Jesuit author debunks myths around God and suffering

May 16, 2012 in 2012

Australian Jesuit and internationally known author and film critic Richard Leonard, debunks many of the myths people believe about the role of God in human suffering, in his latest book Where the Hell is God? The book’s Irish launch by RTE television’s Roisin Duffy, will take place in the Manresa Jesuit Centre for Spirituality, Mon, 15 Nov at 7.30pm.

Leonard says, “When I was studying theology as a Jesuit, looking at issues such as God and suffering and the ethics of euthanasia, it was largely an academic exercise. Then my 28 year old sister, a nurse working with the aboriginal people, was left completely paralysed from the neck down in a car accident and those issues literally became matters of life and death for me”.

Appalled at some of the letters and comments to his sister and family that passed as Christian insights into God’s role in her tragedy (twenty-four hour nursing care, seven days a week for the last 20 years), Leonard has detailed his seven steps to spiritual sanity, which contradict what many people actually believe about God’s role in human suffering.

In these steps he claims that:
God does not directly send pain suffering and disease. God does not punish us
God does not send us accidents to teach us things, though we can learn from them
God does not will earthquakes, floods, droughts or other natural disasters
God did not need the blood of Jesus. Jesus did not just come to die but God used his death to announce the end of death

God does not kill us off.

“I am very grateful to the correspondents who wrote to me after my sister’s accident”, he says. “They have alerted me to how often we hear some terrible theology that does not draw us to God in the worst moments of our lives. It alienates us.”

Richard Leonard will be in Ireland from Saturday 13 Nov until Wednesday 17 Nov and is available for interview.

Dr Richard Leonard is a 47 year old Australian Jesuit and Director of the Australian Catholic Film and Broadcasting Office. He is a film critic and author of Mystical Gaze: An exploration of the films of Peter Weir, and Movies That Matter.