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A book for people who are looking for honest and thoughtful—and sometimes humorous—theological reflections, but no easy answers.
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The Mystery of Suffering and the Meaning of God

Autobiographical and Theological Reflections

Hi <<First Name>>,

Where does the Divine show up in pain?

The Mystery of Suffering and the Meaning of God is a book written by a skeptical but spiritual person for people who struggle with the subjects of God, divine providence, prayer, and related issues; people who are looking for honest and thoughtful—and sometimes humorous—theological reflections, but no easy answers.

A work of creative theology fifteen years in the making, The Mystery of Suffering and the Meaning of God deals primarily with the matter of suffering, starting with the book of Job, and addresses the subject of theodicy before going on to explore related topics of the role of prayer, God-concepts, the meaning of revelation, and how we can best live together. Laytner intersperses these penetrating theological reflections with pertinent episodes from his life, starting with the personal tragedies that sparked this book. Trained as a liberal rabbi, Laytner riffs on Jewish themes to offer a universal yet personal response to each of the challenges he discusses.

His thesis is this: If you are troubled by the issue of suffering and wonder about God’s presence (or lack thereof) in the world, and you find no solace in any of the traditional theodicies, then change your conception of God and God’s involvement in the world. Problem solved!

A serious work tackling serious tragedy, The Mystery of Suffering and the Meaning of God is a can't-miss book.

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Praise for The Mystery of Suffering and the Meaning of God

“In this book Anson Laytner explores the experiences of life through the lens of his understanding of God. It is a passionate and deep journey to the edges of an ever changing but always sustaining faith. Lives will be touched by this book, but minds will also be opened. That is quite an accomplishment!”
John Shelby Spong, Author, Jesus for the Non-Religious

“In the shadows of the Holocaust and multiple personal family losses, Laytner plumbs the dual mysteries of suffering and God with the book of Job as his guide. His spiritual journey moves from the rejection of theodicies old and new, through a phase of unrelieved argument with God, to the experience of the ineffable presence of God beyond ‘God.’ Marked by practical wisdom, generosity of spirit, disarming humor, and a joyful affirmation of the goodness of life and love undefeated by suffering and death, Laytner’s book is a stimulating invitation to theological and spiritual exploration.”
Daniel L. Migliore, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

About the Author

Anson Hugh Laytner is a retired liberal rabbi, living in Seattle, whose career in nonprofit and academic settings focused on fostering positive interfaith and interethnic relations. He is the author of Arguing with God (1990), coauthor of The Animals’ Lawsuit Against Humanity (2005), and coeditor of The Chinese Jews of Kaifeng (2017).

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