Is there a value to suffering for women? Is Christianity a religion that condones the victimization of women? Can Christians faith, who are called to hope in the midst of despair, respond to experiences of suffering in all their ambiguity and complexity? How can people proclaim the "good news" in the midst of radical suffering? Women and the Value of Suffering explores these questions and offers a critical summary of recent discussions of evil and suffering from a variety of women's theological and spiritual perspectives. It incorporates the insights of feminist theory, cultural studies, biomedical research, psychology, theology, and spirituality. By exploring the complexity of suffering in our times, it reflects on how women of faith can come to terms with the enormity, diversity, and, at times, apparent senselessness of human suffering.
Chapter one introduces the search for meaning in suffering. Chapter two defines the experience of pain and suffering from current and historical perspectives. Chapter three surveys how women within a Christian context have spoken about suffering and how these expressions might be similar to or differ from the ways men theologize about suffering. Chapter four considers how an incorporation of a tragic vision of reality might enhance theological considerations on evil and radical suffering of women. Chapter five focuses on the role of Christian spirituality in responding to the experiences of women's suffering. The conclusion provides a response to the question, is there a value to suffering for women, and incorporates the poem Rowing by Anne Sexton to convey that response.
Women and the Value of Suffering contemplates whether women can find value in their suffering—individually and effectively—so that they are empowered to work for change while acknowledging their need for and openness to God's activating presence in transforming their suffering. Woman and the Value of Suffering shows that through suffering and despite all expectations to the contrary, people can come to an encounter with One who knows our suffering with love, grace, and even joy.
Chapters are "Attempts to Define the Experience of Pain and Suffering," "Selected Women's Experiences and Theological Reflections on Suffering," "Tragic Vision and Suffering," and "Elements of a Proposed Spiritual Response to Suffering."
Kristine M. Rankka holds a bachelor of arts in religion in symbolic expression and a master of Library science from the University of Washington. She has also completed another graduate degree at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.