Rafael LUÉVANO. Woman-Killing in Juárez: Theodicy at the Border. Maryknoll NY: Orbis Books. 2012. Pp 174 inc. bibliography. $24.00 pb. ISBN: 978-1-57075-968-0.
Reviewed by Winifred WHELAN, St. Bonaventure University, emerita, 1415 W. Rascher Avenue, Chicago IL 60640-1205

This is a story by a priest-professor who decided to go to the place where the bodies of young women were found and where there are pink crosses to mark their graves. As he walks, he ponders the ultimate questions: What happened? Why? And his main question: Where was (is) God in these events?

Luévano starts this book with a description of the horror he experienced when he began to investigate the appalling tragedy of the killing of women in Juárez. As he read about it, he felt a call to look into it more closely, asking why it was occurring, and what was happening to the loved ones left behind. His purpose for writing was not to catch the perpetrators, but to ask questions both of the humans involved and of God and the place of God in such seemingly senseless suffering. As it stands, the book is an extended meditation on this senseless, or what might be termed historically imposed, suffering.

One of the most intriguing parts of the book is Luévano's interviews with the relatives of the murdered women. Their acceptance of their suffering is not an unconditional surrender. As did Job, they constantly question and loudly lament. This questioning, giving voice to their suffering, empowers them to take responsibility to let go of fear and to take action.

With the help of other writers and theologians, Luévano explains the various responses to innocent suffering. Why me? Is God a just judge, who legitimizes the suffering of the innocent by saying that all have sinned therefore all must suffer? Is God a supreme educator, justifying present pain with a future reward? Does the inscrutable God theory lead to indifferent resignation? Rollo May speaks of the most common response to suffering: apathy, an inner void which leads to destructive attempts to fill oneself from without. Soelle, Moltmann and Metz all speak of a crucified or compassionate God who becomes a participant in human pain. But this explanation does not resolve the key question, that of senseless suffering. In fact, here even God might seem powerless to help.

The book sticks closely to the situation in Juárez. It doesn't mention, for example, those who are in jail unjustly or the thousands of people who are being killed in 2012 in south Sudan or Syria. If this book were used in class, research into these other situations would be a good assignment or follow-up. Another follow-up activity could be a more complete explanation of Metz's idea of dangerous memory. Luévano mentions this a few times but doesn't explain it clearly. However, the book would be an effective introduction to the problem of innocent suffering. The interviews with the women, especially, as well as Luévano's personal involvement and learning process make it intriguing and engrossing.


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