Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Problem of Pain, Preface

I am in a discussion with a dear friend about my story (39 Hours) He recommended to me a book by C.S. Lewis called The Problem of Pain. He said my story reminded him of the book.

Thursday I had a chance to pick it up while at a book store. Almost immediately, I wanted to answer/rebutt/comment on points raised by Lewis. But, I didn't own the book, didn't have a pen and had nothing to write with! Yesterday, I bought the book so I could work it!

There is a ton of material there, but it is important to set the situation up. The Problem Lewis is addressing is suffering. In a world created by a loving God, why is there suffering - specifically, pain? How could a loving God allow pain, allow his beloved creations feel pain, suffer? Lewis does ask his readers to note that his is just a layman, no particular training or education worthy of addressing this issue other than as his own opinion. Consider me such a layperson responding to his attempt.

Also on Thursday, after having read 70-80 pages of the book at the bookstore, I was commenting on it to a friend who happened to be there also. I said I disagreed with the characterization that pain is inherent in the world and was rightly called on it. I didn't have a good answer then, but have since at least begun to have one.

I want to distingush between pain and hurt. Not so easily done as we tend to use them interchangeably. In general use, pain is what we feel, hurt is something that happens to someone. I don't care for that too much. I have always said that pain is the bodys way of saying stop doing that. Let me offer an experiment you can try at home. You need a friend you can trust for this!

Have them pinch you on the arm. OUCH! Right? Ok, after about 30 seconds, the pain will begin to fade, have them slap you on the other arm. HEY! Quick, does the pinch still hurt? Bet you forgot it for a second. Last part: have them pinch you but not let go....have them hold it firmly until it actually starts to go numb a little. Now have them let go. Did you notice the pain got worse after they let go?

The first pinch was hurt. The slap was hurt. The held pinch was pain. Pain hurts, then as long as it goes on, we begin to become numb to it, til it is released and then it flares again, despite the source being gone. Hurt happens, pain persists.

Hurt is inherent in life. Things happen. Pain however is not inherent. It is the result of something that can be moderated, even eliminated or prevented. I am going to come back to this, but pain is always the result of choice.


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