Beautiful and Terrible Things: A Christian Struggle with Suffering, Grief, and Hope

Westminster John Knox. Sept. 2020. 176p. ISBN 9780664266127. pap. $18. REL
The burden of suffering is often met with attempts to ameliorate it, or as attempts find some greater meaning. Yet, what if the wound is beyond any repair and any meaning gleaned leaves the sufferer worse for the bargain? Brady (Lewis Honor Coll., Univ. of Kentucky; The Rabbinical Targum of Lamentations), however, provides an example of living hopefully in the face of suffering from the struggle he himself carries in the tragic death of his young son. Brady observes that we sojourn in a world that is both wondrous and a vale of tears for which scripture does not settle on a single explanation. In exploring books such as Job and Ecclesiastes, Brady contends that confronting life (and God) while living in hope is what carries us through. This dual affirmation puts Brady in the same company as C. S. Lewis and Nicholas Wolterstorff. As a meditation, each chapter ends with a prayer called a collect, either of his own composition or from the Book of Common Prayer.
VERDICT Brady's sensitivity to his grief and his varied background provides something for a wide audience. The book is both intensely personal and clear-eyed, unflinching yet hopeful.
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