Holding Hope and Doubt: The Interreligious Theopoetic Response to Public Tragedies

Ashley Theuring


This article examines how the language of theopoetics can help communi- ties respond to suffering and gives us language in the face of tragedy. First, looking at theopoetics of witness, developed by Rebecca Chopp, this arti- cle develops language of resistance to suffering and locates the Divine in what remains after the trauma. Next, this article considers suffering as an experience that transcends religious differences, tracing the theopoetic re- sponses to trauma found within the writing of theological scholars Abra- ham Joshua Heschel and Dorothee Soelle. To conclude, this article will turn to a particular interreligious community response to a traumatic event. By sifting through the images of suffering and hope found in the responses of an interfaith vigil in Newtown after the mass shooting at an elementary school, this article develops a theopoetic method—an interreligious poetics ofwitness—which facilitates communities ofsupport and healing. 


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