Weeping with Sudan

Allison Backous Troy

October 17, 2011

This is a difficult issue. I agree that as Christians we are called to mourn with those who mourn, but I also am skeptical that we might experience a kind of catharsis from an emotional experience, almost at the expense of the suffering, and not therefore pursue justice for them. Is that intimate experience through a photo strikes me as potentially unfair to the subject. A good book about these questions is Susan Sontag _Regarding the Pain of Others_.

October 17, 2011

I remember as a small boy reading the monthly reports of the Sudan Interior Mission society newsletter, SIM. My parents were faithful financial supporters of these brave missionaries. The photos were horrifying in the 1960s, they are horrifying now. Unable to process this kind of darkness of soul, my parents became full time missionaries in Eastern Europe in the 1980s and happily saw the fall of the iron curtain. They were provoked to action. It is encouraging to see the advance of a more humane, evangelical Christianity gain traction in Africa to the point that there is a Christian majority southern Sudan state. Prayers have been answered and the gospel has swept over Africa to the such a degree that the indigineous church in Africa is larger than that in the United States. The only real solution to the crisis of soul that afflicts Africa is not jihad, revolution or more financial assistance, but a fresh wind of pentecost. In my opinion these photos are not exploiting grief, but they represent a continuing testimony that the heart of man is desperately wicked and should provoke us to identify with the victims. We have had children orphaned by civil war in Uganda stay at our home temporarily a few years ago and it makes you realize that the world has become much smaller and more intimate place in 2011.

Allison Backous
October 17, 2011

I agree, 100%. That's why the photos speak to me so clearly - if anything, I'm brought to the absolute "otherness" depicted in these photos, while still connecting in a human way. It's compelling in a way that corrects me and has helped others actually "act." If anything, Ryan's work has brought about a lot of dialogue and action surrounding the crisis in Sudan - he is a documentary photographer, after all - so he would be the first to say "Don't emotionally overload on these photos. Petition and work for justice in Sudan."

October 17, 2011

I feel like the pictures help to bring some sort of justice to the pain suffered by these people in that their pain is being shared and will not be forgotten or entirely lost in the sands of time. Like Rick said progress does happen. It might seem oppressively slow. It might seem hopeless at times. 

My daughter has been talking about Darfur for a while now so I showed her the pictures and asked her if she thought they were fair to the people photographed. She said they were probably glad to be remembered by someone and she suggested it was like they were virtual martyrs.

If we pretend the pain and suffering doesn't exist, we deny the value of the lives that suffered. If pain and suffering are brought to our attention then it is our duty to act to alleviate it in any way we can. At the very least, thanks to Reed, we have many beautiful if tragic faces to pray for.

October 22, 2011

The world is upside down and justice has fallen in the streets.  The is a designed plan of depopulation and it has been unfolding before our eyes.  Take notice where all the klanned parent hood clinics are located.

October 24, 2011

Hello bethanyk how are you it's been a while but i'm glad to see you hope that all is well with you and your's ...Kind of tier as i will be venting on this subject tommorrow love sister sharon.

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