Naming the Silencesnby Stanley HauerwasnGrand Rapids: Eerdmans;n154 pp., $9.95n^ ^’ I ‘ he first thing to understand isnA that we are all practical atheists,”nStanley Hauerwas once declarednin a phone conversation. “So when wenask, ‘Why does a good God allow badnthings to happen to good people?’ whatnwe really mean is, ‘Why doesn’t modernnmedicine cure cancer?'” Hauerwasnhas written a refreshingly original exercisenin theodicy toward explaining whatnhe means by this typically provocativenstatement.nOne really ought to call the book ann”anti-theodicy.” The central and recurringntheme is that typical attempts atntrying to account for suffering and painnare doomed from the start by the verynway the questions are asked and thenworid view they seem to presuppose.n”For a number of reasons,” Hauerwasnexplains at the outset, “I am profoundlynsuspicious of all attempts … to explainnwhy God allows us to experience painnand suffering; put even more strongly, Inhope to show why this way of puttingnthe question is a theological mistake.”nWith his usual skill and lucidity, Hauerwasnpresents a compelling case thatnprevailing theodicies are seriouslynflawed attempts to answer seriously illformednquestions.nHauerwas begins with a succinct accountnof Peter DeVries’s novel ThenBlood of the Lamb. Beginning with anstory is not incidental to the purpose ofnthe book: “We shall see that suchnstories are much more than illustrationsnof the problem of evil. Indeed, withoutnsuch stories we would have no meansnto frame the challenge of suffering, andnKenneth R. Craycraft is finishing anPh.D. in theology at Boston Collegenand is a research associate at thenAmerican Enterprise Institute innWashington, D.C.nPsalms of Lamentnby Kenneth R. Craycraftn’Why did God let my puppy die?”n— Anonymousneven more important, no way to respondnto that challenge.” It is preciselynthe problem of “story” (or rather thenlack thereof), which has produced sonmany questionable attempts at theodicy,nthinks Hauerwas.nThe Blood of the Lamb is the storynof a man, Don Wanderhope, who seesna rather unusual amount of sufferingnand death in his young life. Before henreaches middle age, Wanderhope witnessesnthe insanity and death of hisnfather, and the untimely deaths of hisnbrother (a young graduate of the Universitynof Chicago Medical School), hisnfirst love (whom he meets as a patientnin a tuberculosis sanitarium to whichnhe was wrongly sent), and his wifenGreta who, like Don’s father, commitsnsuicide. Most importantly, though, hensuffers the agony of watching his youngndaughter Carol experience the falsenhope of cure and remission for, andnultimately her death from, leukemia.nThe point of the story (at least fornHauerwas’s purpose) is that DonnWanderhope is never really shaken byndeath until his daughter — a child —nnndies from a painful disease. Of coursenhe mourned the earlier deaths, butnonly the illness of his daughter Carolndrove this backslidden Dutch ReformednChristian to the alter of St.nJude, at St. Catherine’s CatholicnChurch. Only when he watched hisnchild suffer and die for no apparentnreason did he feel compelled to returnnto that church and hurl the birthdayncake intended for Carol at the crucifixnoutside St. Catherine’s; only then didnhe take a small cross from a bureaundrawer, walk to the woods, and hurl thencross as far as he could into the trees.nWhen Carol died, Wanderhope couldnnot be consoled by the free-will defensenhe knew so well. “What is itnabout the death and suffering of anchild,” asks Hauerwas, “that seems tonchallenge not only our belief in Godnbut also our very hold on existence?”nOf course some recent Christiannattempts to account for evil have notndepended on the high metaphysics ofnthe free-will defense, but Hauerwasnfinds these lacking as well. First, itnwon’t do to say that, no matter hownbad the suffering, something good canncome from or be learned by it. Nothingngood came of Carol Wanderhope’sndeath, and nothing was learned from it.nIt was pointless. Nor will it do to say, asnmany recent theodicies do, that we cannbe comforted in our suffering by knowingnthat we have a God who is capablenof suffering with us. This might be onnthe right track, thinks Hauerwas, but itnstill falls short of the mark.nThe essential problem is twofold:nfirst, modern man, even modernnChristian man, puts more faith in sciencenand medicine than in the God innwhom he professes to believe. Second,nmodern liberal man is uprooted fromnany coherent story of his existence, cutnoff from any narrative history thatncould help him to see that it makes nonsense to try to make sense of senselessnsuffering.n”Our questions about suffering arenasked from a world determined by anOCTOBER 1991/31n