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The End of Suffering: Finding Purpose in Pain

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  103 ratings  ·  16 reviews
“The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering, but a supernatural use for it.” –Simone Weil

“Like most people I, too, have been blindsided by personal grief now and again over the years. And I have an increasingly keen sense that, wherever I am, someone nearby is suffering now.

For that reason, I lately have
Paperback, 144 pages
Published November 1st 2009 by Paraclete Press (first published 2009)
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Seth Thomas
Nov 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A short but powerful read. The question of suffering and pain are on my mind a lot these days, as I watch friends deal with loss and we wrestle with the "why" of cancer. I loved the chapter on complicity and the overall perspective of moving towards experiencing suffering and pain as a part of the process of drawing closer to God.

"May our afflictions be few, but may we learn not to squander them."
Fr. Ted
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like the writings/poetry of Scott Cairns. I don't always agree with what he says, but his writing style (which is poetic) opens my eyes and mind to new possible understandings. Poetry which is so abundant in the rich hymn tradition of the Church is an antidote to the wooden literalism so pervasive in our culture's reading of Scripture. Cairns is comfortable with ambiguity in the text - this is the very things that causes us to have to wrestle with God, as did Israel of old. This was my 2nd tim ...more
Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
the quote at the end is worth the price of the book itself: "May our afflictions be few, but may we learn not to squander them."

Other than that, i'm not too impressed. May be the expection was too high . Good reference to St Isaac on page 18 of this edition, and some good proses here and there. Otherwise, I'd be hard-pressed to appreciate the nature of suffering.

On the topic of suffering, I'd suggest this short article

Jewelie Casteel
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it
One of the strongest literary arguments I've ever encountered regarding the Body of Christ and how much we need our church family and how deeply we are interconnected with one another through Christ. I felt this book, as short as it was, was laborious and arduous, and basically willed myself to complete it instead of giving up midway. The writing felt verbose and choppy, and there were far too many references to other historical spiritual figures, but there were moments of insight found within.
Stephen Perez
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Thought Proving Essay

The author's reflection on his own journey is one that is accessible to readers. I appreciated Scott's inclusion of the works from Church Fathers and Mothers. Their writings helped demonstrate the Universality of our experiences; ancient or modern, further grounding me in what it is to be an Orthodox Christian.
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book really did not offer any new insights on the subject and I found the casual, conversational tone off-putting. I also found it distasteful that the author chose to start and finish this book by talking about his dogs.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
While this small essay does not delve very deep into the problem of suffering, there are some very worthwhile insights throughout. It's a quick read, and well worth it.
Scott Cairns takes on one of the hard topics of religion - why is there suffering? As a Christian, this is a topic that I find difficult. I know we live in a broken world and that the brokenness is cause of suffering and pain. I do not believe that God is the cause of the afflictions of this world. I believe God's grace is how we survive our troubles.

However, this is a hard topic to discuss. We want less suffering in the world, especially among those who we care about.

Cairns does not answer all
Marilyn Gardner
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received this from my son as a birthday present, which may tell you something about our relationship.This book is a precious gem in a sea of cheap, glass baubles. It’s deep and thick reading and the truth is, I am not smart enough to read it quickly. I find myself reading almost every sentence three times before I fully understand it. But it’s worth the time that it is taking. As a fairly new Orthodox Christian, it speaks profoundly into my journey. I take it with me on every refugee trip that ...more
If you don't have this, you really need to get it. If you can't find it in the bookstore, order it. It's one of those insightful books that leaves you with an a-ha sort of feeling. A lot of it you might already know, especially if you are an Orthodox Christian, but Mr. Cairns makes things a bit clearer.

Don't get me wrong, this is not ONLY for Orthodox Christians. This is for just about anybody, and I highly recommend it.
Michael Morris
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was not what I expected, and at first, not what I wanted. I cannot tell yet if it is what I needed. While some of the ideas may not be new to people who have spent a good deal reading this niche of literature, it is certainly more honest and better grounded, theologically and rationally, than other work I have read on the subject, including Lewis' sometimes infuriating The Problem of Pain.
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A different vantage on suffering, clear, Christian, increasingly Orthodox as the book progressed it talked both of the benefits of suffering and the community of suffering. It was not about the individual first, but the community and about God's purposes. Beautiful words that I have returned to many times in recent days and still a sort of foreign country.
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
A short, simple and personal book, but rich with Holy Scripture and Patristic teaching. I sense there is much more that could be elaborated in the last chapter called, "What is Lacking" about how our sufferings make up what is lacking in Christ's own suffering and about our privilege and need to participate with Him in suffering. I hope Cairns will delve into this mystery more in future works.
Hans Schmidt
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Constructive insight into the complexity of pain and loss in a broken world. I was particularly challenged by Cairn's compelling views on our individual and collective responsibility in building and living as Kingdom of God people.
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing

What an amazing book. The kind of read you want to read and reread. I look forward to following this author and getting my own copy of this book to heavily mark up with a hi lighter. Exquisitely written. Significant topic.
Nov 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
My favorite quote (from the end) sums up this book: "May our afflictions be few, but may we learn not to squander them."
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14 likes · 8 comments
“May our afflictions be few, but may we learn not to squander them.” 8 likes
“Regardless of our situations, we are inevitably partaking of something or other at every moment. The catch is that we will either partake of what is , or we will partake of the absence of what is. We partake either of life (all that has true being by way of its connection to God) or of death (all that has opted to sever that connection).” 0 likes
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