Rock SchulerRock Schuler is the Rector (Pastor) of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Olney, Maryland. He has served as an ordained minister of the Episcopal Church since 1990 after studying for the priesthood at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. He was awarded a Doctorate of Ministry in Congregational Development in 2002. In the course of his ministry, Rock has served on an Indian Reservation, in rural Wyoming, and in major suburban areas. In addition to pastoring the people of his congregation, he has been involved in community service projects to serve the homeless, refugees, and the addicted. He’s also been involved in international outreach projects in Latin America and Africa. Rock’s spiritual roots lie in the early Christian Church, in Native American spirituality, in the liturgical worship and traditions of the Episcopal Church, and most especially in his own personal relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ. He appreciates the mystery and mysticism of the Christian faith while offering thanks for a lifelong and joyous love of Jesus. Rock, born in 1965, is from Wyoming, where he served his first two churches. He is married to Jennifer, whom he met while serving a parish outside of Philadelphia, and has two beautiful daughters, Leia and Rebecca. Rock is into science fiction and fantasy (especially "Battlestar Galactica," "Star Trek," "Lost," and "The Lord of the Rings"), movies, reading, kayaking/canoeing, hiking, and running.
Host: Can we live a full life if we are suffering in some way?
Rock Schuler: The question of human suffering is one that all religions have wrestled with throughout time. Some have seen suffering as a punishment from God, others have seen suffering as an inevitable part of life. All of the different great religions have dealt with suffering in different ways. Some religions simply ask that we submit to suffering. Others say that suffering should be moderated in some way that we should live between the extremes of joy and pain. Christianity has tended to see suffering as that which can be redeemed, that which can be saved. In other words, though suffering is not a part of Gods will, the suffering is not punishment from God, nevertheless God can bring forth good from suffering. This is not to say that we are making light of individual pain or human suffering in general or that we are somehow sanctifying suffering so that it becomes good and we dont have any concern about alleviating it because if it's supposed of spiritual value. What we are saying though is that God is capable of taking a pain that he did not will and bringing something out of it that can benefit us and other people. Many of us, who have seen loved one suffer or who have ourselves undergone pain, have not known that at the same time there is an inexplicable richness that is being shared. I saw that that of many people and I have had profound experiences with many who were dying or who were suffering. They learn something deeper about themselves; their relationships with their family are enriched in ways that never would have been possible otherwise. I have watched God bring forth great good, great blessing from great tragedy and great pain. That is the center of the Christian mystery, crucifixion ending up in resurrection. It's an arduous journey, very often that it can be compared to a heroic quest in many ways. The journey can be long and difficult and it is painful, but we believe that there is light and life that is the result that comes through, there is resurrection at the end of the experience and that is where the fuller spiritual life lies.