Suffering is part and parcel of the human experience. The causes of that suffering are unique for each of us, and some of us bear a greater burden of it than others. Whatever measure we carry, suffering is painful. We would all avoid it if we could. But because we make great efforts to sidestep unnecessary suffering, we often keep our distance from those who are in its grip. Avoiding the pain and suffering of others is one way we limit our own. Evidence of this can be seen in how we have entered into, or avoided, the suffering stemming from the global pandemic. Our ability to be present to others when they are suffering is a key theme in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which is the focus of Persuasion‘s fall series, What We Make of Ourselves. Week by week we will work through Mary Shelley’s classic story Frankenstein, identifying what the themes of this 19th-century classic has to say about life in the 21st century.
In this episode of Persuasion, Erin Straza and Hannah Anderson discuss the second reading of the series (Volume I: Chapters 4–7), in which the characters and their suffering take center stage. Shelley’s rich descriptions of the inner turmoil provide readers insight into how suffering can alter a person’s ability to function. Her story is raising those age-old questions about why suffering exists and what causes it. One of the most pressing elements in this reading is the question of what responsibility we have to prevent suffering or take responsibility for the suffering we’ve caused. While there are no easy answers to that, Christians are called to be present with those who suffer and bear the burdens of others. Our model is Jesus, who is both victim and Victor on our behalf. How does Frankenstein reveal our apathy toward the suffering of others? What can we learn from this novel about sacrificing our own plans to prevent suffering for others? Listen in for dialogue on questions like these as we take a look at what we make of ourselves. Then continue the conversation on Twitter @PersuasionCAPC or in the CAPC members-only community on Facebook.
If you’d like to read along for this series, check the reading schedule posted online. We recommend B&H Publishing’s Frankenstein: A Guide to Reading and Reflecting (Karen Swallow Prior, Mary Shelley). Whether you read along or not, listen in for conversation weaving the themes of identity, formation, creation, and community.
FRANKENSTEIN READING SCHEDULE
Conversations for our fall series will center on Mary Shelley’s original 1818 edition of Frankenstein. We will be reading from the recent release from B&H Publishing, Frankenstein: A Guide for Reading and Reflecting, edited by Karen Swallow Prior. Here’s the reading schedule (page numbers match the B&H edition) if you want to read along with us:
- 9/28 EP 223 Reading 1: Volume I, Preface–Chapter 3 (pp. 27–78)
- 10/5 EP 224 Reading 2: Volume I, Chapters 4–7 (pp. 78–121)
- 10/12 EP 225 Reading 3: Volume II, Chapters 1–4 (pp. 129–162)
- 10/19 EP 226 Reading 4: Volume II, Chapters 5–9 (pp. 162–206)
- 10/26 EP 227 Reading 5: Volume III, Chapters 1–4 (pp. 211–256)
- 11/2 EP 228 Reading 6: Volume III, Chapters 5–7 (pp. 256–306)
This episode of Persuasion is sponsored in part by B&H Publishing Group, publisher of Frankenstein: A Guide to Reading and Reflecting (Karen Swallow Prior, Mary Shelley). B&H Publishing seeks to provide intentional, biblical content that positively impacts the hearts and minds of people, cultivating lifelong relationships with Jesus Christ. Learn more at bhpublishinggroup.com.
PERSUASION 224 RESOURCES & LINKS
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This transcript has been edited to enhance readability.