On Friday 20th March in the Diocese of Westminster, Dr Peter Kahn will be giving the keynote address at the Annual Theology of the Body Lecture. We spoke to Dr Kahn, who is also a CTS author and editor of the popular Family Matters series, about his latest CTS booklet Facing Difficulties in Christian Family Life.
CTS: What inspired you to write this title?
Dr Peter Kahn: Families face many difficulties in today’s world. It is heart-breaking to see friends and acquaintances suffer in so many ways , as well as to realise how widespread difficulties are felt in family life. The task of responding to these difficulties is not something that we can just leave to others.
CTS: This is a challenging subject to discuss. How have you approached it?
Dr Peter Kahn: We cannot control our circumstances, but this booklet suggests that even when we encounter difficulties it is still possible to find fulfilment that is both concrete and real. The booklet looks at conflicts in the family, as well as at difficulties that are linked to suffering and death. It addresses challenges that arise from providing for one’s family and living in society with others. The booklet doesn’t provide a straightforward happy ending to these difficulties. Rather, it draws attention to ways that God has helped families in the past, exploring how it is possible to experience difficult family circumstances in ways that do not involve us giving in to despair and bitterness. The booklet principally does this by offering a range of stories and testimonies on family life, as well as by looking at the wisdom of the Bible. When human frailty and sin come together, then suffering is intense indeed. But if we long for Christ to reach out to us in our difficulties, then he will not abandon us.
CTS: How does this booklet tie in with the wider discussion of family life in the church and the world today?
Dr Peter Kahn: The Catholic Church is presently struggling to find ways to reach out to those who are experiencing difficulties within families. At this stage of proceedings the debate is either being held at one distance removed from those actually facing the difficulties, or it is played out in the media from a secular perspective. This booklet is directly addressed to those who are facing difficulties in their families, and it tackles the issues from a perspective that takes faith into account. God sees our difficulties from a different angle – every difficultly can become a means to encounter Christ. He can reach out to us and replace our despair and bitterness with wonder, even when the difficulty itself remains.
CTS: What do you hope people will take away from reading this booklet?
Dr Peter Kahn: I hope that this booklet will provide some encouragement to family members in the difficulties that they experience, as they realise that even in such situations they can still be generous to others and find life. I hope also that it will encourage others in the church to proclaim a message of hope before the sea of challenges that families face across the world, and to assist in framing responses that present Christianity not as an unrealisable ideal, but as something that is liveable and fulfilling.
Facing Difficulties in Christian Family Life is available now from CTS for £2.50. Dr Peter Kahn will also be giving the keynote address on this topic at the annual Theology of the Body Conference on Friday 20th March – click here for details.
You can read an extract from Facing Difficulties in Christian Family Life below:
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