human beings, and especially as Christians in congregations, relate to one onother in the crisis of life? This is a question that presses for insight, if not for answers.
More than any I have ever read, this book probes into suffering, fear, loneliness, rejection. Few books haunts me; this one does.
In this study, Erika Schuchardt, by the use of stories, lets suffering people speak for themselves. Silvia and Albert Görres and Ruth Müller-Garnn speak as parents of mentally retarded children, as does Pearl Buck. Laurel Lee speaks of a woman suffering from cancer. Representing the physically disabled is Luise Habel, whose mother committed suicide. Ingrid Weber-Gast speaks for the emotionally disturbed, Jacques Lusseyran for the blind.
She here presents the results of her pioneering study on suffering, comparable in significance to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s work on death and dying. Dr. Schuchardt studied the life stories of more than 500 suffering persons and identified eight phases they experienced.
Normally I am not intrigued by the use of stages and steps in dealing with crises or disabilities, but this author does it admirably in what she calls “crisis management as a learing pocess in eight spiral phases”.
Her insights led me to self-examination, and to an awareness of where I have fallen short. I found myself drawn into the pathos of these people who bared their hearts in their call for understanding.
It is apparent that many of us are of little help in these instances of life’s shocks. Failing to understand, and fearful of blundering, we withdraw, and deny the very relationships which should be God’s gifts to us in these hours. Or, using shallow phrases, we only reveal how far we are from the one who suffers. And we are blind to the more profound fact that all of us in one way or another are the disabled. So, we isolate ourselves from one another.
By reading this book and understanding theses phases, people who suffer can better cope with their situations. Families, friends, and cargivers will also develop greater understanding and be better equipped to address the actual needs of suffering persons.
The book reflects a sound and sensitive use of the theology of the church. God is seen, in Christ, as a suffering God, our companion who in his love is a constant presence against loneliness, and who gives courage and hope.
I was often tempted to lift out one striking phrase or paragraph, but there are too many gems to make a selection. I leave the reader to the joy of finding them.
The book contains alphabetical and classified bibliographies of the more than 500 life stories that formed the basis of the author’s study.
Now in its fifth German edition, Why Is This Happening To Me? Has been awareded the German Protestant Literature Prize.
The book should be in every pastor’s library. It could well be a book for continuous study in a congregation. If it were, our congregations would have the wisdom and warmth of a newfound ministry.